Film Reviews by PV

Welcome to PV's film reviews page. PV has written 892 reviews and rated 1744 films.

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The Babadook

Excellent, Efficiently-scary, Budget Australian Horror

(Edit) 12/10/2021

I ad no idea what to expect with this film but was pleasantly surprised. It is a superb little horror movie, especially the first two acts, and genuinely scary - because it uses suggestion. Compare to unscary horrors which OD on CGI and reveals.

The suggestion is from pictures in a book - not CGI monsters. Lots of shadows and creaking doors opening. Great! And the horror is transferred to viewers via the characters and their reactions.

This film is a lesson in how to make an effective horror movie on a low budget. CGI fanatics, please watch. Though many teens these days seem to want in-you-face CGI monsters all through a horror film - pure gore-fests. Not scary at all.

Similar to some possession movies like The Exorcist or others, I suppose. And a book coming to life is an old idea, in the early 20th century short stories of MR James like the 'Mezzotint'. The image coming to life has been used more recently with TV and online monsters, as in The Ring.

It would be 5 stars but the third act and ending (NO SPOILERS) was not satisfying for me - though I know films have to end somewhere. I just didn't buy it, however.

Genuinely scary - and don't mention the lovely little dog!

4 stars

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Rome: Blood and Sand

Decent-enough 6-parter. A bit B-movie - Italian co-production

(Edit) 10/10/2021

This is decent enough - just one series of 6 parts.

I preferred the HBO 'Rome' drama from 2007 which was on BBC2 - I think more classy with a higher budget. Sometimes this is a bit B-movie, and an Italian co-production.

But watchable and entertaining. Not 100% sure of historical accuracy which is totally different from 'Rome' the BBC2 series.

But anyway, so decent actors and fights - obviously taking a cue from blockbuster movie Gladiator.

4 stars. Just

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Monos

So-so Lord of the Flies in South America

(Edit) 06/10/2021

As others have mentioned, this film is clearly influenced by Lord of the Flies (even a pig.,s head!) and Apocalypse Now (based on Conrad;'s novel Heart of Darkness). Nothing wrong in that. Everything is influenced by everything else and movies always steal.

The issue is this film seems to think it is profound and deep. It isn't. All the guff about a mystery 'Organisation'; is pointless as South America has a great many extremist groups and hostages often taken and ransomed.

Watch NARCOS the great TV series. That shows it all better than this. And it had wonderful plots unlike this one. Great shots of the rainforest in that too.

Or watch Green Inferno for horror down South America way or the great Apocalypto. Or Jungle, starring Harry Potter.

The usual arty critics have fawned over it. That is a warning sign.

It is not BAD - it is just not that good. The plot of wafer thin. I felt no real sense of horror or menace either.

It's all a bit MEH really. 3 stars

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The Dead Center

Brilliant, Intelligent Low-budget Horror Film

(Edit) 05/10/2021

I loved this. One of those small,. low-budget films which is way better than most high-budget Hollywood movies.

Full of suspense and genuinely scary. A neat little plot which I fully expect Hollywood to steal soon.

Sure there's the usual supernatural guff but the psychology is what makes it - the edge of seat stuff, and a few jumps out of the seat.

4.5 stars rounded up. One of the best horror films I have seen in ages (together with The Bay and Burning Bright, also on Horror TV channels)

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Dream Horse

Excellent, Entertaining, Funny, Heart-Warming True Story Set in Wales

(Edit) Updated 04/10/2021

I loved this. I first thought it may be a bit twee - and yes, the way the film deliberately makes it a 'strong woman' story is rather against the truth as shown in the documentary film DARK HORSE 2015 - watch that first).

However, it was not smeared on with a trowel and the film developed nicely in all ways - plot, character and some laugh-out-loud lines too.

Yes, the Welsh stereotypes are there (there is more to South Wales than poverty in the Valleys) but I shall let it pass.

Loved the Welsh national anthem bit and the great cast of actors. Including the wonderful Darren Evans as Goose - every film he is in is worth watching,

I also loved the singing of Tom Jones song Delilah - esp as the local MP has tried to ban it (claims it causes domestic violence....hmmm... it's a SONG!)

I am utterly uninterested in horses and racing - but I loved it.

Watch till the end for a great little musical sequence. That shows the actors next to the real-life people.

GREAT FUN!

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Lion

'Slumdog' True Story set in India

(Edit) 03/10/2021

OK so this is a remarkable true story. That is true and it is based on an autobiography.

However, as a film it is clearly riding the SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE coat tails. It is also too slushy as if it feels it must have the love story. You could cut those girlfriend bits and make it run more smoothly - the craving for heart is constant in Hollywood though, but it is layered on with a trowel too much for me. The street dancing bit - YEUCK!

