Film Reviews by CS

Welcome to CS's film reviews page. CS has written 177 reviews and rated 511 films.

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Kin

Good to average, fun to watch, nice n gritty drama, but far from original!

I still can't decide whether I think this is a good film or just yet another average plodding along B Movie! The storyline is far from original and has been done before so many times in so many formats. This is basically a brother bonding road movie that has been given a si-fi element to beef it up a bit and a few criminal elements to give it some action. Otherwise it really is simply a road movie about two brothers bonding whilst on a road trip, morality message thrown in, oh and of course one has to also throw in the obligatory female just for the sake of it, even though she's completely irrelevant to the story! Zoe Kravitz, who plays the love interest in this, her acting is very average and having seen her in a number of other films, I get the distinct impression that she is only getting the parts because of who her father is (Lenny Kravitz), a bit like Jaden Smith syndrome! The acting from the two leads is solid and so is the direction, it is quite a good film, but I found it dragged in parts and seemed to have a very strong interracial message, which is a good thing, but very American and it was quite predictable who the Aliens were and what connection the young lad had to them. And of course they simply couldn't help setting us up for a sequel towards the end, which really annoys me in films! When this started and we saw the shot of the housing estate, I thought it was a low budget Film Foundation affair, where they fund up and coming film makers, as it had that kind of feel to it, as if most of the people involved had just come out of Art College and were making their first steps into the industry!

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The Girl on the Train

Classic European style Psychotic Thriller!

I've read some hugely widely varying reviews of this film, but can't understand why it has received such bad reviews, when in fact, or at least for me, it's actually quite a good film to watch. A classic psychotic thriller, that has a slightly erratic and irritating beginning which may lead you to switch off but bear with it and you see why when it all starts to unravel and the story unfold! I actually thought this came across as quite a slick european styler thriller, a classic whodunnit, with lots f twists and turns. The constant flashbacks can get quite confusing as can the fact that two of the characters look virtually the same, but this isn intentional as you will discover later on on the film why! All in I was pleasantly surprised at what a god film this actually is and quite enjoyable too, of not slightly disturbing!

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Mortal Engines

Not as clever or original as it seem to think it is!

Mortal Instruments: This film tries to portray itself as something totally new and original and that the author has created a totally unique fantasy world that no-one else ever thought of, in fact in the bonus features, they actually quite blatantly claim that no-one has ever seen a moving city before! If you're a Sci-Fi buff and familiar with vintage tales, you'll know that the concept of a moving city eating everything in it's path is at least as old as the 1920's. If you look at Sci-Fi from the 1920's, right through to the 1970's, you'll see this theme constantly repeated in the worlds of authors such as Jules Verne, HG Wells, HP Lovecraft and Isaac Asimov, and also in the classic artworks of artists such as Roger Dean and Dave Greenslade. Disney's 'John Carter' based upon the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, even has a moving City also! So whilst Mortal Engines is nothing new and definitely not an original storyline, it is quite a good film to watch with some interesting imagery, but it has all been done before. It's like a modern day Cyberpunk mash up of Mad Max, Terminator, Waterworld, Star Wars and oh so many others! It reminded me so much of some of the classic Japanese Anime such as 'Howls Moving Castle', which it echoes very strongly. Hugo Weaving as usual gives a very strong performance as the baddy in all of this, but the rest of the cast really are quite limp in their parts and of course we are given the obligatory but totally unnecessary love angle to boot! So a good Sunday afternoon teen movie and I'm sure teens will probably think it's great and highly original, simply because the producers tell us it is, but an older audience will simply have seen it all done before and so much better!

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Ghost in the Shell

Good fun to watch, but nothing new or special!

