Film Reviews by JD

Welcome to JD's film reviews page. JD has written 72 reviews and rated 88 films.

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Alien

Still the standard by which all of this genre are measured by

(Edit) 03/12/2021

By modern standards there is on first glance a lot going against this film today. Not least the extremely slow build up.

However it must be remembered this is the original. A film that spawned countless imitators and copies. Of which only one, the sequel can stand as its equal.

When you consider OBannon and Giger had a massive part to play in the success of this film it says a lot that its Scott who gets the glory. And thats because his direction is utterly masterful.

This film is held together with aerospace grade glue and is near flawless in its execution. And that slow start i mention, like the sequel this is to build the universe and the characters and its done in a way i think few people fully understand or appreciate. Indeed, rumour has it the story of the film is summarised in the opening sequence.

Acting is superb and we have of course Sigourney Weaver acting every bit as well as her character is written.

A fully deserved 5 stars for this one. One of the greatest films ever made and worth watching today more than ever to remove the foul taste of todays garbage from your eyes and ears.

Like its sequel this film is as near flawless as they come.

Oh, it has an alien in and is set in space.

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Freaky

utter rubbish

(Edit) 05/12/2021

Very clumsily written attempt at horror with Vince Vaughn being the only reason it would get 1 star. His portrayal of a teenage girl is pretty good.

The group of hero's are never under any real threat and those marked for a demise are made very clear early in the film and you could infact group them all together quite easily.

There are jokes, at least i think they are meant to be jokes. Nothing to make you laugh tho, just cheap, badly timed, childish gags.

The film was so bad i thought it some sort of parody, but it isnt. Its just rubbish.

My teenage daughter would love to watch this with her friends, but id advise any adults to give this one a wide berth.

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Underwater

incredibly bad

(Edit) 02/12/2021

Great idea and a great setting. And there ends the positives.

It looks to me like someone told whoever did this film 'There was a couple of sci fi films where humans went somewhere they shouldnt and got chased by monsters, they were really good'

So these people went off and made there own version off this template. How can you go wrong with the essential ingredients, humans in an alien location and monsters?

Unfortunately, scott, o'bannon, cameron, giger etc are masters of there craft. Where its clear those that made this film arent.

The cast are absolute passangers in what seems a pointless trip. things explode so they move. Something else explodes so they move again. It goes on and on. The film even starts with an explosion. I wont ruin the ending.....

The heroin seems pretty empty. With her short, bleached hair and wandering around in her underwear whenever she isnt under 20tons of pressure she is obviously a modern version of Ripley. But lacking any real kind of motivation or interesting story arc (in both alien films films ripley started off with little control and a bit out of her depth, but as the story passed she grew into a legendry sci fi hero- and not once but they pulled that one twice) here, Kristen starts off as she ends. Her trajectory is flat. Why did she do what she did at the end? Coz she is a great person? Yawn. Is it that hard to find some motivation? (back to Ripley, 1. SHE had to survive. 2. She adopted Becca and had to protect her at all costs)

The whole film is like this, it lacks any thought

It feels like this film should of been a 20minute short for it does. But more than that its incredibly disappointing.

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The Mask of Zorro

Great fun

(Edit) 02/10/2021

I didnt watch this film first time round as it didnt really take my fancy.

However, with my list running low this got added.

And am i glad it did. The film is just great entertainment. Why dont they make films like this anymore?

Zeta Jones and Banderas have some serious screen presence to which no doubt helps.

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I, Robot

Good film + Will Smith

(Edit) 02/10/2021

Any half decent sci fi is a winner with me, and this sci-fi crime drama action thingy isnt bad.

We have the usual robots take over, bad corporations stuff going on, but its all entertaining enough. And the hero has a decent story to follow as he proven correct but in doing so he has alter his perceptions brought about by a clever introduction to him and his demons.

But what would be a 3 star film gets a free star thanks to our hero/lead.