Fascinating story, though romanticising non-white cultures - or ethnophilia - is an issue maybe. As bad as demonising them really, and patronising.

Some cartoon character baddies in here and one wonders if it is ALL actually 100% true - most autobiographies are not. Great performance from the child actor.

Lovely Tasmanian scenery too and interesting contrast with the brother.

Nice to see overpopulation mentioned by the mother character: THE reason why there are so many teeming millions and homeless kids in the first place.

3 stars

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Fargo: Series 3

The best Fargo series of the 3. JUST BRILLIANT!

(Edit) 03/10/2021

I loved this. Fargo series 2 got a bit silly - still a good watch but not a great one. THIS is a great one.

I do not usually like Ewan Macgregor - his smugness overwhelms. Here however he plays two brothers with aplomb - ONLY to have the show stolen from him by fellow Brit David Thewlis, with the most memorable grotesque portrayal of a character on screen for years. LOVED IT!

The plot twists wonderfully and some episodes are so original in production that it's breath-taking. One or two bits miss - I dislike any references to other Coen Bros movies, bowling alleys etc. BUT these are small gripes.

Also the ending suggests a series 4 - and who knows of the Thewlis Varga character will appear again. The East German hinterland beckons maybe?

All in all for me, this 3rd is the best FARGO series., Second is series 1. The plot, writing, characters, setting, acting - ALL superb ALL spot on.

5 stars. BRILLIANT!

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Mortal Engines

Strictly for fantasy and steam punk fans

(Edit) 14/09/2021

Gosh - reading the 5 star reviews I feel as if I have watched a different movie.

I lasted 40 minutes of this dross. I rarely fail to finish a film but just could not stand it any more!

Special effects are the usual CGE but the story is ludicrous.

I suspect it is strictly for fantasy movie buffs and steal punk fans (though I do not mind BRAZIL).

Not my teacup.

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A Quiet Place: Part II

Predictable, 'Milking-it', CGI-fest, Forgettable Sequel with Laughable Scenes

(Edit) 12/09/2021

No idea why this is getting 4 star reviews. For the first film, yes. Not for this Jaws 2 level sequel.

It is yet another weak sequel milking it for all its worth. Silly non-plot, all the usual #metoo pc woke box-ticking casting. Goes nowhere - predictable cartoon character nonsense. I like Cillian Murphy loads, but this is just a pay cheque film.

The fist film was genuinely original - though many sci-fi stories had already covered the ground. Not movies though and the sound design was brilliant.

If you like computer games, CGI and have the attention span of a 12 year old, this may well be for you. It is forgettable drivel.

I actually laughed at some of the scenes - the creatures swimming? Or being unable to? Could never work it out.

If you want a real class monster movie, watch Jurassic Park, which has REAL animals which did once exist (though a fictionaised version) not fake monsters in an absurd alien plot and trite, lazy, by-numbers plot, sub-plot and character arcs. No doubt there'll be a 3 and a 4 if it keeps coining it, and then it will continue to eat itself - that started when they made a meal of this sequel.

For me, 1 star with half added for the couple of scare scenes and the song LA MER, then rounded up to 2.

2 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Chaos Walking

Laughable, Tedious, pc Sci-Story made according to new #MeToo rules

(Edit) 09/09/2021

The only thing that amazed me about this film is how all the actors in it manage to keep a straight face while speaking their absurd lines.

The wonderful Mads Mikkelsen phones it in no doubt thinking of the pay cheque. Tom Holland is clear eye candy for the expected teen audience, no doubt - used as much as any starlet of old Hollywood was. Apparently, that hypocrisy is just fine in the new woke world of metoo.

This is based on highly acclaimed YA books by Patrick Ness - a massively over-rated author and darling of the pc publishing scene. But the whole concept of the plot is sexist - against men. Pure misandry - claiming what this story claims. No spoilers. But if you could not read someone's thoughts, is it realistic to expect you would murder them all? All the fault or the book not the film - as are the 'Spackle'. What a limp name for an 'alien' species. Sounds Spangles, the kids; sweets. Maybe Patrick Ness was eating one and his genius imagination came up with it. No wonder the book won awards eh?

This film is confusing, silly, illogical and ticks all the pc boxes - if #MeToo had made a sci-fi movie, it'd look like this mess.

It cost $100 million to make and made $25 million only, so a massive flop. It had a script from 2011 rewritten multiple times with poor test screenings leading to more rewrites and shoots. Just so people know what a mess to expect.

I am only giving this 2 stars not 1 because the special effects of the 'noise' are done well, and the soundtrack music is decent so 1.5 stars rounded up. Not good.

