Film Reviews by Sandy

Welcome to Sandy's film reviews page. Sandy has written 21 reviews and rated 85 films.

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The Kid Who Would Be King

Firmly aimed at children

(Edit) 10/06/2020

A film that stars children, for children. It reminds me very much of the efforts produced the Children's Film Foundation that were made up until the early 80's. The film is a rehash of Arthurian legends - Morgana Le Fay is returning to earth to wreak havok, and a bunch of children from 21st century London have to do battle to prevent her. As a children's film, there's no swearing and the sex and violence has been dialled down. It is not as bloody or violent as an episode of Dr Who.

As such, this is a film for kids who are under the age of 13. The actors are not terrible, the story is straightforward and simplistic and the special effects limited by the budget. Probably a good film to watch before reading the sword in the stone or taking the kids to visit a local castle. Children will love it, adults will find it rather pedestrian.

If you want to entertain the kids on a rainy summer afternoon, then this is what film is for - no more, no less.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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Zombieland: Double Tap

Entertaining enough spoof

(Edit) 31/03/2020

This film spoofs many zombie movies. The main event is the repartee between Columbus and Talahasse. It's fun, does not take itself seriously and doesn't try to be anything deeper than an entertaining movie that cannibalises skits from other zobie movies and regurgitates them for comic effect. The pacing does fall off somewhere in the middle, to cram in more guest starts, but the movie is not too long anyway. The 1st movie was sharper and funnier than this one - this one continues the story with the same characters. Light hearted froth - a movie for a Saturday night's entertainment. Don't expect metaphors on life that Romero tried to squeeze into his movies.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Tehran Taboo

Excellent

(Edit) 31/03/2020

This is a rotoscoped movie - a semi-animated feature. It tells the stories of three characters that intersect with each other at some point. There's a single mother who's been forced to work as a prostitute to look after her son, a bored married young woman who wants more than society is prepared to give her and a young musician who's trying to raise money to pay for a friend's medical treatment. All these characters are living in Tehran, and in this movie you get to see a seedy underbelly of corruption and double standards. People take risks or know people to get around the strict rules of the society. as such it is a film that reminds many that freedoms that are taken or granted are not universal and those that claim to be pure should be treated with some scepticism. The characters are treated sympathetically as they try to navigate a society that has strict social rules as well as strict laws. The film follows the characters as they stumble about and eventually their stories connect. A movie that is worth spending some time with, but probably not a movie if you want a light Saturday night's entertainment. The film gives you a perspective on a corner of the world - and is pretty strong.

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Juliet, Naked

No Juliet to get naked

(Edit) 28/03/2020

Paint by numbers English comedy set in an English seaside town.

Wry English comedy - someone says something sweary whilst folk try to cope with the fact that they are English, and not very good at living.

If you've seen one of these, you've seen them all.

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The Cloverfield Paradox

Overlaboured sci-fi concept movie

(Edit) 28/03/2020

Bunch of dull characters in a space ship use a McGuffin that goes wrong. Then one by one they start to get killed off as they try to work out what's gone wrong and come up with a solution. In the process the film overlabours the SF concept as if the audience is stupid, which means the film doesn't have a great pace and then rips of scenes from a whole bunch of much better movies. This means, if you've seen any of these films you know exactly what's going to happen next.

The pace is slow, the acting wooden and the shocks predictable.

Alien, Aliens, Hellraiser, Gravity and Event Horizon are much better than this bilge. Go watch them instead.

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Annihilation

ponderous SF

(Edit) 15/03/2020

A ponderous SF movie that blends elements of 2001, Aliens, Under the Skin, Arrival and J G Ballard at his weirdness.

A coastal strip of the USA has been hit by a strange shimmering light, that is gradually expanding. Nothing that goes in has come out to tell the tale, apart from one man who is seriously injured and appears to be infected. Natalie Portman joins a team of scientists who are sent in to explore the area - and a whole lot of weird is going on in there, which is not explained (you dear audience have to work it out yourself). But anyone who's seen one of these "team gets sent in to investigate alien weirdness" can almost predict what's going to happen next.