I rate Will smith as one of the best actors of all time. Im no expert and im sure he isnt a 'great' actor technically. But the guy ooozes charisma and is brilliantly entertaining. He is one of those precious few actors than can get away with being himself in absolutely any role. And as such turns this ok film into a must watch.

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The Sting

Seen it all before......

(Edit) 06/09/2021

I spent much of this film knowing what was going on as ive seen it done in countless other films.

Gives the feeling your the one being conned.

It also feels a bit amateur at times.

However the acting is convincing, one that stands out is that Newman guy. His screen presence is matched only by the likes of Wil Smith, Sean Connery or Harrison Ford.

The film itself while we have all seen it all before is an inoffensive affair. There is no pandering, telling us what to think or box ticking. Its just telling an entertaining story. And something else that stands out is this is pure entertainment. There is no misery to shock the audience and the plot never gets bogged down in over complication. It plays out in a positive fashion so as it closes youll feel happy and satisfied with your 2 hours.

Joking aside, when this film started we werent sure about it, but once you get used to its style and settle into the story it really does stand out as a fantastic film.

Is it right, something so old stands up so well today? Should I remember this film and recommend it to my children when i couldnt name a single one of the countless copies its spawned since?

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Soldier

Simplistic but does what it sets out to do

(Edit) 06/09/2021

Probably worthy of more than 3 stars - but its not quite a 4 in my book.

The film shocked me with its year, late 90's. It comes over as older given it looks very, very cheap.

And for those of us used to seeing KR in Carpenter films - this is a very different role. Rather than being some wise crack - here he is virtually silent for the whole film.

But, is that a reason KR was put in the role? To emphasise this silence and strict discipline?

Something that stands out is the basic storytelling and how it sticks to that rule. And thats not a bad thing, it means the film makes sense and it progresses in a logical and meaningful fashion. It invests you in characters with almost no time. It does show many modern films to be complex messes.

This film is better than it appears on the surface and well worth a watch.

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Godzilla vs. Kong

I know its not a wildlife documentary, but this is going to far

(Edit) 23/08/2021

Like Will Smith, Nick Cage, Clint Eastwood, Godzilla can make a film worth watching simply for his presence.

And my 3 stars is for that, Godzillas presence. He is an epic beast and to be fair for the most part id say the film does his character justice. He is a huge unstoppable titan that doesnt give 2 turds.

But the film. O dear, what a mess.

The human characters are awful and clearly just bumbling about for a bit of a human story. Its neither useful nor interesting.

Then we have the complete dettachment of reality.

Yes they are big monsters but by throwing people in we need something to relate to, something to give us a clue this is happening on earth.

But nobody cares about the death toll, hundred thousand ton creatures balance on ships, king kong has changed from a large monkey into something that can square upto the mightiest creature in all of film fantasy.

And did i mention human choices rarely make any sense. And the bad guy, is in reality doing a good thing. Dont trust a massive lizard than can destroy cities? He gets my vote!

The previous films were ok in my opinion.

This however has tried to raise the bar in how stupid a film can get. And is about the only things it does well.

Godzilla and his opponents deserve better than this.

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Starship Troopers

Brilliant action sci-fi. But its also much much more

(Edit) 13/08/2021

I re watched as recommended by a youtuber.

His reason was you watch it once when your young and enjoy the action and sci-fi. But think nothing more.

Then you watch it again, older with wiser eyes and its like a different film.

Indeed, not only is this still thoroughly enjoyable (and trounces almost any modern scifi) it also has wit and humour and clever political messaging (note i say clever, not the clumsy and irritating 'support who i say for or else' messages you get today)

It also completely avoids comparison with Aliens (the king of all action sci-fi). Where any other soldiers v aliens film would almost always copy from or just head down a path which would lead to comparison and a nasty defeat. This seems to skillfully set itself far enough apart to be incomparable.

Probably worthy of 5 stars, but as its not quiet up there with Robocop or Aliens i give it 4. But its a must see 4.

