Film Reviews by ER

Welcome to ER's film reviews page. ER has written 56 reviews and rated 209 films.

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

This made Uwe Boll's IN THE NAME OF THE KING look like Goodfellas.

(Edit) 02/07/2020

Charmless, cgi soup, an I doubt anybody actually bothered to read the story of King Arthur. This is the worst Guy Ritchie film by a long-chalk. Good actors in it for the pay check deliver wooden performances, spout terrible lines and look bored. But not as bored as I was. This made Uwe Boll's In The Name of the King look awesome and that's saying something. Awful in every department. Avoid, please.

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Attack of the Herbals

Putting the TEA back into totally crap

(Edit) 12/06/2020

I’ve seen f88k awful films from Wales, Ireland, and England (mainly Essex) but Scotland (up until now) have come out ahead. Somehow Attack of the Herbals has escaped my attention and I like to watch British and Irish movies… This sorry horror-comedy is unfunny, badly acted and fairly unimaginative.

A crate of Nazi tea washes up in a crate at a remote Scottish village decades later. It stayed waterproof! When some dopey morons decide to sell the tea to the locals in a get rich quick scheme to save the post office from an evil property developer, little did they know that after drinking it the villagers would turn into zzzzzombies.

This is retrograde sixth form project made by people who thought that Shaun of the Dead would be a doddle to remake. The amateur cast struggle and literally die on camera, struggling with the shoddy script and plodding plot, which witholds the carnage for a very long, very unfunny 60 minutes or so. The only thing worse than a boring horror, is a boring and unfunny horror-comedy. This was a waste of time.

This registers some point because the sound, the camera work, the special effects worked, editing as they should. But this was far from entertaining.

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Sometimes Always Never

Quirky and slight

(Edit) 28/05/2020

this everso slight comedy has a melancholy core - it's a shame that the production design and the tone are wildly uneven. The drama of a missing son and brother is actually quite potent and the storyline very inventive. yet the decision to focus on the comedy aspect and for the makers to hedge their bets at making this an English answer to Wes Anderson derails many of its good intentions. Shame as overall, I liked it. It's very funny if you can ignore the slighty ropey Scouse accents all over the place?

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Le Secret

Candyman's Tony Todd strange detour into French drama

(Edit) 20/05/2020

This a curio for fans of Horror film actor, Tony Todd, who broke stereotypes to appear in the French family drama. His role amounts to little except for the object of desire for a troubled mother of a two-year-old who is going through a rocky patch with her husband. Troubled by her lack of life options when her husband suggests having a second child, Marie takes a lover, a strange American who is house-sitting for his friend. The drama plods along at a steady pace and this is a standard Parisian set character drama that doesn't really distinguish itself from the pack except for the very strange casting of Tony Todd. He's fairly good but his role is thin as his Bill West isn't all that interested in talking about his life. I wonder how he got the job - it's certainly a wild card, and it wouldn't appeal to 95% of his fanbase.

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Beyond

Way Beyond average - something a little different.

(Edit) 10/05/2020

Beyond is an unsual ‘alien invasion’ movie that shuns it’s low-budget trappings to deliver an interesting watch. Set in Glasgow and the surrounding countryside, Beyond’s plot is constructed from several parallel timelines: the weeks surrounding the discovery of an asteroid on a possible collision course with earth, the last few days before impact and a present day timeline that reveals that aliens have colonised Earth and have killed most of the population. The story of angry couple Cole (RICHARD J DANUM – ARCADIA) and Maya (GILLIAN MCGREGOR) is revealed in a seemingly random fashion over the course of the film’s running time, as we begin to learn how all three timelines connect. In the present day Cole and Maya are on the run from the aliens and are hiding out in houses in the countryside. At some stage they lost a their baby daughter. In an earlier timeline Cole prevents an armed robbery in a convenience store but doesn’t do enough to stop the store attendant, Michael (PAUL BRANNIGAN – THE ANGEL’S SHARE) from being shot and hospitalised. When Cole attends the hospital in the last days before the meteor hits Earth to be at his daughter’s birth he runs into a recovering Michael again and he seems connected to the future as well as the past. In the present day, Cole and May encounter fellow survivor Keith (KRISTIAN HART) who may have discovered a way to defeat the aliens. Where will all this lead?

