Film Reviews by GI

Welcome to GI's film reviews page. GI has written 1233 reviews and rated 1821 films.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of The World

Great Historical Adventure Film

(Edit) 08/01/2024

A stirring and authentic looking historical adventure film adapted from a popular series of novels and the unwieldy title highlights the intention for this to be the first in a series. Low box office despite critical acclaim meant any further films were abandoned. That's a shame because this is great stuff. Taking place during the Napoleonic wars it's set aboard a modest British naval frigate that is searching the Atlantic Ocean along the South American coast for a French warship. Led by Captain Aubrey (Russell Crowe) this has gritty, fast paced battle scenes and recreates the harshness of life aboard a military vessel having to navigate storms and rough seas while hunting for a bigger and dangerous enemy. The French are kept mostly anonymous here with just glimpses of their ship as the cat and mouse game of hunting each other goes on. There's a mid-film interlude at the Galapagos Islands where the ship's surgeon (Paul Bettany) can indulge his passion for natural history. This does slow the film down somewhat but this can be forgiven for the attention to detail that director Peter Weir gives to the representation of life aboard including the ever present danger of accidents, weather and emery action. This is a great action adventure story and Crowe is superb as the fair but determined skipper. If you've never seen this then its worth your time.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Rebel Moon: Part One: A Child of Fire

Unoriginal Star Wars Rip Off

(Edit) 03/01/2024

This is a self indulgent and overcooked sci-fi that doesn't have an original bone in its body. Director Zack Snyder apparently conceived this a few years ago as a Star Wars film but that never got off the ground and so he's made it anyway and basically made a Star Wars rip off. Whole scenes seem to be copycats and he's not left it there. There's all manner of style and narrative copies of other films that are all far, far better than this (Dune, The Magnificent Seven) and even though some of the visuals are impressive and the fight sequences, despite too much grimacing slow motion scenes of people clobbering one another, are reasonable, it ends up seeming pointless and underwhelming as well as too long and then there's a Part 2 on the way.....Jeez. Overall this story of a tyrannical empire crushing all resistance in the galaxy, while wearing military clothing circa 1930s Germany, and having to hunt down a small band of rebels out to protect a small farming community on a remote moon is hackneyed beyond belief. It's quite violent so kids shouldn't really be watching this but I can't see it being remembered by anyone who does sit through it.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Last Train to Christmas

Surprisingly Enjoyable

(Edit) 06/01/2024

Although this is not very 'Christmassy' it does cleverly use the season to open the door to some magic and allow the main character to achieve redemption similarly to Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol where he can sort of travel through different realities to find some moral happiness. Michael Sheen is fantastic here and funny too (especially with the various daft hairstyles he carries off with aplomb) as Nottingham based club owning entrepreneur Tony Towers. Tony is a shallow, fame loving man who is on a train from London to Nottingham going to a Christmas family reunion. It's 1985 and Tony is joined by his much younger fiancée (Nathalie Emmanuel) and his less successful brother, Roger (Cary Elwes). Then Tony finds that when he moves into different carriages of the train he is either in the future or in his past where he sees how his life decisions affect him and his family. Director Julian Kemp manages this concept so well even allowing for the viewer to be as confused as Tony but once we grasp what Tony is experiencing the film holds the attention and gives the audience the chance to root for Tony, a shallow man who can be saved by this experience. And of course it's an experience that we all wish we could have, the chance to go back and change our mistakes and/or see how things will turn out in the future. This is a film that really works, it's not a schmaltzy Christmas film but a humorous look at life with a good message.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Master Gardener

Unoriginal Thriller

(Edit) 06/01/2024

This film sits very squarely in writer/director Paul Schrader's oeuvre, indeed one might argue it's a rehash of themes and characters he's done before. The isolated male with a dark past is a tired story unless it has some injection of originality. Sadly that doesn't occur here and Joel Edgerton's Narvel is obviously one of these hackneyed characters from the very outset. He's a skilled and dedicated gardener on a large estate owned by the stern Miss Haverhill (Sigourney Weaver) with whom he enjoys other 'benefits'! When she brings her wayward niece, Maya, onto the estate to be apprenticed to Narvel events open up revealing Narvel's dark and mysterious past. Overall the various relationships are rather cold, unexplained and stilted and thus become quite unbelievable and we are never given any idea why Narvel is so good and dedicated to gardening despite flashbacks to explain his past. When the narrative threatens to spill over into violence it lets the side down and ends up as a damp squib. A tired, unoriginally themed film that fails to go anywhere interesting.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Ferrari

