Film Reviews by GI

Welcome to GI's film reviews page. GI has written 1239 reviews and rated 1829 films.

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Frontiers

Nasty, Bloody and Violent Horror

(Edit) 04/12/2023

This is one for devoted horror fans only. A very gory, blood splattered film no doubt influenced by The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) where a group of cocky teenagers arrive at a remote hotel only to find it's run by an inbred group of Neo nazis with a taste for human flesh. There's plenty of corpses in various states of decay and dismemberment and some quite nasty violence along the predictable journey to the somewhat ridiculous climax. Wrapped around all this is an attempt to say something about extreme right wing politics as the events are set off by huge riots in Paris caused by the election of an ultra right wing government and then you have the Nazi baddies and a holocaust imagery from the use of language, costume and the milieu of an old mine that looks like a nazi extermination camp. It's a pretentious and silly film and as I say for fans of this sort of thing only.

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Go

Great Fun Adult Comedy

(Edit) 03/12/2023

Perfectly edited, funny script and some cracking acting makes this a rather endearing film that keeps you watching as it goes in some unexpected directions. This is one of those narratives that follows three different storylines centred around the same set of events. All three have laughs, shocks and weirdness that will have you intrigued and constantly smiling. Sarah Polley is a stand out here as the bored check-out girl, Ronna, in a rundown supermarket who needs cash and having been approached by two partially famous TV actors after some drugs she agrees to score some for them. This entails her going with her two friends (Katie Holmes & Nathan Bexton) to the home of drug dealer Todd (Timothy Olyphant) but the 'deal' sets off a chain of events that affects these three, the two actors who have a secret behind their need for drugs, and Ronna's cocky workmate Simon (Desmond Askew) who is on a lads weekend with his mates in Las Vegas. The three stories are great and link together to form an amusing and fun film with some adult themes. Worth seeking out if you've never seen this.

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A Good Person

Flawed But Entertaining Drama

(Edit) 02/12/2023

Despite the sheer implausibility of this story and the slightly over written characters this is an entertaining drama about redemption and offering a story of what happens when a good person does a bad thing. Florence Pugh as usual lifts the narrative and gives a great performance even when the story goes a little too far in what its trying to achieve. She plays Allison, a gifted, popular, beautiful young woman engaged and beloved by family and friends. A moment of carelessness results in her causing a car accident in which tragedy strikes and her life descends into a hellhole of grief and opioid addiction. Her path to recovery comes from a very unexpected person. Co starring Morgan Freeman this is a film that has some fierce critics mainly for the too good to be believable plot and characters and indeed some of their actions here test the bounds of credibility but by the end I found it too be a very watchable film that is quite satisfying.

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The Man Who Would Be King

A Great Adventure tale

(Edit) 30/11/2023

A fantastic, exciting adventure film from veteran director John Huston and starring real life friends Sean Connery and Michael Caine. It doesn't get any better than that. Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling and set in the 1880's this tells the tale of Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnahan, two ne'er do well former British soldiers who have remained in India after leaving the army to seek adventure and riches. They come up with a dangerous plan to travel north into the unmapped area of Kafiristan in search of treasure. After a tortuous journey they rally the local tribesmen into a rebel army and march on the holy palace where due to a bizarre incident Daniel is mistaken for the descendant of Alexander The Great and worshipped as a God. It's not long before this goes to his head and their deception starts to unravel. Caine and Connery are magnificent and the film is a rollicking good yarn aided by Christopher Plummer as Kipling. It's a super film and arguably one of the greatest of adventure films.

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

A Masterpiece - Film As Art

(Edit) 27/11/2023

A tremendously important film and John Ford's last masterpiece. A film about the dying of the old west, about equality, freedom of the press, of law and order and the passing of the old ways. James Stewart plays Senator Ransom Stoddard, who arrives unexpectedly in the small western town of Shinbone with his wife to attend the funeral of an old man that few in the town even knew existed. His arrival sparks the interest of the local newspaper editor who demands a story. The town is now a civilised one but thirty years earlier it was a lawless frontier town. Stoddard recounts the story from his arrival as a greenhorn lawyer, his relationship with the deceased man, Tom and his immediate run-ins with the sadistic gunfighter Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), a story that culminates in Valance's death and the legendary circumstances behind it. Shot in black & white at a time when westerns were being made in glorious technicolour and normally filmed using the huge vistas of the American West this was also mostly filmed on a sound stage. As a result this film was considered a minor work but it's brilliance has subsequently been recognised. And rightly so, this is a film that highlights the containment of the west as civilisation takes a firm grasp. It should really be Ford's swansong in that it effectively deconstructs the western mythologies he had spent a career making film about. John Wayne plays Tom, a true westerner who's role is to ignite the new west by his own destruction. It's a fine performance from Wayne, full of ambiguity and restrained anger - one of his best. The film also boasts the magnificent Edmond O'Brien in a scene stealing performance as a drunken journalist. This is one of the finest American films you could ever wish to see so if it's passed you by try and get a copy and enjoy this masterpiece. It deserves a modern audience.

