Film Reviews by PV

Welcome to PV's film reviews page. PV has written 734 reviews and rated 1567 films.

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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Contrived, stagey, arty, revenge drama film with silly mysticism theme

(Edit) 18/02/2020

I really disliked this film - more as it went on.

No plot spoilers but really when movies start with the spiritual guff, especially when it comes from nowhere, I tend to tune out. The first act is fine but after the halfway point, I wanted to chuck this DVD out of the window.

There is NO explanation where the mystical stuff comes from - the writers (incl the director) just though it'd be fun to add it, I suppose. So why not a space ship too, some aliens, maybe a unicorn - they would make as much sense.,

The acting is fine and the slow pace arty as expected. It's pretentious, unbelievable and silly - and nowhere near as clever as it thinks it is - though I can see the roots of this story in Ancient Greek drama which it rips off (as so many soaps). Why arty types worship this director I shall never know. This is a boring stage play brought to life - slowly.

And no way is this as bad as the dreadful THE LOBSTER by the same director.

But really, if you want a revenge drama, watch MISERY or CAPE FEAR (original drama) or even JAWS or the excellent NIGHT OF THE HUNTER - panned on release which is why the British gay director Charles Laughton (played Henry VIII in 1930s and Hunchback of Notre Dame) could not face making another film. BUT IT IS BRILLIANT. And all those moves are far more intelligent than this arty tosh.

1.5 stars rounded up

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MacKenna's Gold

Excellent Western Adventure Yarn from 1969

(Edit) 15/02/2020

I loved this film when I watched it on TV as a kid in the late 70s so thought I'd watch it again - and loved it. Yes, it's dated in a way - but so what? Some so-called progress in movies such as CGI or pc quota casting is often not progress at all.

Lots of stars here - Gregory Peck. Tele Savalas, Anthony Quale. And loads of wonderful Apache who these days would not pass the pc censorship test as the actors who play them are not real Native Americans! See what I mean about 'progress' - it's ACTING, for goodness sake. The nonsense of so-called 'authentic casting' now does not recognise that!

The music is pretty awful and by the great Quincy Jones who, less than 15 years later, was writing and producing THRILLER with Michael Jackson.

If you like a good Western and some good old hokum about finding gold with goodies and baddies, then you'll like this; If you demand CGI, quick edits and pc casting, you won't.

But I give it 4.5 stars rounded up. It's one of the best cowboys and Indian movies ever.

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Crawl

Dreadful Boring B-Movie with MeToo 'strong woman' lead and Alligators. Yawn.

(Edit) 06/02/2020

This movie was SO boring - I was prepared to give it a go, but honestly, the more it plodded on the more tedious it got.

A typically #MeToo absurd story line - the lead is a 'strong and independent' woman and conveniently a wonderful swimmer - because of course no alligator could possible swim as fast as such a strong and empowered girlpower star. Yawn.

Very boring compared to some great disaster monster movies, like the Jurassic Park series (all of them) or some shark movies.

The CGI alligators are OK . That is the only good thing I can say.

AS real turkey. 1 star.

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Atomic Shark

Awful Puerto-Rican Shark Movie - maybe the worst shark movie ever made.

(Edit) 03/02/2020

This has to be THE worst shark movie ever.

It reminds me of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE by the worst director in history, ED WOOD (as played by Johnny Depp in the wonderful movie with Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi). That is a great film. This is a dreadful one - it even uses stock footage like Ed Wood of nuclear explosions etc.

An absurd plot and wooden acting - though occasionally one senses it's comedy horror but nowhere near enough. I did toy with giving it 2 stars for some one-liners but the whole thing is just so awful, I stopped myself just in time.

It tries to be modern - text messages and online stuff, as well as drones. A daft play re nuclear bombs and a glowing red hot radioactive shark and silly plot points make this a tedious watch. Even worse than Ghost Shark.

Made in that world champion of the film industry, Puerto Rico.

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Vikings: Series 5: Part 1

Entertainingly gory Viking series which take massive liberties with historical fact

(Edit) 03/02/2020

I give this 3.5 stars rounded up - it's not as good as earlier series, as great characters die and leave. It is still watchable though with plenty of violence, family feuding, Viking atrocities etc.