Interesting, Stylish Drama

(Edit) 07/01/2024

No one quite stages action as stylishly and superbly as Michael Mann. The moments in this film are horrifically shocking and elicited a gasp from me as the suddenness and the realistic depiction of two race crashes occurred. Unlike Mann's crime films this fits into his biopic oeuvre that has included The Insider (1999) and Ali (2001) and consequently there is an element of needing to have some interest in the subject. Adam Driver completely absorbs the title role of Enzio Ferrari, the former race driver, famed car manufacturer and troubled businessman. Set in 1957 and Ferrari's passion for racing has pushed his business close to bankruptcy and he needs to lure investors and sell more production cars to rich clients. Unfortunately his embittered wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz), controls the assets and she is all spite and anger over Ferrari's womanising complicated even more when she discovers he has a hidden family with Lina (Sharlene Woodley - rather underused in a part with little to do). Ferrari's plan is to win a gruelling 1000 mile road race through Italy and he enters five cars. This race has some tragic consequences. As a drama there are times this film may well test patience and you can feel this is a passion piece for Mann. It's a film much focused on a complicated, selfish man who can casually justify death, his betrayal of his wife and the hiding of a son. Driver and Cruz are excellent throughout and for the most part the film is interesting and has Mann's unique use of facial close ups as well as his wide shots of horror and violence. The race scenes are visceral, gritty and exciting and when the horror comes it hits you like a hammer. Overall, this is a master filmmaker at work so its a must see, arguably not his best but certainly an award contender in many areas.

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Mask

Moving True Story Drama

(Edit) 02/01/2024

Influenced by the story of John Merrick and the film The Elephant Man (1980) this is also based on a real story of a young man with a huge facial deformity and who is judged on his appearance but gradually wins people over by his gentle and supportive nature and his high intelligence. Rocky Dennis (Eric Stoltz in a career best performance) has 'Lionitis', a rare disfiguring disease which affects the bones in his head and face. Raised by his mother, Rusty, he has a far from normal family life as well. Rusty is a feisty, formidable woman and part of a biker gang. She uses heroin and opens her house to the bikers who have become Rusty's surrogate family. This maybe a film about Rocky but the film is certainly dominated by Cher's performance as Rusty. She is quite remarkable here and this is arguably her finest role especially as she was quite inexperienced as an actor. Sam Elliott (always superb) plays her lover, Gar, also a father figure to Rocky. Elliott seems a natural to play a biker gang leader and I love how he brings stability to their lives even though you sense he is always on the edge of violence. When we first meet Gar he hugs Rocky and gives him a butterfly knife. Brilliant! But it's Rocky, the deformed teenager with a terminal disease, who tries to stabilise his mother's wayward life and this gives the film a neat subversiveness to the family melodrama scenario. Where the film loses it's way a little is in Rocky's attempt at a relationship with a blind girl (a first big role for Laura Dern). This slips the film in a maudlin sentimentality and a predictability that doesn't fit well. That aside this is a wonderful film and with a restored soundtrack by Bruce Springsteen it's newly available on DVD & BluRay. If you've never seen this then I highly recommend it.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Infinity Pool

Flawed Body Horror

(Edit) 02/01/2024

This is a shockingly graphic body horror film with boundary pushing sex scenes and some eye watering gore. There is something rather unfulfilling about it though and once it's over you're left with a vague feeling of being unsatisfied and the shock elements don't make up for it. Alexander Skarsgård, once again stepping away from his hunky man persona, plays James who along with his wife Em, (Cleopatra Coleman) are taking a holiday on a plush island resort on a fictitious island. The guests are restricted to staying on the resort but fellow guests, the enigmatic and beautiful Gabi (Mia Goth) and Alban (Jalil Lespert), befriend the couple and entice them to go to a remote beach. On the way back a drunken James runs over and kills a local leading to his arrest. Draconian local laws stipulate the punishment for his crime is death but James is offered an alternative and his decision pushes him into a surreal world of hedonistic violence and depraved sex. Director Brandon Cronenberg seems to be taking up his father's mantle again here with his emphasis on body horror that in this narrative seems linked to hallucingenic drug abuse but thematically it's some sort of treatise on entitlement. James is lured into the strange world far too readily as if the director wants to hurriedly get to the shocks without really focusing on the themes he's attempting to expose. Mia Goth is once again a stand out here, she is beautiful, mysterious and dominates the film but overall this is not an enjoyable film although fans of Cronenberg senior will relish his son continuing his legacy.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Disappointing Prequel to LOTR