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The Father

Anthony Hopkins' towering performance saves and makes this sometimes confusing film

(Edit) 08/09/2021

What makes this film special is the towering performance of Anthony Hopkins who is always a joy to watch. I can watch him in anything.

By contrast, I find Olivia Coleman (stage name) annoying and irritating, so just tolerate her.

The script comes from a stage play, and the director stated he wanted to adapt it to be cinematic and not stagey - nevertheless, it is a bit stagey. And it is very French - it feels French, somehow. Bourgeois Paris transplanted to London maybe? The original play was set in Paris.

I know the script is meant to reflect the confusion of dementia; however, it is still confusing and not all is resolved in the end. I watched this alone but would have liked to watch it to others maybe so they could explain it to me. The whole issue of France and Paul... (no spoilers). Baffling. I may watch it again one day and see if I get that bit.

Also irritating - as in so many films - is the idea ordinary British people like in such houses and apartments (posh ones are not called flats apparently). This is Maida Vale London W( where a 2 bed flat in a mansion block costs £1.2 million minimum - the flat here is larger, so 1.5 or 1.8 million maybe. And then the daughter has a similar flat too. So this is \a seriously rich family, Nor ordinary middle class British people at all.

This is annoying and wrong - no wonder Americans all seem to think we live in Downtown Abbey! Most Brits like in small flats in London and normal suburban semis and terraced houses otherwise. Not this millionaire luxury. This may be that Paris Bourgeois effect again. But it is what I call the PADDINGTON EFFECT as the Browns in that film live in a mansion which would cost at least 3 million quid ad maybe five. In the Paddington books, the Browns live in an ordinary semi. Film-makers deliberately posh up movie adaptations to appeal to American and world audiences. The Downtown effect again. JUST STOP IT!

The DVD comes with a half hour zoon interview with him and the director and Olivia Coleman which is illuminating.

All in all, not the masterpiece people claim, but good enough. Up to now though, I suspect TV drama has dealt better with issues of dementia and mental health generally.

3.5 stars rounded up.

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The Keeper

Enjoyable Biopic - Partly-fictionalised, yes, and sugar-coated, but still a decent British film

(Edit) Updated 08/09/2021

I enjoyed this. Like many biopics, it fits a well-worn mould of overcoming adversity to succeed, with flashbacks, emphasis on bad experiences in the past, and ending in victory and redemption. I do wonder how much of it was true though - esp the WWII 'event'. No mention of that in the Wiki page. I suspect it is pure fiction, intended to make visual possible guilt and trauma of the war. Trautman did serve with his unit on the Eastern Front where most were killed and must have seen horrors.

What is true is that he broke his neck while goalie for Man City in the FA cup final they won. Trautman was also VERY lucky to be caught by the British after the war and not the Russians (90% Germans they took prisoner died) or the Germans (who would have shot him as a deserter). One senses he knew that which is why he stayed here after the war.. Not a football fan really and most sports films are awful but this is a good watch (as is the distinctly weird Escape to Victory of 1982). I believe there is a statue of Trautman in Manchester? One hopes the usual suspects do not want to tear it down for whatever reason they choose to make up (well he was married 3 times). The sad story of the son is true too - though there is no mention of his other children who came later or a pre-existing daughter or 2 later wives, not even at the end. That does not fit with fairytale romance eh?

Sport and movies do not mix - quite simply because of what Bert says in the film about football being in 'the moment', in 'the now'. SPOT ON. So if you're making a film with a sporting context, you have to decide on the genre - and here and in many other sport films (like the awful 'Wimbledon') that is romance. A love story (no mention this marriage ended in divorce in real life of course though the end credits do reveal she died 1989 while Bert died 2013 aged nearly 90). Or a thriller/war story (Escape to Victory). Sport is not a genre in itself - it is always in 'the now' while a football match is happening. After that it is over. I mean, who watched football matches from the 1970s as we do with films? Sport is immediate. So this film is romance. Fairytale too.

Anyway, I very much enjoyed most of it. This is set in the 1940s/50s some some things jarred - people did NOT whoop back then. In fact not until the 1990s! And some slang used was too modern too. Most people won't notice or care. But I do. It matters.

One also wonders if working class women of the time would have behaved as the two young women featured behave. That is a very common issue in so many films set in the past - whether earlier 20th century of 19th or earlier. Thee are modern 21st century women transplanted into the past so are not authentic for their times. Not most costume drama for this - where women as standard now are 'strong and independent' and say stuff no 16th C court lady would have done. It is pure fiction, fantasy and metoo wishful thinking. Most of all, it is tiresome and predictable and pc - though we can thank the gods that there was at least no colourblind casting at least.