Beyond has been inspired by the current wave of character driven TV series and it’s heartening to see a thoughtful approach to a seemingly generic ‘end of the world’ movie. With an extended running time the plot revelations may have been more convincing and it’s rushed ending seems to be the result of a compromise. A more drawn out conclusion could have worked even better – but quality sci-fis on this kind of budget are so few and far between beggars can’t be choosers. It’s well-plotted and well acted by a very small cast. Paul Brannigan excels in a mysterious supporting role. To begin with his part seems to be a throwaway and you wonder why it’s attracted such a talented young actor, then you realise he’s got the plum role. Whilst the Danum and McGregor appear in virtually every scene, Beyond is Brannigan’s to steal. To say which film Beyond borrows a plot twist from is to let the air out of it and won’t do your enjoyment levels any good. Part of the films success comes from trying to fathom out where it’s all leading to. Slightly poncey set-ups are explained away when certain characters’ circumstances come to light.

The special effects are very good and the alien spacecrafts are rendered brilliantly. On a high-res TV they look amazing. Blown up on a cinema screen who knows, this was a DVD premiere in the UK. The soundtrack is a memorable collection of catchy electronic pulses and clicks and they essentially become a centre piece when the films story strands are tied together at the end.

7 out of 10 – A good attempt at presenting something fresh in an overcrowded genre. It works well as a dramatic puzzle piece and is bolstered by strong performances from it’s largely unknown cast and a memorable synth soundtrack. An interesting plot and great visuals will also keep you engaged. Way ‘beyond’ average.

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Beats

BEATS WORKING

(Edit) 04/05/2020

This got fantastic reviews when it was released on the cinema, and although this was an improvement on Dublin Oldskool and Weekender, it still didn't nail the zeitgeist for me. The characters weren't 'real' enough to grab me. However, the rave scenes were awesome and the big tunes they used were onpoint (from a few years earlier in some cases) - the trips nicely visualised. This is not the quintessential British dance party film we were promised though. Human Traffic (although very dated) is the closest to getting it right through my own experience, but I can't watch it now without cringing and dying of embarrassment. Not bad, but not the game changer the broadsheets and film style councils claimed it was (imo)....

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Sonatine

10 out of 10

(Edit) 22/04/2020

This is the best gangster film I've ever seen. Others like The Long Good Friday, Goodfellas and Sexy Beast come close but this is top dog as it is a true original. A Yakuza gang get sent down to Okinawa to squash a seemingly insignificant beef - instead it's a power move to squeeze out overachieving crime lord, Murakawa played by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano also wrote and directed this and it was his breakout film in Europe. Yes, it's the same Takeshi fromTakeshi's Castle. The Japanese couldn't take this guy seriously as a gangster - imagine Chris Tarrant playing making the equivalent of Goodfellas? Anyway, Sonatine is excellent because it's bursts of violence are quick, scary and creatively shot. The climatic gunfight is totally original... Strangely enough,humour has a place too as the gangsters while away their downtime playing frisbee and Russian roulette the beach...

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I'm Not There

Elusive matter that's too impressionistic to hit the emotional beats

(Edit) 15/04/2020

Wearing it's artistic flourishes on its face, this is a vague flurry of interesting ideas yet it fails to get to the heart of the matter. And the job at hand is to give us a portrait of Bob Dylan. This gives us six played by six different actors with playing six different Bob Dylans (with a different name each). The storylines are scattered in to the blend in a cohesive order - sometimes a fractured narrative can work really well here, but sadly Todd Haynes' I'm Not There holds us at arm's length. Its a very passive experience and ultimately unenlightening. I'm not much of a Dylan fan but I do like most of Todd Haynes' films, so was saddened to find one I haven't enjoyed at all. I was bored, baffled, lost and only got the smallest glimmers of wonder from it. Well-made, a bold experiment but a misstep for me. Sorry.

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Scarborough

Superb character drama from the UK

(Edit) 13/04/2020

Interesting if slightly flawed drama about a quartet of lovers who converge on a seaside hotel in the titular town. What starts out as a mirrored narrative, eventually diverges into something far less gimmicky. Once the awkward framing contrivances are abandoned and the plot begins to breathe, this story slowly begins to work its magic. Once you realise what is happening, as the clues begin to add up, this is a rewarding little film about people who's love is in very short supply, and those that are doomed to make the same mistakes over and over. Great performances from the central quartet help to paper over the early rocky patches.