Based upon the original film and cartoons series from China, this is literally iRobot vs Blade Runner, set in a dystopian future, where humans update and upload themselves into the net for an enhanced lifestyle! There are some very slick and stylish set pieces, scenery and CGI, but the film is mainly CGI with the actors in front of blue screen most of the time. The storyline is completely unoriginal, but engaging enough and the film plods along at a decent pace. Very predictable and nothing new at all for this genre, it's basically yet another telling of the perils of cyberspace and humanity embracing the new digital technology and the big brother corporation manipulating us all for power and money! The city looks like a Blade Runner version of Hong Kong and the film very clearly is made for an east asian market, especially when they are talking Japanese half the time! I'm not quite sure why Scarlett is shown naked most of the time, although she is a humanoid, the necessary sexuality is still there. Given that the premise of the film, is the 'Ghost in the Shell', i.e. the human should in a robotic body, there isn't much investigation or exploration of this concept in the film at all, so it tries to be deeper than it actually is! Most of the imagery looks stolen from other classic sci-fi films and as I said before, this literally comes across as a Blade Runner vs iRobot hybrid!

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The Grinch

Ok but very average and not a patch on the Jim Carrey version!

At the beginning I found this quite dull and felt it dragged out a bit, but it does get better as you go along. I'm not quite sure the reason for giving us yet another version of a Dr.Seuss classic, when they've already been overdone. In essence The Grinch is a reworking of the Dicken's classic 'Scrooge'. Excessively heavy on the girl power, which could have been pulled back a bit, and cheesy to say the least with the message of love. Which is quite ironic given that it was the Who's and their bad treatment of the Grinch which made him this way in the first place! The ending has got a nice feel good factor to it and I'm sure the kids will love this, but I found it a bit too cheesy to my taste and personally I felt the 2000 version starring Jim Carrey to be far superior! One of the problems Illumination and all the other Animation Studios seem to have is that they use the same templates for all their films, rather than new ones, so you see the same characters rehashed constantly and this film is no exception in that respect, the downside is that you're constantly reminded of characters in other movies, rather than bringing something fresh and new to the film! This film brings nothing new to the story, it's simply yet another animated movie for the time period and very little more in effect!

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The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption

Awful, nothing to do with the original Scorpion King at all!

Given that the first film starring Dwayne Johnson was such a fantastic and well made film, I should have known better, seeing that there are four of these in the series, and none of them have the same actors staying on for more! Firstly this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the original Scorpion King character, it feels like they simply used the name to help sales! Secondly it's full of cheap tacky sexual objectification, with female warriors wearing G-strings and the men all pecs and hairy chests pouting out. Yet for all of this, the script is dire, really unoriginal and quite simplistic, as is the storyline. The editing is all over the place and the direction is virtually none existent. This is literally a Chinese Martial Arts movie, made on location at what appear to be the Temple ruins and Jungles of Thailand. Most of the cast appear to be locals drafted in for the film and because they have very little in the way of talking parts every now and then you hear some words shouted from the sidelines in the background, which gets really annoying! You've got Roman Soldiers, Accadians, Greeks, Japanese Ninjas, all sort of characters from completely different timeframes all thrown in to create a really muddled mix, especially when the original Scorpion King was set in the Middle East at the time of the Ancient Egyptians! In all this is a very badly thought out movie, which appears to have been made on a TV Series budget, in fact I kept thinking it felt like a very cheap American-Chinese TV Series strung together into a movie. Why you've got Ninjas running up waterfalls and straight up trees, as though they are in a Chinese Martial Arts movie, obviously on wires, with Accadians, Greeks and Romans, is beyond comprehension! Whoever scripted this very clearly has no awareness of historical timelines and at one point there is even reference to Viking Gods thrown in for good measure! Just a very badly and cheaply made film, with probably more appeal to the Chinese East Asian market than anywhere else.

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Robin Hood

Assassins creed for the Middle Ages, give it a miss!