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The Man Who Fell to Earth

One Of The Great SciFi Films of the 70s

(Edit) 26/11/2023

A rich, compelling and enigmatic science fiction film from director Nicolas Roeg. This is one of the great science fiction films of the 1970s and often underrated due to its complex structure and narrative. Perfectly cast, David Bowie is Thomas Jerome Newton an alien from a planet dying through drought. Having left his family behind Newton has travelled to Earth in order to take back precious water supplies. To do this he builds a multi-billion dollar corporation that he then attempts to use to build a spacecraft for the return home. He is thwarted by a shady organisation trying to protect the economy of the world from the dominance of Newton's company and it's power but also by his exposure to human vices especially alcohol and sex. The story unfolds through Newton's relationship with Mary-Lou (Candy Clark), a humble hotel valet who becomes his lover and introduces him to drink and debauchery. There's lots to observe in this film which, on first viewing, will baffle and confound, and I always advise first timers to just go with the film and not try to unravel it's sub-texts and meanings as many will remain a mystery. This is typical of Roeg and many of his films are complex and defy easy analysis. But The Man Who Fell To Earth is a powerful film with themes of corruption, human greed and vice. It has some quite extreme sex scenes for it's time and the big reveal of Newton's true form remains a quite horrific and unsettling scene. With Rip Torn as a scientist who works for Newton and begins to suspect what he really is and Buck Henry as the lawyer who helps him set up the corporation this is a great film. It won't be what you'd expect from a normal science fiction film but it will leave an impression.

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Funny Pages

Weird Comedy With Little Laughs

(Edit) 25/11/2023

Despite lots of accolades especially on the festival circuit I found this coming of age comedy to be excruciating and dull. It's dark, bizarre and mostly in bad taste to the extent that I couldn't find anything in it at all funny. Talented young graphic artist, Robert (Daniel Zolghadri) who longs to work in comic books shuns his comfortable life with his parents and heads off to squalor and an entourage of misfits on the idea that he has to suffer for his art! This brings him into contact with some truly disgusting people including the weird Miles (Matthew Maher) who he eventually takes home to his parents with disastrous results. As an indie comedy I'm sure this will have fans but it did nothing for me mainly because it dwelt far to hungrily on grotesques and nerds to the detriment of a decent story and script.

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2 Fast 2 Furious

Weak Sequel

(Edit) 25/11/2023

This sequel to the first in what became a huge franchise is really more of the same as the first without the charisma of Vin Diesel. Essentially the hero Brian (Paul Walker) now an ex cop and living in Florida is recruited to infiltrate the bad guy played by Cole Hauser's drug empire and bring him down. There's a beautiful woman in the form of Eva Mendes to lure him along although they never end up together. To be honest this stereotypical and average plot is really the medium to showcase lots of flash cars racing around. It's a film for the teenage gaming generation, nothing particularly memorable and even the stunts aren't that exciting.

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Man on Fire

Fantastic, Stylish Thriller

(Edit) 24/11/2023

A fantastic action thriller from director Tony Scott who is often overshadowed by his older brother Ridley but who has made some cracking movies. This has his trademark jump edits, fast action and a gritty realistic look. Denzel Washington plays Creasy, a washed up former soldier and CIA agent who is haunted by the killings he has perpetrated in the past and is now a borderline alcoholic. Unable to find a job or indeed a purpose in life he turns to his old comrade Rayburn (the always brilliant Christopher Walken) who secures him a job as a bodyguard to the young daughter of a rich businessman in Mexico City. Despite himself Creasy begins to bond with the charming girl played with sheer delight by Dakota Fanning. But when the girl is kidnapped Creasy is moved to determined vengeance on all involved. The plot has some great twists and turns, there is a disturbing satisfaction to be had in watching Creasy exact his revenge on the various people he discovers linked with the crime and whilst the film is violent it never slips into gratuitousness. The excellent cast is rounded out by Radha Mitchell, Giancarlo Giannini, Rachel Ticotin and a bizarrely cast Mickey Rourke as a lawyer. This is a clever film and well worth a re-evaluation if it's been awhile since you've seen it. As a small piece of trivia this is actually a part remake from a film of the same title made in 1987, starring Scott Glenn and set in Italy, also worth checking out if you've never seen it.

