Film Reviews by Alphaville

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

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Sicario

Flawed but tense

(Edit) 15/03/2016

Villeneuve knows how to inject tension into a scene, as in Prisoners, but this film lacks the narrative drive of that superior film and develops into something of a low-key procedural (compare Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty). It also has a glaring default at the heart of the story. After a bright opening, our heroine (Emily Blunt) is never anything but a bystander and completely disappears from the final act. We're half an hour into the film before even she knows what she's doing in it. Her co-star, the mysterious del Toro, is seriously underwritten (apparently at his request) but eventually turns action-man to deliver a rousing climax. Most unattractive, superfluous and annoying feature: our heroine's constant gasping for a cigarette. Did the producer pocket some lobby money?

2 out of 6 members found this review helpful.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Juvenile tosh

(Edit) 15/03/2016

You're either in the market for juvenile Marvel tosh with paper-thin plotting and characterisation or you're not. This film easily matches the dizzying heights of Thor and Avengers movies as our hero uses his shield as a Frisbee to kill the baddies. Lots of cgi and cliched superfast editing of fights to mask their lack of skill and artistry. The default generic Mickey Mouse muzak. There may be a plot, but who cares? Everything is throwaway and shallow for an audience of ADHD thumb-twiddling zombie-heads. Reminiscent of Saturday-morning Flash Gordon serials, though they were intellectual masterpieces by comparison. Worst of all, the ending sets up the threat of another sequel. Feel sorry, very sorry for chief baddie Robert Redford that it's come to this. One star for production values.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Fast and Furious 7

Leaves a bad feeling in the mouth

(Edit) 15/03/2016

At least you know what you're getting with F&F - an obnoxious alpha-male film that glories in the power of revving automobiles and the view of women as sex-objects. There are the usual couple of OTT set-pieces to wake the viewer but there are no high stakes to encourage involvement. You know Vin ain't gonna get whacked. Elsewhere, maudlin attempts at character interaction are nauseating in their contrivance. And guess what? Such is the state of the multiplex audience these days that three more instalments have already been planned! Cinema has always produced naff franchises for the hard-of-thinking (Connery made Never Say Never Again in exchange for the right to make three more interesting films for Sidney Lumet). So I guess we shouldn't begrudge brain-dead fare such as this if it rakes in money for the industry. It's just that this franchise leaves a bad feeling in the mouth.

Strictly for brain-dead petrolheads.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Under-powered misfire

(Edit) 07/03/2016

A po-faced prequel to the TV series that thinks it's cool when it's merely dull. Any fun is squeezed out of it by a talky script and staid direction that constantly brings any narrative drive to a halt. The two leads can do little with their wooden characters, while giving Kuryakin a rage issue is a serious miscalculation. On the extras Guy Ritchie even says he 'didn't want them looking too cool'! And whoever thought it a good idea to include scenes of concentration camp torture?! In keeping with these errors of judgement, the film is burdened with an intensely irritating score by (BAFTA-winning) Daniel Pemberton. Even the Mission Impossible films, good or bad, manage to make exciting use of the old TV theme.

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Carnage

Has it come to this, Roman?

(Edit) 07/03/2016

An utterly predictable chamber piece, totally bereft of ideas or interesting dialogue, about two sets of squabbling parents. So instantly forgettable I attempted to watch it for a second time because I forgot I'd attempted to sit through it a year before. It's based on a stage play and, boy, does it show. Fans of ACTORS may find something here to detain them, but a MOVIE it ain't. No stars.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Crimson Peak

Sumptuously filmed shaggy-ghost story

(Edit) 03/03/2016

An impeccably filmed, sumptuously designed shaggy-ghost story that unfortunately amounts to much ado about nothing. The occasional ghosts are irrelevant, while scenes of our heroine wandering anxiously around a spooky mansion soon pall. However, this is a del Toro film, so all hell finally brakes loose in an overwrought ending that plays out like a Gothic gunfight. Worth waiting for? The jury's out.

