Film Reviews by GI

Welcome to GI's film reviews page. GI has written 250 reviews and rated 837 films.

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Alien 3

Better Than Reported

(Edit) 17/05/2021

This is actually a rather effective finale in a trilogy that tells the story of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and her relationship with the iconic alien creature. To appreciate this film requires two key things, first that the 2003 'Special Edition' is the version viewed and that the silly Alien Resurrection (1997), which followed it, is ignored (it took the franchise nowhere). This is despite the controversies surrounding Alien3 not least that the director, David Fincher, has more or less disowned it due to studio interference (the 2003 version is closest to his vision of the film and it's vastly superior to the theatrical release version). The story picks up almost immediately from the conclusion of Aliens (1986) and Ripley crash lands on a desolate planet formerly a huge industrial lead refinery and now a maximum security prison housing an all male set of rapists and murderers. Unfortunately an alien is also loose and with no weapons and the notorious 'company' somehow involved Ripley has to find a way to destroy this new threat and survive. Aliens was always going to be a difficult act to follow and returning to a story where there's just one alien to contend with after an army of them in the previous film was potentially an anticlimax. But we now have Ridley Scott's prequels to consider (both also worthy of reconsideration) and Alien3 fits quite neatly into the full story of the history of the creature. This is especially relevant in regards to how the creature takes on an appearance dependant on it's environment and helps create a more interesting evolutionary story. Alien3 is in itself a tense, bloody chase story, full of menace and threat and with a superb cast (most of whom are British - Pete Postlethwaite, Phil Davis, Brian Glover, Paul McGann, Ralph Brown) and continues with a bleak, uninspiring vision of a future that despite advanced technology holds little for humanity, encapsulated in the 'company', here given a name for the first time, which is prepared to, literally, risk the future of humanity itself in the pursuit of profit. A film that is worthy of re-evaluation and to round off the 'Ripley' story. I certainly recommend it if you haven't seen it and to try again if you found it unrewarding before.

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Aliens

Action Science Fiction - Brilliant

(Edit) 15/05/2021

A fantastic, exciting and gutsy sequel to the 1979 science fiction classic and it cleverly takes the story in a completely different direction and sets itself as a combat film over a basic horror narrative. It also focuses on the central character of Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) giving her more complexity and depth. After drifting in space for 57 years Ripley, the sole survivor from the first film, is rescued but finds the 'company' deny any culpability in the deaths of her crew mates. She is forced to return to the planet where the derelict alien craft was located because communications with the new colonists there has stopped. Ripley accompanies a team of tough marines who have no idea what dangers the plant holds. Plenty of action, tension, scares and a gripping plot make this a film that is the equal of the original and arguably it's one of director James Camerons best films. Considering the franchise that followed this introduces the theme of motherhood into the main character but ultimately this is science fiction action cinema at its very best. It's a visual treat with a dreary, industrial vision of the future including vehicles and advanced weaponry. There's a brilliantly haunting score and a first rate cast including Michael Biehn and the late, great Bill Paxton. A top film that never fails to entertain, and one to most definitely see if you enjoyed the 1979 original. The version to check out is the 1991 'Special Edition' which replaced scenes removed from the theatrical release but which enhance the story and action.

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Emma

OK Jane Austen Adaptation

(Edit) 14/05/2021

An adaptation of Jane Austen's eighteenth century comedy of manners. It's a lovely looking film, shot in delightful buttery hues and the sense of privilege of the characters in the period is wonderfully captured. Overall this latest version doesn't offer anything much that's new and it's a pretty faithful retelling of this story (the director seems to like showing buttocks which are surprisingly on offer at various times). Anya Taylor-Joy plays Emma as the bored rich girl who delights in match-making but who makes a right royal cock up when she tries to sort her friend, the low-born and gawky Harriet (Mia Goth), out with the local Reverend (Josh O'Connor). It all goes horribly wrong and affects her own suppressed love for the handsome Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn). The first third of the film is a little confusingly told but overall there's nothing wrong here especially if you like period dramas such as this. The cast are good and include the brilliant Bill Nighy as the father and Miranda Hart as the boring Miss Bates who Emma cruelly insults.

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Love and Monsters

Fun Filled Creature Feature

(Edit) 13/05/2021

A fun filled family fantasy movie reminiscent of those wonderful matinees from years ago such as The Lost World (1960) and Jason & The Argonauts (1963), and in similar vein to Zombieland (2009), with a tongue-in-cheek adventure story full of those scary thrills that appeals to the young and the young at heart. The story here is that the multiple missiles fired to destroy an approaching asteroid resulted in radiation fallout contaminating the world and causing insects, amphibians etc to mutate into giant monsters. Survivors have fled to various ramshackle bunkers and seven years after the event hapless Joel (Dylan O'Brien) yearns to see his former girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) who is 85 hazardous miles away. With hopeless survival skills Joel heads off to find her. The film is funny and has a central hero who shrugs his way through the dangers barely making it each time when he is pursued by various creatures all of which are superbly constructed with CGI. O'Brien plays the part of a lovesick fool just right mixing accidental heroics with utter hopelessness. There's a cute dog thrown in just to make it all the more appealing. Like with most apocalyptic narratives it turns out its the humans who are the most dangerous. Michael Rooker has a cameo in this entertaining little film that's just right for family viewing.