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Man of the West

Classic Western

(Edit) 23/11/2023

Rightly considered a classic western it is actually a bit of an oddity. Its narrative doesn't fully fit into the standard plots of westerns although it is clearly an 'outlaw' story. Gary Cooper, arguably much too old for the role, plays a reformed outlaw who happens to be on a train when his old bunch rob it and by a quirk of circumstances he finds himself stranded with a couple of other passengers, including romantic interest Julie London, and forced to rejoin the gang, led by psychopathic Lee J. Cobb, in order to survive. The dynamics between Cooper's former killer with a conscience and the clearly homicidal gang is what drives the narrative with London as the character he vows to protect. Indeed the sexual violence that is pervasive throughout was ahead of its time including a tense scene where London is forced to strip for the gang. There's a drawn out fist fight that is quite violent for its time and a climactic showdown in a desert ghost town. The film is marked by the tension that is ever present and never lets up as the characters all simmer on the edge of explosive violence and the director, Anthony Mann, never allows you to guess where and from whom its going to come. The seeds are here of the more grittier direction the genre took in the 1960s and beyond with directors such as Sam Peckinpah. Cooper is an interesting western anti-hero and much like his Will Kane in High Noon (1952) here he's a man of shades, some dark and some light, his gun skills are negligible and he lacks the dominance of, say, a John Wayne character. This makes for a more interesting, psychological edge to the narrative and a film of real interest as you never know if he's going to win or lose. This is a filmwell worth rediscovery and if you haven't seen it then it's worth your time.

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Man of Steel

Darker Superman Film And All the Better For It

(Edit) 22/11/2023

Director Zack Snyder's reboot of the Superman story is essentially a remake of Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980) but sheds the pure comic book styling and comedy of those two beloved favourites to concentrate on a darker origin story as a full on science fiction film. For the most part it works well with a washed tone look and gritty set pieces. The film opens with the story of the fate of Krypton enhancing the story from the 1978 film's opening and with Russell Crowe as the father. There's a nice complexity to Krypton and the conflicts within that world that introduce the film's big baddie General Zod played with his usual full on malice by Michael Shannon. The introduction of Superman takes awhile but we then get a very enjoyable back story told with flashbacks and get to see the future Superman as he hides amongst humans but occasionally is forced to use his powers to help out. Henry Cavil really nails the part and arguably he's the best screen Superman we've ever seen. What Snyder does well is bring to the fore that Superman is actually an alien, hiding out on Earth and the narrative grows into a basic alien invasion scenario once Zod and his gang show up. Amy Adams makes a plucky Lois Lane, much more professional and serious than the ditzy characterisations we've seen before. Kevin Costner and Diane Lane have supporting roles as Superman's adoptive father & mother and the cast is rounded out with Laurence Fishburne as Perry White. Don't look for Jimmy Olsen or Lex Luthor they're not involved here! The film takes a bit of a downturn towards the end when Snyder opts for huge CGI destructive battles that seem to go on and on and whilst he has Superman commit the ultimate anti-Superman act in a rare attempt to remain on the dark side, his decision to release this film in 3D meant he went for a final battle that is too much (In 1980 Superman used his wits to defeat Zod rather than brute force - a wiser choice ). So the ending aside this is a valiant attempt to bring the Superman story up to date and for the most part it's entertaining and exciting stuff. What a shame everything in the DC Universe since has been such awfulness!

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The Man from Laramie

Classic 50s Western

(Edit) 21/11/2023

The 1950s were the 'golden age' of the American western, many of the greatest westerns were made in this decade and this is one of them. Director Anthony Mann made five westerns with James Stewart and this is the last of them. It's epic in scale, shot in beautiful technicolor and blurs the edges of genre convention. Ostensibly this is a revenge narrative but this has film noir overtones and the good guy/bad guy tropes are blurred and conflicted. Stewart plays Will Lockhart who rides into town with a team of wagons and stores for delivery to Barbara (Cathy O'Donnell) the local store owner. But Lockhart has another darker agenda, he's searching for the man responsible for selling rifles to the Apaches who are still running amok and are an ever present threat to the area. Lockhart's brother was a trooper massacred by Apaches with these guns and he's determined to kill whoever is responsible. This is where Stewart exhibits the light and greys of his screen persona. He's all Mr Nice Guy one minute and then seething with repressed anger the next. Soon he comes up against the Waggoman family, run by rancher and patriarch Alec (Donald Crisp), Alec's psychopathic son Dave (Alex Nicol) and the ranch foreman Vic (Arthur Kennedy) and the seeds of Will's investigation begin to take root. There's a pointless love interest with Barbara thrown in and even though by today's standards it's tame there is, for the times, some hard violence including a deliberate wounding of Will and a scene where he is dragged by rope. The narrative follows the classic plot line often found in myth and legend and utilised many times in the western. An outside 'force' arrives to unsettle a community, causes disruption in unraveling evil and then restores the stars quo, riding off with little reward if any. Stewart's Lockhart is the outsider who disrupts the status quo and forces the bad guy out into the open causing everyone's lives to be disrupted but ultimately left for the better. He leaves with no personal gain, in this case not even the love interest. There's much to admire in this film and it's worthy of close viewing to appreciate just how sharp and interesting it is.

