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 Forgiven

Boring and instantly forgettable

(Edit) 19/01/2023

A bunch of contemptuous westerners have a party at a house in the Moroccan desert to celebrate a gay partnership. Two of them accidentally run over and kill a local boy on the way there. You’d run a mile to avoid these people, so watching them while away the time is excruciating. Although proficiently directed and with some cutting dialogue, there are virtually no character arcs and no-one here to care about. If it has any message it’s Brits bad, Berbers good. The end.

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The Equalizer

Beautiful multi-layered actioner

(Edit) 19/01/2023

Top-notch action thriller from director Antoine Fuqua and star Denzel Washington. To begin with the film has a wonderfully underplayed atmosphere as ex-agency man Denzel works in a DIY store and spends his evenings reading books. Fuqua’s fluid camerawork and the lush score add to the appealing laid-back ambience. Then baddies appear, including one brutal Russian baddie so well-played by Marton Csokas that you can’t wait for him and Denzel to square off. Denzel has hidden skills, you see. You don’t want to mess with either of these guys. Cue great action rising to a rousing climax. Followed by an equally absorbing sequel.

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Top Gun: Maverick

It can’t be this bad, can it? Oh yes it can

(Edit) 19/01/2023

Tom goes fast on a motorbike and in a plane, has a quip for every occasion and causes Americans to flap their hands in the air and whoop. Okay, so you’re not meant to take it seriously, but must it be so overbearingly contrived and predictable? If you haven’t gagged by the end, wait till Lady Gagga (an in-joke?) warbles her end-credits ditty.

I thought of giving it an extra star for the technicalities of filming (see DVD Extras), but no, what’s on screen is just too eye-rollingly awful. Three scriptwriters had a go at it to no avail and director Joseph Kosinski drains it of any residual interest unless you thrill to close-ups of men in cockpits. Surely only forgiving fans of the Cruise-man can get anything out of this.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Fall

Vertiginous excitement

(Edit) 19/01/2023

Two women get stuck on a 2,000ft-high tower and you’ll want to keep watching to see if they can get down. It’s so brilliantly filmed that you’ll swear the tower exists, even though a 60ft tower was the max that was used during filming. It’s also shot outside, in the desert, to give it extra authenticity. As a two-hander (mostly), you’d think the situation would pall, but these women are resourceful and the plot keeps moving.

There are a couple of downsides. Any climber will tell you that some of the rope work is dodgy and one of the women is initially an irritating vlogger for whom everything is cool or sick. Fortunately she soon drops this persona. All in all, a great example of how to make a low-budget film look good and really work.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

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Emma

Excruciating

(Edit) 28/12/2022

This is awful. It’s acted like a school play, with everyone told to read their lines with perfect diction and pronounce every syllable at the expense of emotional expression. Meanwhile the intolerable score underscores every beat, like in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. Despite impeccable sets, not a single frame is believable. Just watch the trailer.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Mood Indigo

Unwatchable

(Edit) 28/12/2022

Food moves in stop-motion, a piano makes cocktails, there’s a miniaturised man in a mouse costume... I guess it’s supposed to be surreal, instead of which it just looks childishly pointless and silly. The plot plays second fiddle and you’ll soon find the visuals so annoying that it seems irrelevant anyway. In any case, it’s a boy-meets-girl story with boring characters filmed as though by an amateur, often far too close-up with only partial heads in frame. Good luck if you get very far with this one.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Nope

Disappointing nonsense

(Edit) 11/12/2022

After his two excellent and disturbing films Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele comes a serious cropper with his third, which he delusionally seems to think is ‘a flying saucer horror film’. As for the blurb about it being a ‘complex social thriller’, whoever wrote that must think the emperor wore clothes. Nope is simply laughably bad B-movie sci-fi of the kind that might have been made in the 50s. Even that would be okay if it wasn’t so boring.

Daniel Kaluuya (from Get Out) is a horse wrangler for Hollywood when strange things start happening on his backcountry ranch. For a while there are hopes the film may get as creepy as Peele’s first two, but instead it just gets sillier and sillier. Even worse, it remains mundane and tedious, with an undercooked screenplay and a rag-bag of characters that lack believability. Daniel’s character has little to do except stand around looking at the sky or sit on his horse, while his overactive sister is a real pain (even more so in the excruciating gag reel on the DVD).

If you stick with it, it will only be out of sheer bemusement as the 'flying saucer' and people’s reaction to it become ever more ridiculous. An unfortunate 1-star film with an extra star for some well-shot Western scenery.

6 out of 8 members found this review helpful.