When a film starts with the immortal lines, "If you think you know this story, well think again", you just know it's not going to be able to deliver the goods that it promises and sure enough, this film does not disappoint on that angle! I'm unclear as to whether the makers actually bothered to research the story and myth behind Robin Hood and how the myth came into being, or why it is still so relevant today, but rather than being a new retelling of this classic tale of good vs evil, this just comes across as a bad American smash and grab raid! Whilst presumably set at the time of the Crusades, which is around the mid 13th to 14th century historically, there is very little of historical detail or relevance in this film. It becomes clear very quickly that the makers have decided instead to create a CGI world fit for a computer game, with very modern set pieces reminiscent of Mad Max or Assassins Creed. All the clothing and gadgets are very modern, with the Sheriff of Nottingham looking more like a Nazi in his overcoat and boots, than anything remotely Medieval. It looks like most of the scenes were filmed in front of a blue screen, with the background being added later digitally, in fact the whole film reminded me very much of Assassins Creed and looked more like a computer game than anything. Although the lead is played by Taron Egerton, from Kingsman, I kept thinking of the Hunger Games, because that’s who he looked like and much of the style was similar too! Jamie Fox Must have been really embarrassed, as I’m not sure why his character has been used to promote Islam so much, but there’s no flow or strength to the main characters or their relationship. Numerous and very heavy criticisms are made of the Catholic Church, pointing out their corruption and hypocrisy and quite rightly so too, with the Sheriff saying that they use fear to control the people, which is why they created Hell. But then goes on to talk about Muslims not fearing death for they are assured a place in Heaven. Surely given that all religion is the same in this respect, in relation to hypocrisy, control and manipulation of the masses, Islam should be treated with the same contempt, in the name of equality! The script was really dire and badly written, I’m not sure they would have used such modern terms as Yo Bro way back then and the direction and editing are all over the place. Basically this comes across as nothing more then a sloppy and very heavily edited version of the Hunger Games set in the Middle Ages, with really awful CGI and of course the obligatory setting up at the end for a sequel!

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Aquaman

Absolutely awful wish mash, all over the place!

Right from the start, this film is a mish mash of concepts and ideas. It tries to be very clever, deep and meaningfull, yet simply doesn't have the depth of script or storyline to carry it off! The story is really basic and has been done so many times before, in fact it really is just another marvel movie, only this time set underwater. The script is dire, whilst the Atlanteans try to come off as very intelligent by using posh voices and words, Aquaman just comes across as a common thing with very limited vocabulary and typical hard man one off lines. The direction is sloppy and the editing, filmography and scenes are all over the place. The CGI on the underwater scenes is really messy and very poorly done, what should be beautifully haunting underwater seascapes, because cheap cut n paste blobs of cpoulour as the movement is so fast paced that you never actually get to see anything. Overtime they went underwater I was constantly reminded of Star Wars and Valerian, most of the costumes and machines looked like they had been pinched from Star wars and given a fish overhaul whilst the lavish scenery has been done so much better in other sic-fantasy films such as Valerian or even John Carter! At over two hours long, the film really started to drag as well, because it simply does not have the quality of script or action or drama to draw you in. Highly predictable, badly made and totally unoriginal, I found this quite a boring film to watch. And why Aquaman kept speaking Maori is beyond comprehension!

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

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Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

What is the point of it all?!

Whilst the Harry Potter series were fantastic, well thought out and brilliantly presented, with each film being strong enough to stand on it's own. This (not so) Fantastic Beasts series is fast becoming a clone of all those nasty Marvel movies out there, created purely for the money, with no or very little creative or artistic merit and constantly creating endings that link to the next movie in the franchise! Eddy continues his annoying portrayal, coming across as more autistic than shy and never looking at you or whoever he is talking to! Un-necessarily linking this into the Harry Potter/Dumbledore/Hogwarts characters also spoils it in a way and would have been much better if they had concentrated on leaving Harry Potter out of it completely. The CGI in the opening action sequence is really messy, it's so all over the place and difficult to see what is actually going on. Johnny Depp doesn't really bring anything to the film and neither do any of the other actors or characters in the film, with the one exception of Jude Law, who whilst slightly miscast, does appear to at least make an attempt! What made Harry Potter so special and so successful was that it was mostly a British affair, employing strictly British or European actors and making no attempt at all at pandering to an American audience. Sadly the Fantastic Beasts series appears right from the start to be pandering almost exclusively to an American audience and even when the story is relocated to Paris and London, it still cannot shake of the Americana of it all! This is not a good sign of things to come with this series and with more in the planning, I shan't hold my breath!