First, the comedy: it is truly hilarious to watch all these pretty Vikings with peachy faces with barely a blemish, so well dressed and with perfectly complete and white teeth. The Vikings must have been brilliant dentists eh? And then the many female warriors - all pretty lookers with long blonde hair, who behave just like women in 2020! This all says way more re #MeToo than about the 9th century. And now even gay/lesbian storylines.

History is interpreted here to meet 21st century audience expectations. There are historical facts as with Ivar the Boneless (who may have just been impotent not a 'cripple') and Alfred becoming king (though in real life 2 of his brothers ruled for short periods before him) and the Vikings did take York etc. It's a fascinating glimpse into the 9th century BUT huge liberties have been taken with plot etc. For example, is there really any record of Vikings in Saharan Africa? And actually, Muslims did not make women wear burqas until they stole the idea from Byzantine Christians in the 111th century.

But it's all gory and bloodybathy, and some real grand guingnol keeps things splattering along nicely.

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The Professor

Enjoyable 'Dead Poets' meets 'Breakfast Club' Johnny Depp Vehicle

(Edit) 26/01/2020

I enjoyed this film, esp the first act and to some extent the second BUT the final third ruined it for me - not spoilers.

US movies always have to descend into slushy sentimentalism often with a mystical, spiritual, quasi-religious flavour, and these days the woke virus ruins them too. Shame.

It's sort of like a cross between Dead Poets Society and The Breakfast Club updated for these pc woke diverse days.

It's a minor movie though, and not ground-breaking like those two - but pleasant enough.

But for some of the one liners and scenes it the first half, I give this 4 stars.

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The Statue

A Very Dated 1970 British Comedy Curio like NO SEX PLEASE. WE'RE BRITISH (John Cleese co-stars)

(Edit) 24/01/2020

This is one of those movies based on stage plays that for a brief period in the last 60s were very popular, no doubt an innuendo-drenched reaction to the lifting of stage censorship by the Lord Chancellor in 1966.

Other plays in the same vein are NO SEX PLEASE. WE'RE BRITISH and THERE'S A GIRL IN MY SOUP. None of this stuff has aged well. Benny Hill has - watch that on YouTube.

These days, it looks SO dated - as if the sight of a penis on a statue would be enough to get an A certificate or a ban. Maybe it was funny in the late 60s/early 70s. Now it's more a curiosity piece. No doubt these days the feminists would call it sexist and get hysterical. It may therefore be fun to organise a MeToo film show just for them!

John Cleese plays a funny character - a psychiatrist who hates patients and psychiatry - and Tim Brooke-Taylor also there doing a posho character, suited to these public school-educated Python-esque comedians.

3 stars - for students of film either.

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The Message

Overlong Religious Propaganda Epic Set in 7th Century

(Edit) 18/01/2020

I remember the fuss when this film was shown in cinemas in the last 70s - the first time ever I heard of Islamic protests and demands. Little did I know what was coming down the line...

Anyway, it is a so-so but overlong epic - however, it whitewashes a lot, and reading books by Peter Townsend can fill in those gaps.

Many will be surprised at the promotion that Islam treats women as equals and does not force people into marriage or force them to convert to Islam - a light reading of history would debunk both.

The film makers were not brave enough to show Mohammad as a speaking character - instead the camera is him in a way reminiscent of the classic early 60s film PEEPING TOM, bizarrely.

If you like sword and sandals epics like Ben Hur of The Greatest Story Ever Told and those long 1950s films they used to play at Easter on the BBC (before it decided to ignore all Christian festivals but commemorate those of other faiths) then you'll like this.

It does show Islam as a warrior religion which fights - it also shows rightly that slavery was accepted by Muslims, and is, some would argue.

Interesting to watch. A bit of a curiosity piece really. Hamza played by Mexican-American actor Anthonio Quinn (Zorba the Greek; the Old Man of the Sea). These days no doubt casting would be what they now absurdly call 'ethnically appropriate' but Anthony Quinn and other acts do well. This is before CGI too and battle scenes are decent enough.

3 stars.

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Vikings: Series 4: Part 2

Viking Saga Which Pushes the PC #MeToo Boats Out and Then Some...

(Edit) 19/01/2020

I enjoyed this though I probably enjoyed earlier series more. The pc gets greater as the series progresses - absurd female characters which say a great deal about the gender politics of now, not then. Pure femi-fantasy. Seeing female Viking warriors fighting in battles and killing 20 men is pure femi-fantasy, as is women leading and ordering their husbands (often kings) around.