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The Flash

Another Same Ol' Superhero Film

(Edit) 21/11/2023

There's a few entertaining moments to enjoy in this overly long superhero/comicbook film from the DC universe. But it doesn't take the genre anywhere new or original and builds up to the inevitable giant punch up. Most of the in jokes come from the references to previous DC films and, if you're a certain age, you'll get all these 'jokes' easily enough but I'm not sure younger audiences will and that's who this film is mainly going to attract. Perhaps DC hopes it will encourage their older movies to get a new audience. What is shamelessly on offer here is an attempt to meet the MCU on level grounds but it doesn't work here. The DC heroes don't comfortably sit together like the MCU ones do and consequently Batman, Superman etc fare better in films on their own and not joined up in a big gang. Here the quite minor character The Flash (Ezra Miller), alias Barry Allen, in an attempt to prove his father innocent of murdering his mother uses his super speed powers to go back in time but manages to change the past and finds himself trapped in an alternate universe where he has no powers, there are no other superheroes yet and the Earth is threatened by an alien invasion. Miller gets to play two versions of himself, mostly in a comic 'Dumb & Dumber' type situation and essentially gurns his way through the film. DC fans will applaud that we get a variety of Batmans from the past, the main one being Michael Keaton, and as the plot unfolds there are glimpses of various Supermans too. The cameos are amusing and some of the movie jokes too (the one about Back To The Future especially so) but the film lacks any real dramatic depth and follows the usual tropes of this genre, devoid of new ideas it's another mildly watchable family film that is instantly forgettable. Come on DC you nailed it with The Dark Knight Trilogy, almost nailed it with Man of Steel but otherwise it's mostly been a damp squib.

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Fall

Entertaining Survival Thriller

(Edit) 19/11/2023

A survivalist thriller that gets away with the sheer implausibility and ridiculousness of the story because it's all done so very well. Shunning the expense of green screen and CGi director Scott Mann opts for in camera stunts and the edits work so well you'll struggle to see any of the joins. This makes for a really tense and compelling drama even though the ending feels a little anticlimactic but is made up for with a great plot twist. Best friends, Becky (Grace Caroline Curry) and Hunter (Virginia Gardner), are adrenaline junkies but after a mountaineering accident kills her husband Becky has fallen into grief stricken depression. Hunter arrives one day with a plan to snap her out of this and suggests they climb an abandoned 2000 feet high TV tower in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Becky reluctantly agrees and off they go without telling a soul where they are going or taking sufficient supplies, such as water, with them. Once you forgive this as necessary for the drama to work the film gets quickly into the suspense as once at the top the ladder gives way trapping them with apparent little hope of rescue (no phone signal you see). But like this sort of narrative often is their predicament is a puzzle for them to unravel and it's intriguing as to how they go about it. As I say there are a couple of good plot twists one of which is pretty obvious and the other a neat way of keeping the drama moving. Overall an entertaining film, not for those who don't like heights as some of the shots are very effective, but worth checking out.

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A Man for All Seasons

Historical Drama With Fantastic Cast

(Edit) 19/11/2023

An impeccable cast, a fantastic script based on a celebrated play and a story that invokes the nuances of politics and law as manipulated by power hungry wannabes makes this historical drama a fantastic film that deserves a resurgence. With Robert Shaw as Henry VIII (Oscar nominated), Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More (Best Actor Oscar), Orson Welles as Cardinal Wolsey, Leo McKern as Thomas Cromwell and other greats such as John Hurt, Vanessa Redgrave, Susannah York and Nigel Davenport this is a cast to die for! This is the story of Sir Thomas More who was Chancellor of England and a devout catholic who refused to take the oath of allegiance to Henry when he renounced Rome and set himself up as the Head of the Church of England in order to secure a divorce and marry Anne Boleyn. But More cleverly stands on his principles without incriminating himself. But a reluctance to go against the King's wishes by the court and betrayed by a liar he is nevertheless condemned. What's remarkable about this film is how it resonates with politics even to this day with the casual use of lies and innuendo, a lack of morality and sycophancy that drives the characters to get what they want. This is a wonderful film and one to really savour time and time again, it thoroughly deserved it's 6 Oscars, 7 BAFTAs and 4 Golden Globes. If you missed it then I urge you to seek it out.

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