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Bohemian Rhapsody

Historical and PC Criticism aside, this is a really good movie!

Having read so much negative criticism of this film and then it winning so many awards at the Oscars, I was unsure what to expect from this. Supposedly a biog of Freddie Mercury, but coming across much more as a marketing exercise for the band, in order to boost record sales. The film concentrates far too heavily on Freddie’s (mostly platonic) friendship with Mary, strongly suggesting that he was heterosexual or at least bisexual, but even as Mary herself says in the film “no Freddie, you’re Gay”! The Social and Religious cultural group that his family come from were and still are notoriously homophobic, yet this is never mentioned in the film, instead choosing to concentrate on the persecution they allegedly received from, but it’s never actually mentioned (Muslims) during the partition of India! A lot of the films allegedly historical events are taken out of time and context and the musical chronology is all over the place, placing songs such as ‘Crazy Little Thing called love’ and the Jazz album, literally five years before their time! Which gets slightly confusing if you actually lived through these times and experienced the development of the band first hand as a fan or simply as someone living through it all! No mention is made either of the time when Queen were allegedly ripped off by their management, something which the song ‘Death on Two Legs’ is purportedly about, so some of the less savoury experiences of the band are skipped over. This film has received heavy criticism for not being a true reflection of Freddie’s life and for pandering to PC tastes and one does get the impression that much has been watered down and heterosexualised, in order not to offend and to cater for certain geographical, religious and political markets! As a result if you see this film as an honest biography of both the band and Freddie, you will be very disappointed, because a faithful biography it very clearly is not, and some of the political correctness does get in the way of telling a good story, as seems to be the norm for many films nowadays! However if you see it as simply a rock n roll film about a band who make the big time, then it is hugely entertaining and the soundtrack really does move things along very nicely. I was surprised at what a good film this actually is, casting all critique aside, Malek turns in quite a good if not slightly watered down, version of Freddie, but really is the only main character in the whole movie, with literally everybody else just playing as side kicks. Mary is quite prominent throughout and in many ways it is she who appears to be falsely portrayed as the real victim in all of this, in fact sometimes rather sickeningly so, whilst very little emphasis is placed upon Freddie’s sexuality and the real issues that he faced as a result. The allegedly notorious sex parties and over the top drama that he was well known for are virtually non existent, however there is no denying that Freddie Mercury was one of, it not the Greatest Showman of the 20th Century! Allegedly one of the biggest grossing films of the year, this gives clarity on why certain aspects were possibly downplayed, in order to create a more commercial and sellable formula! So casting any scepticism aside and not taking itself too seriously, with the occasional humorous moment, I found this a thoroughly enjoyable if not slightly confusing romp through the 70’s and 80’s history of Rock N roll a la Queen!

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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You Were Never Really Here

Interesting but way too arty and mixed up!