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Don't Speak

so so bad. what was i thinking

(Edit) 27/07/2021

This has a the feeling of an 'alien on earth' type film.

group of people v an unknown entity.

In principle its fine, why not.

But its executed so badly. Its obviously been done on a very small budget but that no excuse for how bad this is. Indeed, after watching darkstar its become apparent to me haivng no budget wont stop a good (ok, carpenter is a bit more than good!) director making a great film.

There are plenty of lingering close ups in perfect light on items out of the costume cupboard re-purposed for monster effects

It also has far to many horrible inconsistences. The creatures senses appear poorly developed, an old woman loads a pistol by forcing bullets into the handle, car issues are scripted and acted out with what is clearly zero mechanical knowledge. (thinking about it i dont think the bullets were even for that particular weapon!)

There is lots of running around and yelling, one of the cast just wimpers all the time.

The creatures itself was interesting on the whole. How it hunted, its method of attack (it looked silly but appears to be a case of deliberate injury) its life cycle. But all of this was just teased and just used to move the story on and give reasons for people to scream. Not increase our knowledge and fear of it.

Youd be better off watching Alien or the thing again (even the original thing come to think of it. Thats a much better film than this)

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The Curse of Hobbes House

What the other guy said

(Edit) 12/07/2021

AER says it perfectly.

All i can add is the family and i unanimously agreed this was one of the worst films we have ever seen. How it got on my list i dont know.

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Survive the Night

Awesome what not to do home invasion documentry

(Edit) 22/11/2020

They should make more documentaries like this.

Having someone like Bruce Willis demonstrate things you shouldnt do in this situation really adds some interest.

Not only does this documentry show you what not to do if your home is invaded by a couple of loons, it also shows you what not to do if you ARE a deranged loon. Few programs run such information in parallel so well.

I came away a new person. I learnt so much watching this. Tomorrow im going to take my family through the list of things not to do, that i learnt from this.

I cant wait for part 2 which shows us what we should do. Be it the invaded, or invaders

As per everyone elses reviews, seriously, dont watch this garbage.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Arguably the best of all Star Trek

(Edit) 22/11/2020

I never liked this when i was kid. I didnt get all the rambling and poignant moments. The action was short and lacked excitement etc etc.

but now im older I can see why this is such a revered film amongst fans.

You need to understand trek and the relationships between the characters to really appreciate it.

Here we see Kirk as an old man, he is past his prime and even makes mistakes. But he stands out as a brilliant leader.

There is also the chemistry of the main 3 actors. Something I felt was a massive fail and missing of the point in the reboot. The 3 work fantastically together. Completely different characters that use there differences for humour, subvertly explaining whats happening, offering balanced views. Often a scene is made up of few words. Because the words used really count. Its brilliant stuff.

To be fair its not a 5 star film. It shows its age and would likely bore most people. But compared to any trek made today this is an utter masterpeice and true to what is real star trek.

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The New Statesman: Series 1

As funny as it is scary

(Edit) 04/11/2020

My parents loved this, and watching it with them changed my political view for ever.

Not because of the clear bias in the show, but how it made clear what really does happen when you let a certain type of person have such influence. So rather than question or accept a policy or decision directly the question often becomes 'who gains what' And as the show points out, the 'who gains what' can often comprise of several layers!

But beside the politics its actually pretty funny. In the most part thanks to the brilliant Rik Mayall. The guy was massively talented and fantastic entertainer.

Few things stand the test of time, but Rik has. Watching him today as a parent he is every bit as funny as when i first watched him as a child.

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The Big Ugly

really bad

(Edit) 25/10/2020

Given the cast i figured this might be ok.

How wrong could i be. The story is just everywhere and so full of 'character does x coz plot'.

Nothing makes sense, and the only thing of remoted interest - Ron and Malcolms relationship is little more than teased.

Vinny - I need somewhere to stay

Woman who has never seen him before - Ok, here's my keys.

This is one really, really bad film.

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