If you want more thrills, and haven't seen Aliens yet, then watch that on instead. If you are looking for something more chilling - and scientific - The Andromeda Strain is very good too. If you've seen both of these and enjoyed them , then this adds a little to the genre, but not an awful lot. Certainly by the time the second hour started I was starting to think, "Get on with it".

If you're new to SF, then this probably has more to offer, than someone who's seen lots of SF movies.

This does attempt metaphors for life and existence, but they are difficult to fathom and you may not care for them as the allusions are so slow and barely explained.

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The Party's Over

60's Beatnik Bohemia exploitation drama

(Edit) 11/03/2020

Melina - an American girl visiting Europe has disappeared. Carson -her fiancé - arrives from the USA to find her - coming across the teen gang of Chelsea beatniks led by Moise (played by Oliver Reed) that Melina was hanging out with at the time of her disappearance. The gang have drunken parties, hang out in jazz cellars and talk about rejecting convention. As Carson investigates the reasons for Melina's disappearance gets darker and the teen gang starts to crack - they're hiding the truth, but what is it?

Oliver Reed puts in a credible performance as an Angry Young Man outsider who has a gang that seems to follow his lead. Although he doesn't quite seem to have a destination in mind. He knows what he is against - and that's as far as his characterisation goes. The story itself barely hangs together - it gets past the teen exploitation movie concept- but only just - and the plot and resolution is missing a narrative drive. The secret once revealed is so awful, it is barely credible at all. I found myself getting frustrated at the slow narrative pace.

There is some excellent cinematography - the view of Chelsea Bridge being crossed by partied out Bohemian Beatniks for example and you get images of London as a jazz joint and some idea of the struggles between an oppressive, traditionalist culture and modern liberalism, but it is so jumbled up. The film wrestled with the censor of its day - but by today's standard it features what is about average for your standard prime-time soap opera. It's shock factor has dulled.

Worth a look, but

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Scream of Stone

Fascinating story

(Edit) 02/12/2019

A fascinating story, based upon true stories.

There's an icy peak that has not been climbed in Patagonia. An embittered Roccia, a driven mountaineer who climbs mountains because he has to, and a younger, more commercially minded sports free climber, set out to climb the peak. Their relationship deteriorates, with both wanting to be the first to reach the peak. It is a hazardous climb that has killed, or seriously injured people before.

This is a complex movie. Herzog lets the story develop out of the situation - so you have to watch carefully - as some themes or ideas are easily missed unless you are paying attention. The story compresses the real story of the Cero Torre climbs that played out through-out the 50's into the late 80's/early 90's. The landscape of Patagonia is as much a character in the piece with windswept lonely oddball characters wandering about. The film is tense and gripping, and a second watch reveals more detail.

There is excellent footage of free climbing and rock climbing from its day (these days they'd probably use drones and or wonderful digital cameras. Certainly to get footage like this would take a lot of effort, and would present some risks to the camera man, as well as the climber. A challenge that would probably be solved with drones, or with the new lenses that are available today. The footage that is there is an achievement that should be appreciated for the challenge it presented in its day.

Not a typical Saturday night's entertainment - there's no car chases or guns, but a man driven to distraction by a mountain.

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Swinging Safari

Scattergun attempt at comedy, that rarely hits the target

(Edit) 28/10/2019

Can't fault the actors in this. They know this is a comedy and do a decent job at trying to provide larger than life comic characters. The film is part memoir, part coming of age drama and comedy. It does have its funny moments - particularly the deathcheaters skits, but there are more misses in this than hits. The coming of age part seems tacked on, and slows the action down as we have to have some explanation - which probably isn't all that necessary It's difficult as I'm sure this is someone's first movie, and folk have got to learn somehow. There are moments of slapstick and comedy that will make you laugh, but there's funnier movies out there. If you want coming of age comedy, then Cemetary Junction is much better, as it Strictly Ballroom and Muriel's Wedding. That said, there is some talent behind this movie, and I hope they learn from their mistakes and do better - so we can see more of their work in the future.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Peterloo