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Freaks

Intriguing and Surprising Thriller

(Edit) 13/05/2021

A film that defies expectations and turns out to be a rather intriguing thriller which tips into a bit of horror and a bit of science fiction. It's certainly quite entertaining and I found it quite a pleasant surprise. Its a story centred around seven year old Chloe (Lexy Kolker) who lives in a rundown house with her father (Emile Hirsch). He's over-protective and paranoid and keeps Chloe confined to the house (she's never been outside) and tells her that people are out to kill them. But Chloe, plagued by nightmares and hallucinations, is enticed out by the ice cream man (Bruce Dern) who tells her about her mother, who Chloe had been told was dead. She soon realises her dad has been hiding many truths from her. In order to avoid plot spoilers I'll go no further other than to say that there's a clever story here which, once the general idea is revealed, opens the film to some interesting action set pieces. This is a little different and well worth checking out.

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Alien

Masterpiece

(Edit) 12/05/2021

A masterpiece and a game-changer. A science fiction film that's influence cannot be underestimated, indeed it's style, editing and ideas have been much copied since. When this arrived it was an unbelievable experience, not only because of its, now infamous, scenes but also because of its look, its vision of future technology and the sheer tension and excitement and it went onto spawn a hugely popular franchise with mixed results. But as a key science fiction film this remains a benchmark in the genre. In the far distance future a commercial tug spacecraft, the Nostromo, with it's seven crew in hypersleep, are en route back to Earth. The ship's computer picks up an unknown signal and awakens the crew to investigate. On a small, desolate planet they find an abandoned alien ship but one of the crew is attacked by a strange creature that attaches itself to his face and by bringing it aboard the Nostromo they unleash something very terrible indeed. With it's imagery and themes of primeval awakenings, deviant sexual assault and unique designs by the concept artist H.R. Giger this is a film that deserves close and careful viewing. There's a host of things going on here that are complex and very interesting. There's plenty of shocks including a now very famous and bloody scene and plenty of unexpected twists. The small cast are all exceptional: Tom Skerritt, Sigourney Weaver (in her first major role), John Hurt, Veronica Cartwright, Yaphet Kotto, Harry Dean Stanton and Ian Holm. Director Ridley Scott is responsible for two of the most influential scifi films ever made this being the first. It's a must see film, and I recommend having a look at the Directors Cut which adds some interesting character scenes, a significant extra scene which links it neatly to the sequel Aliens (1986) and trims some other scenes to make them more impactive. A modern masterpiece, if you've never seen it then it's worth your time believe me.

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Alfie

Key British Film

(Edit) 11/05/2021

A key British film of the 1960s and one that really evokes London from that era and of course a film that cemented Michael Caine as a major star. Highly risqué at the time mainly due to the then taboo subject of abortion which is a significant issue of the narrative. Interestingly the misogyny of the main character was less an issue then as it is when the film is watched today and despite the comic veneer this is a serious and at times disturbing film. But it's a film that's a British masterpiece and one I highly recommend if you've never seen it. Caine plays the title character, a jack-the-lad cockney, who's chief goal in life is to bed as many women as he can. He casually views women as objects to be used and cast aside at whim often referring to them as 'it'. But Alfie's attitudes and lifestyle are thrown into chaos by events he tries to treat as lightly as everything else and leaves him destined to a life of loneliness. In the end this is a tragedy, a stark warning of toxic masculinity and selfishness. Caine is superb here in a challenging and controversial role aided by a brilliant support cast of Shelley Winters, Julia Foster, Jane Asher, Denholm Elliott, Vivien Merchant and Millicent Martin. The famous song that accompanies the end titles has two versions, when originally released it was sung by Cher and later replaced by Cilla Black who had a huge hit in the UK with it. A film that has a unique style, Alfie sporadically addresses the viewer in what is often referred to as 'breaking the fourth wall', in what ultimately this is a social drama that confronts some delicate and complex issues. A film to definitely check out.