3 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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The Physician

Long and slow

(Edit) 03/03/2016

This 4-hour German TV production was cut down to 2.5 hours for cinematic release but is still achingly long. It plays like basic early Saturday evening TV fare, with stultifying direction and an irritatingly overbearing score. Stolidly paced and with little narrative thrust, it has taken over 20 years to come to the screen and was probably better left in book form. Lovers of the Isle of Skye will at least be amused to find our 11th century hero travelling around the Trotternish peninsula and coming across Dover!

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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My Afternoons with Margueritte

Unexpected treat

(Edit) 03/03/2016

A short, snappy film, hard to categorise and full of tangential delights. The French title, poorly served by its English translation, roughly means The Uncultivated Head. This refers to the uneducated Gerard Depardieu, who meets an old lady who teaches him about words and literature. Sounds like a yawn but it's anything but. Director Jean Becker populates the picture with a host of entertaining characters and Depardieu's struggle with both dictionaries and life is totally engrossing. As warm-hearted a film as only the French seem able to make, you'll be rooting for happy endings for everyone.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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A New Leaf

Cult comedy

(Edit) 29/02/2016

Available at last, this cult classic comedy from 1970. The talented Elaine May writes, directs and stars as the hapless millionairess courted for her wealth by hopeless down-on-his-luck millionaire Walter Matthau. A sweet, funny, perfectly-cast treat that wears its age as a badge of honour. Puts to shame modern gross-out humour. Stand-out scene: Matthau's bumbling attempts to help May sort her nightgown's head-hole from her arm-hole. Silly, funny, warm and memorable.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

Mission Impossible Yawn

(Edit) 29/02/2016

This is Mission Impossible by numbers. Where are de Palma or Abrams when you need them behind the camera? Clichéd fight in theatre. Tick. Motor bike chase. Tick (and yes, some market stalls are overturned). Underwhelming set-pieces, an even more underwhelming villain, intricate plotting rendered banal by barrel-loads of boring exposition, risible dialogue, baddies who can't shoot straight as soon as the Cruise-man is in their sights. Pity especially poor Alec Baldwin, who has to call Tom Cruise 'the living embodiment of destiny'. Yes, really. All to a generic muzak snatched from the juvenile Marvel franchise. MI 1 & 3 are great, 2 & 4 not so much. Let's hope 5's a good 'un.

0 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Violette

Funereal plod

(Edit) 29/02/2016

Praised as 'compelling' with 'superb performances', you know what to expect. A funereally paced plodder that's a tough watch unless you like watching medium-shot stills of talking heads. The film's subject is done scant justice and if you hope to wallow in Left Bank existentialism you'll be doubly disappointed. A simple narrative stretched beyond patience with all the cinematic life squeezed out of it.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Secret in Their Eyes

okay if you're in the mood

(Edit) 29/02/2016

Grossly overrated Oscar winner that's something of a plodder unless you're in a forgiving mood. However, if you get tired of all the chat, fast-forward an hour in for a jaw-dropping shot that almost redeems the whole thing. Out of the blue comes a 5minute, gravity-defying masterpiece of camerawork that begins as an aerial shot and evolves into a hand-held chase through the back alleys of a football stadium. Pure, mind-boggling cinema, only replicated with cgi in the Hollywood remake, that unfortunately shows up the rest of the film for the slow-burning talkie it is.

0 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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The City of Violence

Shaky-cam nonsnse

(Edit) 29/02/2016

Poorly acted, poorly directed, amateurish, shaky-cam nonsense. Waving the camera around silly fight scenes merely enhances their lack of believability (as Greengrass continues to prove). Those who rated this film 'dazzling' and 'amazing' must have owed the producer a favour.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Monsters: Dark Continent

Clichéd and depressing war film

(Edit) 17/02/2016

An awful film about clichéd gung-ho GIs in the Middle East. You know the sort. They party with hookers, pour beer over their heads and shout Whoo Whoo when they kill someone. And these are our heroes we're supposed to care about? You'll soon be on fast forward. The whole film leaves a sour taste in the mouth. One star for an occasional passing CGI monster, but the only real monsters here are the protagonists.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.
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