Long & boring

(Edit) 20/06/2019

The film starts two weeks before the Peterloo massacre and then spends 2 hours getting to the massacre itself. So we have a procession of talking heads going on about the demonstration, what they want and the emphasis that the demonstration is supposed to be peaceful. Then the demonstration happens and the authorities react with violence. It is a true life account, but it is so dull. The film achieves in two and a half hours what a documentary would do in one hour. Yes, Peterloo was an important event in Britain's history, but the film rather misses this point - as what happened after the event is as important as what happened before it - and that's what is missed. I'm sure some history students would find this interesting, but it is story telling by numbers.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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Molly's Game

An entertaining story

(Edit) 30/05/2019

An entertaining story that zips along at a good pace.

The story focuses on Molly, a young lady who hosts high stakes poker games for celebrities and others. They film goes into how she sets the games up, how she ran the games and then starts to get into trouble. The story is fairly light hearted through-out - similar to Casino - but much less bloody and violent. Someone sets up a dubious gambling enterprise and it develops problems...

Jessica Chastain breezes through the part and presents a smart character who likes to stay in control. Idris Elba does a nice turn as her legal counsel.

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Dag: Series 2

Incredibly funny

(Edit) 17/02/2019

Dag is an incredibly funny situational comedy featuring very dark Scandinavian humour. Each episode is 25 minutes long. The main character is Dag, a psychotherapist who spend most of his time giving relationship guidance to couples. Dag suffers from some form of condition himself, which makes it hard for him to form relationships with people. Despite this he has a bunch of friends who get into all kinds of scrapes. His best friend, Benedikt can't seem to say no to sex or drugs. In addition Dag's starts to help a friend of his sister out, and a relationship starts to bloom, but her past and Dag's own mental health means the relationship is on rocky ground. As each series develops the recurring characters and their relationships change and get more complicated. This is a blacker - and much funnier version than Men behaving badly. Not for children.

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Jeune Femme

Slice of life dullness

(Edit) 12/02/2019

An irresponsible brat of a woman wanders around Paris being generally loathsome having spent her life partying on party drugs. She finds a job, probably for the 1st time in her life, and hates it. After this, she wanders around Paris for a bit more. until she gets bored - or you do and switch it off.

There's no drama, nothing likeable about the main character and the whole film just shuffles along following this shambling wreck of a character.

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Emperor

Dull fact based bipac which lacks drama

(Edit) 15/10/2018

The film follows General Fellers around as he attempt to investigate the Japanese Emperor's role in the second world war, and find out what happened to his girlfriend who disappeared at the outbreak of war.

The film is rather listless - Tommy Lee Jones steals the movie playing General McArthur, and you almost get the feeling that the movie should have been about him - and been a better movie for it.

Instead we are stuck with Fellers, who broods over his typewriter revealing his thought processes and a rather lacklustre investigation where he goes round and visits various Japanese officials and has conversations with them, which prove to be about as dramatic as watching paint dry.

Yes, this is a movie based on historic events, and maybe that's the problem. It reveals details of the Japanese surrender and the role of the occupational forces, but it really doesn't engage the viewer much. Lots of pretty scenery and costumes - but with a lacklustre story that seems to almost be forgotten at times.

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Red Sparrow

Cold war inspired thriller

(Edit) 18/08/2018

OK, the story features a young Russian ballerina who is persuaded to join the Russian Intelligence services. She is sent to training school, where she learns the art of seducing information out of subjects before being sent on a mission. The presentation of the FSB is not much more than the usual cliched stuff found in Bond movies and spy thrillers from the cold war. There's nudity, violence and silly Russian accents with warnings of you being shot - it almost looks like a Russian version of La Femme Nikita.

So, the agent is sent off on assignment and it starts to get more complex and convoluted. The problem is that a lot of the complications, and the resolution are internal ones so as a viewer it is very difficult to understand what is happening and why - so when it gets to the final reel, the viewer is left somewhat cold.

Jennifer Lawrence gives a good performance, but the story is confusing at points and cliched in others, which means you don't come away with a great impression. I'm sure there is a great cold war thriller somewhere that revolves around a seduction agent, but this isn't it.

5 out of 5 members found this review helpful.
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