A decent good old-fashioned biopic which succeeds at being that rare thing: a film about sport that works. 4 stars.

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The Haunted

Confused and Confusing British Horror Film

(Edit) 07/09/2021

Perhaps the biggest rule on all story-telling is ensuring the reader/viewer/listener knows what is going on - not everything and certainly not all at once. Reveals are needed later. BUT some clarity is called for, not the confused and confusing third act of this.

I mean, I read the review which said look the ending up online, so I did - and I have to say it did not OCCUR to me that that was the plot and 'reveal'. Not good.

Prior to that this is well done - creepy, creaking haunted house plot basically - a horror film with added #metoo perhaps.

I liked the dementia carer theme which was original. The other so-called twists etc were definitely not.

Made me jump at one point and that gets a star. First act and second worth watching. The ending? Oh dear...

And I do get so sick and tired of any film with child abuse plots - that palled after the first 3000 of em. And these plots always portray older white men as the abusers which is not only racist and sexist, but ageist. Most of all though it is tiresome and lazy.

A great shame it all goes wrong in the third act. I'd have rewritten the script, to be honest, all that part. Forgotten the supposed big reveal surprise which I did not get anyway, and...but...well. The writer/director comes from a background of Waterloo Road, so maybe that is why it is how it is. No good male character in this film at all. Like most UK TV drama these days then eh, esp on the BBC...

2 stars, one for the jump.

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Sneaky Pete: Series 1

Convoluted, Over-populated but Watchable 'Imposter' Conman Thriller

(Edit) 05/09/2021

So, this is co-created by Bryan Cranston and anything with him in is worth watching. It's what he did after the sublime Breaking Bad (the pilot for series 1 is the best ever in US drama arguably though later series jumped the shark somewhat). No way can this reach the masterpiece standard of Breaking Bad, of course.

Both series rely on the same central dramatic tension of 'will the deception be discovered' - as did excellent spy drama (2013-2018) The Americans - and 2 actresses here also feature in that (though the accent of one is the weirdest I have ever heard in any US TV drama series - I think an acting class taught her how to to an English or Scottish accent, but the Klingon version she speaks has no known planet!)

The imposter plot is an old one and there have been many true-life examples - and attempts - in history. A 16th French case was made into the 1982 film The Return of Martin Guerre. The Talented Mr Ripley is another, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel. The Tichbourne Claimant (1998 British film based on a true 1854 case) and the deeply weird documentary The Imposter (2012). Not to mention many Elizabethan plays and ancient myth.

Plenty of conman - and conwoman - films too, of course. The Sting, Paper Moon, American Hustle, Catch Me if you Can, Mississippi Grind. All good - and the card playing plot here certainly adds interest, for the cleverness of the cons and tricks etc. I like magic and card tricks etc so that aspect always appeals to me.

What I disliked was the convoluted plot which involved just too many characters. I suspect some were added just tick inclusion/diversity boxes too. But when, say, female characters look very similar it can get confusing! Some added little or nothing to the film or story in any way, just appeared in a couple of scenes to add colour. Needs a character cull. A good script edit to fight the flab! I think 10 episodes could become 8 too.

The plot is pretty incredible all round BUT then many are, so if you suspend your disbelief it's OK. Though the fact many characters have to explain stuff or that dialogue is deliberately set up to do so rings a few alarm bells. Very clunky at times.

And I hated the constant soundtrack in the background playing like some video game. I suspect this is an attempt by the producers/direct to mimic movies like American Hustle, the Kingsman films and the Now You See Me movies (which I find annoying). No doubt all to appeal to a younger audience with a small attention span - though I doubt many of them would stay with a 10 part series like this with a complex plot.

BUT I enjoyed it and will watch the next series. 4 stars. Just.

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The Other Side of Hope

An unfunny mess of an alleged comedy + very preachy too

(Edit) 03/09/2021

This was like a cartoon caper. The baddies (the racist cartoon character skinheads BOOOOOO!) versus the goodies (Finnish hippies and non-white asylum seekers). It is all two-dimensional cartoon characters If I'd wanted a lecture or sermon I'd have gone to a church. This pc preachiness is not all, however.

As a film which claims in its pose to be against racism and liberal-minded, it does a rather great job of promoting offensive stereotypes against the Japanese (in a point section of the film which has no reason to exist, like others too - all the alleged 'comedy' scenes which are not comedy as I define it).

The plot is not credible and the story does not flow at all.

I suspect the usual adore this film as it is woke and on trend, because that is their way.

However, looking at the film objectively, it is an utter mess. Badly written, with tacked-on musical interludes to pad it all out, and alleged comedy sketches. Time REALLY dragged when watching this mess. It felt like 5 hours. Never again.

No stars.

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