Anyway, this series skips forward a few years and shows a ravaged RAGNAR crumbling as we see England again (though Wessex is in the West Country so NOT on England's east coast facing Norway - these boats would have had to go south through the English Channel then bear west to come ashore anywhere near Wessex; Northumbria is by contrast just over the sea from Norway). BUT then many places and towns in the west of England and Wales have names from the Norse Viking language.

His sons are grown (but why are their teeth so whitened and complete?) and plenty of potential there for conflict later, and the Mediterranean adventure should be fascinating. I hope it's not all too woke. I shudder to think what the BBC would have done with a Viking story - probably made it as 'diverse' and dreadful as Dr Who. I enjoy the lack of diversity in this and put up with all the silly tales of Viking queens - all amazingly good looking with long golden hair (yeah right).

I very much like the historical accuracy - there was a famous French king called ROLLO at this time (and William the Conquerer of 1066 fame was the grandson of Vikings who defeated and oppressed the French peasants, NORMANS are names after these NORTHMEN).

And of course there is Alfred, son of Athalstan the spared priest from Lindisfarne - all codswallop BUT of course, Alfred the Great (and his son) DID unite England. Visit Winchester to see his statue - that was the capital of Wessex. He died in 900 AD to the dates are correct.

Good fun epic,. so long as you do not see it as factual history, though it takes from that and adds the fantasy of our modern attitudes.

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The Dinosaur Project

Hugely Enjoyable 'Mockumentary' about Finding Dinosaurs in Modern-day Congo. I LOVED it.

(Edit) 12/01/2020

I only recently found out about this 2012 film so rented it out - and what a joy! It's a story about a documentary crew going into the Congo jungle to search for a reported creature in the rivers, but find much more (no spoilers).

This uses the technique of a found documentary film, like BLAIR WITCH or CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST and others, to great effect - the hand-held video footage brings the action closer somehow and gives it stronger flavour of realism.

But the characters and plot are believable too - yes, some may be two-dimensional tropes and even stereotypes, but so what? People do behave like stereotypes, and that is why they exist in the first place: they are based on truth.

The CGI effects are great, and totally believable. A nice selection of creatures and some genuinely scary moments.

This movie is SO watchable - I was glued to the screen.

True, I am as much a lover of dinosaur movies as I am a hater or superhero blockbusters, but even though, I have seen some pretty dire dinosaur films and this is up there in the top 10 of all time, maybe even top 5. A shame there is no sequel.

Shot in South Africa, though I am unsure how much the spectacular landscapes are real or CGI, or probably a combination of both.

5 stars. I could watch it all again now.

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Vikings: Series 4: Part 1

Watchable and Violent Viking Saga Series

(Edit) 12/01/2020

OK so some of this series is very silly - all the women with long luscious hair and make-up who fight in battles and beat professional male soldiers by the score (no doubt because the Vikings had such 'strong independent women' lol).

But it does what it says on the tin. LOADS of tribal/clan infighting; lots of violence and battles; some mystical guff and talk of gods incl a clash between Norse ones and Christianity. But it also travels - to Britain to start with - now Wessex and Mercia; also Paris, which is a true even in the 9th century. Two Viking attacks on Paris in the 840s and 890s, I think.

Some characters here are real. King Alfred (here a child visiting Rome on pilgrimage which actually did happen) united England really (he died in 900 and a statue in Winchester), or at least his son did. The writer/s weave this into the plot. Rollo was also in charge of Paris.

There is a tantalising mention of the Mediterrranean here - they found a map on the Paris raid in the last series - so I suppose that's the next adventure.

Ragnar Lothbrock struggles here, hynotised by a Chinese slave really, with an addiction theme raising its head BUT it is all about leadership, raids and getting wealth, as ever with the Vikings.

An interesting series and way better than the absurd Britannia.

4 stars.

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I Am David

Film Adaptation of a Classic Danish Book about Communist Concentration Camps

(Edit) 08/01/2020

Having read the book (by Danish author Ann Holm) st school when aged 13 I would certainly recommend that more than this film - I also recommend the radio drama adaptation from maybe 15 years ago on BBC Radio 4. That is superior to this. But the nature of the story make it so. It simply cannot be all that cinematic really. I think they changed the end in this adaptation too. My memory of the book is vague but I am sure it was different.

The story deals with an important and oft-forgotten issue - that if camps run under communist regimes. This is set in one such camp in 1952 in Bulgaria. Millions suffered in such camps and died too.