I'm not quite sure what relevance the title of this film has to the actual events portrayed, but I can see why this film is almost universally praised by Critics yet again almost universally panned by the general public! It sets itself up as yet another violent action movie, another Liam Nielson style film, bent on retribution and righting wrongs. The premise this time being the abduction and sexual exploitation of young teenage girls. However whilst you see Phoenix running around constantly wielding a hammer and lots of bodies lying around on the floor, you never actually see any violence, it's all implied, he walks into a room carrying a hammer, next you see the body lying on the floor, so not much in the way of real action, just constantly implied! There is some very beautiful cinematography and imagery in this film, in fact so much so that it gets in the way of the actual plot, which is wafer thin in the first place! There are constant flashbacks roughly chopped into the film, quite often at the wrong time and the editing just gets a little jarring at times. This film is trying to bring an arty almost surreal feel to what should have been a gritty and honest action movie and whilst it works as a piece of surreal cinema, it doesn't quite work as an action movie! There is very little dialogue, the Director instead choosing to tell the story via the use of music and contemporary songs. But fir me the juxtaposition of constant flashbacks, surreal moments and the actual film make it quite jumbled and disorientating, which is why I can see that this isn't quite to the taste of those expecting a full oj action movie and is much, much more one for art critics than the general masses!

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Overlord

Good film, shame about the usual American arrogance!

What's good about this film is that it's a fairly honest and graphic account of the true horrors of war. However we start off with a host of American Bombers full of Yanks attempting to liberate German occupied France, with the historically false premise that it was the Americans who saved Europe and won the War for us all (sic)! Then what follows is a well made slick, stylish and quite violent action war movie. The acting and direction are top notch as is the cinematography and the cast appear to work well together, the storyline, whilst not original, moves along quite nicely. Then towards the end we are introduced to the not quite Zombie element of the film but why this works so well is that it isn't a Zombie movie in the true sense, it more about experimentation and the horrors of war and isn't cheap or tacky like some horror movies can be. It's got quite a nice European feel to it, rather than the usual over the top American style you usually see, so all in a really great movie. However right at the end, we are treated to yet another nauseatingly false fact that under the command of General Eisenhower, the Yanks once agains saved and liberated Europe (sic), the fact is the Americans were far too busy profiting from the war and dealing with the Japanese at this point to have had much of an involvement by then! However what really ruins it is watching the extras, where the actors are so busy patting each other on the back and telling you how fantastic they all are, instead of talking about the film, it made me want to positively retch, it was that nauseating to watch!

1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

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Sherlock Gnomes

Not a patch on the original and plagued with sexism!

Whilst the first film 'Gnomio and Juliet' was quite a good, well made and very funny film, this sequel simply falls flat on its face and for obvious reasons! First off is the constant feminist men bashing and horrendous put downs, which sadly seem to have become the norm and is plaguing the industry at the moment! It's not ok to constantly slag off men and is quite hypocritical as it doesn't endorse equality in any shape or form. As a consequence this film becomes all about 'girl power' and women can make it on their own, be strong and powerful, whilst strutting around in their underwear and using sex to sell themselves, whilst hypocritically showing at the end that perhaps she really does need her man after all! For me this could have been quite a good film, but sadly the strong and blatant feminist angle simply destroys it completely!

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King of Thieves

Surprisingly dull given the stellar cast!

Given the stellar cast and famous faces in this, I was surprised how dull and boring it actually was! I would have expected some top quality acting given whose in this and whilst the cast do appear to try and pull it off (no pun intended), they fail miserably, because the script, direction and production simply aren't up to the job! I personally would recommend the far superior 'The Hatton Garden Job' from 2017, which is a far superior and better made film in every way!

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople

At last a great family movie for everyone to enjoy!

I'd never heard of this film but was pleasantly surprised when I watched it, I thought it was a great family movie, really fun and enjoyable to watch, with a great message of honesty, truth and what family truly means! In an age where we are oversaturated by bland over the top, badly made action movies, it's refreshing to see something which is just plain fun, lot's of laughs, but lots of sad moments too. Parts of this made me cry, parts laugh, but it was really touching too. The script and direction are top notch. as is the fantastic cinematography which shows the most beautiful of New Zealand landscapes at it's absolute best. The acting is superb by all concerned, but Sam Neill and his relationship with the young boy really develops and the young lad playing the part really shines through in the end! I can strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good back to basics film about life and it has to offer!

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