(Edit) 01/01/2024

I revisit this film occasionally in the hope that I'll come to like it. It seems to me to be a film that ought to be something special and yet it lacks that sense of wonder and amazement that director Peter Jackson managed so brilliantly with his Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Perhaps the originality of those films just cannot be replicated now that the world of Middle-earth has been revealed although I think it's that the sense of realism that was created in the fantasy world of LOTR has somehow not been successfully recreated in The Hobbit series. It is also incredible that Jackson has managed to eek out a trilogy of films from a very slim children's novel and in doing so he has attempted to incorporate the book's child focused narrative and sense of fun with the dark atmosphere and horror aspects of the LOTR book and narrative, and this doesn't work effectively. On the positive side there are flashes of the dark fantasy film that fans hoped for and Martin Freeman is simply superb as the trilogy's titular hero, Bilbo Baggins who is forced into an adventure with a group of disaffected dwarves to reclaim their homeland now occupied by a fearsome dragon whom we shall only glimpse in this first film. This is an accomplished film with some wonderful visual creations that fans will tolerate because of the brilliance of the LOTR series but it's ultimately a disappointment and one only wonders what Guillermo del Toro who was originally to direct this, would have done with it.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Mary Poppins

Watch Now - It's Still Wonderfully Magic

(Edit) 30/12/2023

Surely this is Walt Disney's greatest achievement. It's a sheer delight even after many viewings from childhood to adulthood. When you apply a critical eye to the film it reveals even more surprises not least that there is an underlining darkness and mystery to the landscape of the film. It's a pure cinematic vision of early twentieth century London but within the dark, gloom laden and smokey streets lies the magic that is at the heart of the story. Disney did add a lightness where the books on which this is based are much darker including the character of Mary Poppins, who is far colder and slightly menacing. But he was right to do so. This is after all a family film with some magical lessons for all ages. From the simple idea that laughter is a great healer to themes of family, childhood, and the cold nature of materialism. The kite is the emblem of the family here, broken, then mended and able to stretch out to discover endless happiness. Julie Andrews is superb in the title role, a multi-talented actor with a beautiful voice. Dick Van Dyke is also a multi talented performer and whilst, over the years he's been derided for his mock cockney accent, he gives the film an energy and a sense of comedy. Besides that accent just adds to the charm, this is not meant to be a historical drama. David Tomlinson as the father, Mr Banks, is also exemplary and often forgotten when this film is discussed but he's actually the character who is most redeemed by the film's conclusion. This is a remarkable piece of family entertainment and is Disney's biggest Oscar winner to date (it won 5) and it's always worth sitting round on a rainy afternoon with the children and watching it. If they haven't seen this then give them a treat.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Sloppy Version of Classic Gothic Story

(Edit) 27/12/2023

Director and star Kenneth Branagh has attempted to make a version of this famous gothic story as close to the novel as possible and get away from the Hollywood 'monster' image with bolts in the neck, high forehead etc etc. That's to be applauded yet despite a good start this is a clumsy film, poorly edited and with a hurried feel that makes it cheap and uninteresting. Characters dive through emotional swings so fast it's hard to keep up and Branagh seems obsessed with lots of shots of his sweaty torso and adds a pointless bodice ripping sex scene apparently so he can snog his co star, Helena Bonham Carter. Robert De Niro as the creature was no doubt a celebrated piece of casting but the resulting film leaves one wondering what attracted him to the role because the nuances of the character seem to be lost and it's difficult to interpret what we, the viewer, is meant to be feeling about him. Even the iconic scenes of the creatures birth are rapid and unfulfilling. Branagh has an eye for recreating the 18th century and some scenes are well constructed but the film doesn't flow at all well. The story is well known and here eager young intellectual Victor Frankenstein, the son of a renowned doctor (Ian Holm), is distraught by the death of his mother (Cherie Lunghi), and becomes obsessed with cheating death. At university he cobbles together huge amounts of equipment, steals body parts including the brain of his mentor (John Cleese) and stitches together a body which he manages to reanimate, immediately and I mean immediately, rejects it and flees. Then pretending none of this happened he pops off home to marry his beloved but of course said ungrateful and very ugly creature comes after him for some revenge. One is left with a big disappointment and the thought of what producer Francis Ford Coppola would have made of this story in the director's chair. What we have here is a mess I'm afraid

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

The Martian

Visually Impressive Space Adventure

(Edit) 26/12/2023

The Martian is a refreshingly uplifting science fiction survival narrative from director Ridley Scott with his usual visual flair making the film very watchable. Essentially Robinson Crusoe in space it's the story of a manned mission to Mars commanded by Jessica Chastain, which has to depart urgently when a massive violent storm hits their encampment. Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) gets struck by flying debris and is presumed dead. But he survives and is then stranded on Mars with meagre supplies and has to use his wits and ingenuity to survive. Meanwhile, once NASA discovers he's still alive a plan to rescue him has to be devised before he starves to death. Scott manages to stretch out this piece of hokum rather well considering how thin the story actually is and Damon is very funny considering his monologues to his computer are the means the story gets told to us the viewers. The final rescue is exciting and whilst there's a lot of acting talent on offer (Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Kate Mara et al)who all add to the epic feel of the film and add great drama as mistakes and accidents blight the efforts to rescue the stranded astronaut. Wonderfful effects in this very good space adventure. Enjoyable, spectacular and visually impressive.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Fast and Furious

Silly Actioner But Better Than The First 2.