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Without Remorse

Formulaic Action Thriller

(Edit) 11/05/2021

A by-the-numbers action thriller with a formulaic plot, loads of shooting and a reasonable cast. Other than that it's all a bit routine and whilst entertaining will be quickly forgotten. Adapted from a Tom Clancy novel it fits into the Jack Ryan world and characters with names of Greer and Ritter will be familiar to anyone who either loves Clancy's books or the Harrison Ford starring Ryan films. The central character John Kelly alias Clark (Michael B. Jordan) has appeared in the Jack Ryan films too, most memorably played by Willem Dafoe in Clear And Present Danger (1994). This new film is his origin story. He's a Navy Seal who is part of a CIA op' in Syria to rescue a captured agent. When the team are back in the US some of them are murdered including Kelly's beloved wife and he goes on a revenge mission all because of some conspiracy involving Russians. Jamie Bell, Guy Pearce and Jodie Turner-Smith support in what is a shoot em up. Ok but could have been better.

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The Alamo

Epic Historical Adventure

(Edit) 08/05/2021

John Wayne's epic historical adventure, a passion project for him and the first of only two films he directed in his long career. It's an exciting, grand war epic depicting the 1836 battle of a small Texan mission held by a ragtag bunch of militia and volunteers against the massive Mexican Army who were delayed for fifteen days from their invasion. The battle holds mythical status in the US and Wayne saw it as the pinnacle of the American Dream reflecting his political ideals. That aside it's a highly entertaining film and once the main battle commences it's a cinematic treat. There are some misfires not least in the first third when Wayne adds a big dose of humorous western tropes with saloon fights and drunkenness (he even slips a very small cattle drive in there!), no doubt the effect of years of working with John Ford. The film is also littered with profound, political and macho speeches which spoil the films flow and a pointless, albeit mild, romantic interlude with Linda Cristal. A more experienced director might have trimmed these areas to concentrate on the main battle. Overall though this is a fine film enhanced by three stunning lead performances from Wayne as Davy Crockett, the former Tennessee congressman who fought and died in the battle, Richard Widmark as legendary Jim Bowie and especially Laurence Harvey as the martinet commander of the Alamo, Travis. He was woefully ignored for an Academy nomination which he deserved. There's the usual great support cast of character actors who had long worked with Wayne in his films. As a big war epic this is a film that is worth checking out, it's a rousing and at times very moving film and the battle scenes are wonderful. To top it all it has a very famous score by Dimitri Tiomkin including 'The Green Leaves of Summer'.

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The African Queen

A classic - Romantic Adventure Film Masterpiece

(Edit) 07/05/2021

The classic romantic adventure film with two of Hollywood's biggest stars whose onscreen chemistry is so magical and forms the centre of the film. It's essentially a journey of peril narrative set in Africa in 1914 just after the start of the First World War when the sister of a missionary, the very devout Rose (Katherine Hepburn) is left alone when her brother dies and is faced with the Germans interring all foreign nationals. She is offered a chance of escape by gin swilling Charlie Allnut (Humphrey Bogart) on his grimy tramp steamer 'The African Queen'. But the journey up river is a hazardous one and the continuous danger from the river and trying to avoid detection eventually pushes Rose and Charlie together. This is a marvellous film, shot in glorious technicolour and on location. Bogart and Hepburn are flawless here (Bogart won his only Oscar for his performance) and John Huston's direction is spot on. This is one of those films that makes you fall in love with cinema. It's exciting, touching and has a great climactic confrontation with a German gunboat. If you've never seen this it's a must see and recently released in a new restored BluRay & DVD. A masterpiece.

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Come as You Are

Watchable, funny Road Movie

(Edit) 05/05/2021

A rather unsentimental comedy about three disabled guys trying to lose their virginity. This is essentially a road movie where the three, Scotty (Grant Rosenmeyer), a paraplegic since birth, Matt (Hayden Szeto), paralysed after an operation and sight impaired Mo (Ravi Patel) head to Canada where they have discovered that a brothel catering for the disabled is located. Chased by their worried parents but helped by their no nonsense driver, Sam (Gabourey Sidibe), there are funny moments, the odd silly one and a narrative arc where the three bond and come to terms with their lives. Where the film excels is in the scenes that reveal the daily humiliations the three suffer and the attitudes of naivety and downright unpleasantness from abled bodied persons who have dealings with the three which hit the mark in showcasing the trials and tribulations of disabled persons. Overall this is a briskly told story, based on a true story and a remake of a Belgian film Hasta La Vista (2011). Entertaining and funny as far as it goes although a tad predictable.