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Prisoners

A ride of a thriller

(Edit) 11/12/2022

Beautifully written, acted and directed, this intense thriller doesn’t waste a scene as it immerses you in the search for two missing girls in rural Pennsylvania. There are suspects and father Hugh Jackman isn‘t going to play by the rules no matter what frazzled cop Jake Gyllenhaal tells him. Does the title refer to the girls, the suspects or Hugh and Jake? It’s brutal, disturbing, exciting and packed full of engrossing scenes.

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Voyagers

Equal parts watchable and silly

(Edit) 05/12/2022

A film about ‘young adults’ that, at last, for the most part, isn’t just for teenagers. They’ve been bred to crew a spaceship to a planet that only their grandchildren will reach. It’s not 2001 A Space Odyssey, but the screenplay does ask some interesting questions… If you’re going to die en route anyway, why be good?

Unfortunately, as the trailer gives away, it develops into an adolescent Lord of the Flies. It all gets very silly, with some risible montages, reminiscent of an old Monty Python sketch, that are apparently meant to represent growing sexual awakening. It’s never less than watchable, but ultimately the whole is less than the sum of its parts and ends up as little more than another film with the logline: In space no-one can hear you scream.

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Andrzej Wajda: Canal

Shows its age but still startles

(Edit) 05/12/2022

B/w 1957 film, second in Andrzej Wajda’s classic anti-war trilogy, about resistance fighters fleeing Nazis through the sewers of Warsaw. Most of the film is set in the sewers and is very dark, with incidents that are somewhat samey, but overall it stands up well for its age and remains a priceless document. Some of the early travelling shots still startle and you’ll not forget the ending.

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Ashes and Diamonds

Classic anti-war film

(Edit) 05/12/2022

B/w 1958 film, third in Andrzej Wajda’s classic anti-war trilogy, follows a resistance fighter on the day the Nazis surrender. Our hero Zbigniew Cybulski, the ‘Polish James Dean’, is tasked to kill a communist bigwig, but then he meets a woman. Will he choose love or duty? Some political subplots have lost their bite, but we always come back to our mesmerising hero, who commands the screen in every scene he’s in. The ending is unforgettable. Like Dean, Cybulski was tragically killed in an accident a few years later. Some of Wajda’s shots still astonish and make the film essential viewing for anyone who loves cinema.

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The Road Dance

Earnest but grim drama

(Edit) 25/11/2022

Tragic drama set on the Isle of Lewis in 1916. Act 1 (i.e. first 30 minutes) is little more than Sunday night TV fare, then a tragic incident changes the life of our heroine and from then on it’s increasingly engrossing. The trailer gives the game away so do avoid that if you want to experience the film at its best. It’s hardly a fun watch, but you become so involved in the heroine’s plight that what at first seemed a one-star film now seems worthy of four stars, even if the ending is a tad unbelievable. And the production does seem to have misunderstood Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, which was meant to be ironic: whichever road you take, it makes no difference.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Embarrassing Watch of Wasted Talent

(Edit) 07/11/2022

Unless you’re a fan of Nicholas Cage’s mannered overacting, a film in which he plays a fictional version of himself will drive you up the wall. There’s no doubt it’s meant to be humorous, but a little goes a long way. After half an hour a plot kicks in about him developing a film, which turns out to be the one we’re watching. This could have been a neat idea, but most of the in-jokes and slapstick come across as self-indulgent. It’s an oddity that deserves marks for trying and is watchable throughout, even when it makes you wince, but is it the ‘wildly entertaining action-packed comedy’ that the DVD guff promises? Er, no.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Black Book

Fast-moving dramatic thriller

(Edit) 03/11/2022

Wonderful, fast-paced adventure yarn about a Jewish woman aiding the resistance in WW2 Holland. It’s an epic saga crammed to overflowing with incident. Of course, as directed by Paul Verhoeven, expect nudity, torture and more surprises than in old-fashioned war films. It will certainly keep your eyes glued to the screen, constantly making you wonder what can possibly happen next (as long as you avoid the tell-all trailer). Another Verhoeven master-class in film-making.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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The Ledge

Leaves a bad taste

(Edit) 03/11/2022

This horrible film has four men murder a woman after a failed rape and chase her friend up a mountain rock face. There’s nothing wrong with having baddies chasing a heroine, but these men are despicable and we have to spend most of the film listening to them as the contrived plot leaves our heroine on her own with no dialogue. Sample dialogue: ‘I’m coming for you, bitch.’

To cut down costs, the bulk of the film takes place at night on a set representing the ledge of the title, so there’s no more than a few brief climbing scenes and scenic shots. The misogynists are on the ledge and the woman is trapped beneath them below an overhang. It’s static, it's ridiculous and it's awful.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
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