I am unsure of the casting here. The boy who plays the main character has the right look, but his voice is way too posh - it reminds me of all those 1970s and 80s BBC children's TV adaptations of old books. The kids were straight out of prep school even when playing Victorian street urchins. This film is 15 years old and the main actor seems to have disappeared without trace anyway and I have never seen him in anything else. His voice is just too posh and maybe too 'small' too. Some voices are. The face fits though.

One MASSIVE error in this movie is a globe of the world showing The Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. In 1952? It was Czechoslovakia then - from the end of WWII and the Communist putsch of 1948. Not separate countries again until 1 January 1993. Bad error.

But well worth watching, this film - the issue needs highlighting especially amongst the snowflake woke generation who often have a dewy-eyed view of Communism. They know nothing. Let this film start teaching them. It's suitable for kids of all ages.

3.5 stars rounded up.

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Deadwood: The Movie

Mediocre pc-box-ticking movie of an Excellent Classic HBO TV Series

(Edit) 19/12/2019

As others have said, the original TV series of Deadwood was wonderful, classic, 5 stars and near perfect - a shame that HBO cancelled it and would not make a 4th series. FOR SHAME!

This spin-off movie is mediocre and, sadly, it has become infected with the pc-box-ticking diversity #metoo virus like so many Hollywood movies now too SO we simply must have empowered strong and independent women storylines (even same sex relationship too) and of course a racism theme with a black character (rare is a modern movie that does not have this trite cliched theme these days). Yawn. Seen it all a million times now and IT IS BORING. Yes, we get the message: racism is BAD; women can DO STUFF. Blah blah blah. Stop the polemic and lectures. ENOUGH ALREADY!

A wafer-thin plot that takes a while to get going make this like one of the weaker episodes of the TV series.

What makes it great is seeing the old characters again esp Ian McShane who, in the UK, will forever be Lovejoy the dodgy antiques dealer from the 1980s TV series. He fits the role perfectly and steals every scene - unlike some others (too much deliberate focus on the female characters makes the film lose focus, ironically). McShane is on top coughing form. The dialogue is nice and fruity too! Almost baroque.

No spoilers but the final act is wonderful really (it helps to know the characters backstory from the TV series though to make sense of the use of music etc).

Good to see Mr Wu again and make good use of his pigs, He has a boy now too, which doubles the south-east Asian diversity quota.

So really, forgettable and a bit of a vanity project, one feels. And sad no more TV series BUT makes me want to watch all 3 TV series again because Deadwood is certainly one of the best TV drama series of the last 15 years, and maybe the best ever depiction of the 'Wild West' or, at least, South Dakota in the late 19th century.

Meh, 2 stars.

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Teen Spirit

Feel-good B-Movie Cinderella Story Which Fails to Grab the Interest

(Edit) 13/12/2019

I wanted to like this film. However, I have seen much better parodies of TV talent shows than this (the best being Spanish movie REALITY and UK novel RASMUS). This is just silly - I didn't believe in it.

For some reason the heroine lives in a massive house owned by her supposedly poverty-stricken mother too, something often see in the past and in UK movies now (in Paddington the film the family live in a house worth at least £3 million; in the books it's a modest suburban semi).

I suspect the Polish family aspect and the Croatian has-been opera singer manager were tacked on to tick the diversity boxes, make it all somehow timely and relevant, maybe to even make a political point about how wonderful immigration is BUT this film does not seem state-funded by the BBC, FilmFour, the BFI which all worship diversity, so why bother. The director is the son of famous, rich, Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella so I am guessing that, like Sophia Coppola, he didn't have to struggle to get into the movie business either.

It is a deeply old-fashioned 'meh' movie much better suited to being a TV drama, frankly, and becomes more annoying as it goes on.

Kids may like it more, maybe. But just maybe.

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Sorry to Bother You

The sort of movie stupid people think is clever...

(Edit) 13/12/2019

The more I watched this movie - which I very nearly turned off before the end several times - the more stupid it became. It's basically a TV comedy show made movie, and probably appeals more to one key racial US demographic.

If you want to watch a real comedy about capitalism then try BREWSTER'S MILLIONS or THE MILLION POUND NOTE, or maybe even WALL STREET or MARGIN CALL.

This is just B-movie trash. Popcorn for the eyes and so forgettable I can barely remember it now. Sill special effects too.

1 star

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