Recommended for those that like films about people.

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The Curse of Halloween Jack

Abandon all hope, ye who rent this DVD

(Edit) 13/04/2020

Andrew Jones has directed a ton of films - they were steadily improving up until the release of Cabin 28. Ever since quality control has been in free fall and they've hit rock bottom with the seriously inept shambles of a slasher flick. At 78 minutes long including bookending credit crawls, Halloween Jack 2 felt longer than AN ELEPHANT SITTING STILL... bad props,no sfx, awful acting, dog poo script, you will pray for a quick, painless death because this is the definition of sufferance.

0.25 out of 10.

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Arcadia

what is lost is so hard to get back

(Edit) 03/04/2020

This impressionistic collage of archive film of rural Britain is done in the spirit of freeform documentaries like Baraka, Koyaanisqatsi, Aquerela and Apollo 11. The facts are here for you to divine quite clearly that we have lost touch with the past and this documentary goes a small way to show us what it is we've lost (and maybe what we've gained) today. It's interesting to see, educational as well a moving me on a deeper level. The music, editing, occasional prose all building to a succinct and strange celebration of our rural heritage. Recommended for those who aren't expecting the History Channel / Fox News style documentary-style. Let it take you on a journey.

The extras are good too, which shows much of the included archive footage uncut. However, be warned one of the clips show the very slow death of a sheep as it's being butchered in real time by a garrulous Dartmoor farmer... A bit much for a soppy date like me.

Recommended.

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The Hunger

unique vampire flick

(Edit) 03/04/2020

I was really moved by this potent vampire movie by the late director Tony Scott. A strange melancholy permeats the film as unlike other vampire films this deals predominantly with immortality, eternal youth and the passage of time as well as bunch of blood letting and sex. Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie and Susan Sarandon star and even though its firmly defined by its 1980s stylings, it still weaves its magic. I'd never seen it before and was very impressed.

It's high on style, which dates it. But I didn't mind on this occasion. The ending is a bit muddled too - reading its history it seems the producers fiddled with the final cut.

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Little Monsters

Better than Zombieland 2

(Edit) 29/03/2020

For those that were waiting for Zombieland 2 and were then disappointed at how flat and unfunny it was, Little Monsters may just cheer you up. This very sweary Australian comedy horror is too late in the cycle to offer much that's original beyond its USP - kindergarten kids v zombies, but it is very funny at times. Starring Americans Lupita Nyong-O and Josh Gad amongst a cast of lesser spotted Aussies, this holds back on the splatter for the first 40 mins or so but once it gets going its a fast moving hoot with fun characters.

Josh Gad has the plum role as a children's entertainment Mr McGiggle, who turns out to be a self-serving monster when the sh*t hits the fans. The central couple are good value even if the guy is a little hard to warm to at first. An unexpected hit but you'll only watch it once. It's no classic.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Johnny Mad Dog

A cinematic drive to hell

(Edit) 27/03/2020

Set during the 2003 fall of Monrovia, Liberia, this film follows a unit of child soldiers led by Johnny Mad Dog. A 14 year old sgt of a unit of boys and girls age 10-15, they go on a murderous rampage to topple the city's soldiers and do their part in a coup to overthrow the president. It also follows a parallel storyline of a young girl, Laokole, who is trying to get her father and younger brother to safety.

From the very first scenes, it's clear this is not the Hollywood version seen briefly in Blood Diamond, Johnny Mad Dog offers no quarter to the film tourist - this is visceral, frightening and utterly watchable.

Superb & scary.

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Our Kind of Traitor

Flat spy thriller

(Edit) 27/03/2020

After a promising start, nothing convinces in this flat thriller. Characters exist to serve a plot that just drives a well-furrowed path. If you like JOhn Le Carre, this is the weakest film adaptation for some time. The actors are asleep, the locations wasted (except for the Alps) and the characters seem to be very black and white in their ways - good and evil. Stellan Skarsgard's character would have benefitted from a bit more development, and the central couple are barely present. Only Damian Lewis distinguishes himself as a spy with a grudge and a personal reason to see his unsanctioned mission go to plan. Below average - stick with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or the TV adaptation of The Night Manager.

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