(Edit) 24/12/2023

A direct sequel to 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and so chronologically the third in the series although it's actually the fourth film made. It's more of the same as the 2001 original and its sequel the 2003 film but with added panache and the return of Vin Diesel. The chase sequences and stunts are bigger and better and so from a viewing perspective this is a far better film than the first two. Story wise it's all the same ol' stuff with muscle, boobs, loud music, shooting and a lot of testosterone in abundance and all influenced by the gaming culture and so appeals to a certain demographic (interestingly the warning at the end to not try and replicate the driving stunts says it all!) Diesel's Dom comes out of hiding when his beloved girlfriend (Michelle Rodriguez) gets killed to find out who is responsible and finds he has to join up with his old nemesis, Brian (Paul Walker) who is once again working undercover with the FBI. It's all brash action, moody looks and totally silly although some of the chases are really well executed. Gil Gadot has a small support role. Better than the first two but.......

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Saltburn

Interesting Mystery Drama

(Edit) 23/12/2023

With subtle dark comedy touches this mystery drama set in 2006 but played like it's the 1930s is highly watchable and yet ultimately leaves you wishing it had something more to it. There will be the obvious links to Brideshead Revisited and similar such dramas and the denouement is pretty predictable although played out with some attempt at originality. Barry Keoghan takes the lead role here (to me he seemed a little too old for the part) as Oliver, a Liverpudlian lad who has obtained a scholarship to Oxford where he is a fish out of water and largely ignored by the other students. He becomes transfixed by Felix (Jacob Elordi), a rather beautiful aristocratic student, who is a magnet to others especially girls. Felix befriends Oliver much to the surprise and consternation of the fellow students and feeling sorry for Oliver invites him to spend the summer at the family's very large estate called Saltburn. Oliver arrives and there we meet the bizarre family of father (Richard E. Grant), mother and ex model (Rosamund Pike), Oliver's beautiful sister (Alison Oliver) and family friend (Carey Mulligan). Oliver gradually inveigles his way into the affections of the family but to what end? There's certainly some very bizarre events that take place as the various characters attract and mix together and Oliver's intentions are subtle and mysterious. The film does feel very drawn out at times and there are plot holes that you have to fill yourself yet the cast are all impeccable in particular Pike and Grant. Overall this is interesting, at times clever with a solemnity and seriousness that combines with the dark comedic moments some of which might make you cringe but it also feels like a film a little uncertain of itself.

2 out of 3 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Maestro

Detailed and Passionate Biopic

(Edit) 23/12/2023

Bradley Cooper directs and stars in this biopic of the great American conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein. Utilising a mix of black and white and colour and changing screen ratios this is clearly a passion piece with Cooper fully inhabiting the role with excellent prosthetics. The narrative focuses on his complex relationship with his wife, Felicia (Carey Mulligan), a Costa Rican actress. This is clearly a heartfelt and slightly exhausting film, it certainly tested my patience on a few occasions, with its long conversation scenes and characters that drift in and out of the story. Cooper captures Bernstein's heady obsession with his art and ultimately the film is about sacrifice for art's sake unflinchingly dealing with Bernstein's dalliances with young men. A candid depiction of a great artist in a production that is vast, almost epic, but you have to be invested in wanting to know about the subject. The two leads are excellent but the film just indulges itself a little too much for my taste.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

Write your review

100 characters remaining
4000 characters remaining

See our review guidelines and terms.

Airplane!

Silly, Adult and Downright Hilarious

(Edit) 20/12/2023

Silly, anarchic and zany this American comedy holds up due to the relentless amount of visual and script jokes that run through the entire film even though some are dated and many require a passing knowledge of Hollywood as this is a parody of cinema and in particular the 1957 film Zero Hour!, which I challenge anyone who knows Airplane! to watch without laughing. Basically the story is a commercial airliner has an onboard emergency when the passengers and crew all get food poisoning and a former fighter pilot has to land it. Into that simple disaster film scenario the writers and directors weave a never ending pastiche of adult, risqué and borderline offensive comedy. It is a riot and has many now famous quotable lines and the presence of well known and very serious actors like Peter Graves, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen essentially undermining their own screen personas led to a film that is an absolute riot. This is one of those American comedies that it's always worth turning to when you need cheering up as it's just hilarious from start to finish.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.
1234567891083