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The Adventures of Robin Hood

Classic Romantic Adventure

(Edit) 05/05/2021

British history, even when it's the legendary bits, has been richly mined by cinema not least Hollywood. This is the quintessential historical romantic adventure film that follows the children's Robin Hood stories. It's a rousing swashbuckler full of sword fights, archery battles and a classic tale of good versus evil. All the famous scenes are here, including the archery contest, Robin's rescue from the gallows and the return of Richard The Lionheart (Ian Hunter). Beautifully filmed in rich technicolour it stars the inimitable Errol Flynn, whose best films involved swordplay, the classic cinematic hero. As Robin Hood he dons green tights to fight the dastardly Guy of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone) and the treasonous Prince John (Claude Rains) to literally rob the rich to give to the poor and all for the love of King and Country....oh and the Lady Marian (Olivia de Havilland). This is a wonderful film, one you probably saw as a child and were captivated by the spectacle and action which is fast and fun. There's a famous score by composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold and it's a fine example of the use of leitmotifs. Arguably this is the greatest Robin Hood film, this is cinema at its purest, a wonderful film, and one to enjoy time and time again.

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Ad Astra

Interesting SciFi Epic

(Edit) Updated 05/05/2021

I'll admit I was baffled and underwhelmed when I first saw this. However watching it again and knowing how the story plays out I began to see that this is a very intelligent and complex narrative that reveals a film worthy of re-evaluation. Set about 100 years in the future and space travel has advanced to the point that there's tourism to the moon and Mars has outposts. Brad Pitt plays Roy McBride, a major in the US military space division. He's a loner unable to connect with others including his wife (Liv Tyler). This is due to his family history as his very famous father, Clifford (Tommy Lee Jones), a pioneering astronaut, disappeared 29 years ago on a mission to the outer edges of the solar system to search for other intelligent life. When huge power surges hit the Earth killing thousands of people, Roy is told that it is believed his father is still alive somewhere out there and is the cause of the surges. Realising there's a plan to send a team to locate and kill Clifford Roy takes over the spacecraft and heads out to find and bring his Dad home. The beating heart of this film is the journey and in many ways the story is similar to Apocalypse Now (1979), indeed there are quite a few aspects that will remind you of that film if you are familiar enough with it. But ultimately this is a film that tries to highlight the importance of humanity and that the focus should be on our inner selves rather than always searching beyond. To that extent it's a psychological film with some interesting action set pieces thrown into the journey all of which play a relevance once you've grasped the film's ideas. All in all this is a visually spectacular and enthralling science fiction film with some interesting things to say and it's worth checking out and especially if you weren't convinced the first time you saw it.

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The Abyss

Fantastic Adventure Film

(Edit) 03/05/2021

This is James Cameron's most underrated film probably because it faired poorly at the box office but it is an absolutely fantastic adventure film and one of the very best set almost entirely at the bottom of the ocean. It has that claustrophobic atmosphere and tense threat that being stuck on the seabed creates. If you've never seen this then it's one to seek out because it has a great story that mixes disaster, action, a bit of romance and science fiction and it's a great example of Cameron's storytelling expertise. Starring Ed Harris as Bud Brigman who runs a deep sea drilling rig with a small crew. It can manoeuvre along the seabed in search of mineral deposits. When a US nuclear submarine mysteriously crashes on the edge of a deep trench Bud and his crew are recruited to assist in a rescue mission, aided by a Navy Seal team led by Coffey (Michael Biehn) and joined by Bud's estranged wife and designer of the rig, Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). But when a severe hurricane leaves the rig damaged and stranded they have to figure out how to get back to the surface and Coffey starts to show signs of psychosis. To add to their problems they keep seeing strange lights coming from the depths of the abyss on which they are teetering. Cameron pioneered stunning new CGi effects for this film which he later improved upon for Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), and he created some beautiful imagery and the film is a real visual delight and exciting stuff. In 1992 Cameron reinserted some key scenes, removed for the theatrical release, in a 'Special Edition' and this is the version to watch. It has, in particular, a major scene at the end which gives the entire narrative a sense of meaning. A great adventure film that is full of surprises and well worth checking out.

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To Sir, with Love

Great British 60s Social Drama

(Edit) 01/05/2021

Surprisingly a huge hit in the US no doubt due to the draw of Sidney Poitier who stars as Mark Thackeray. He's a newly qualified engineer but unable to find a job in his chosen career he takes up a position as a teacher in a rundown East End school inhabited by unruly and under privileged teenagers. Finding it impossible to engage his class in the normal subjects he comes up with a bold plan of treating them as adults and teaching them life skills. Considered a quite risqué film at the time of its release it may seem quite dated today with its relatively tame swearing and themes of sexual awakening. It is however a wonderful film about the eroding state of education in Britain and the loss of opportunities for young people. The film tries to highlight the young persons's love of pop music, and even pop star Lulu has a role and sings the title song. But this is Poitier's film showcasing his ability. He plays a convincing London teacher here and when you consider his other big roles he is such a capable and intriguing actor and one to really admire. Interestingly, whilst there are some minor approaches to racism, obviously widespread in 60s Britain, it's hardly touched upon in the film. There's a host of familiar actors including Judy Gleeson, Suzy Kendall and a first film role for Patricia Routledge. A key British film of the 1960s and worth seeking out if you've never seen it.

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