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Rating History

The Warrior (Musa)
10 days ago via Flixster

A disparate collection of travellers including soldiers, diplomats, and refugees are thrown together in 14th century china as they are pursued by the Mongol army . Known as The Warrior in the UK, this historical epic inevitably draws comparison to Hero and House of Flying Daggers, but actually is more in the tradition of Kurosawa than those more fantasy based offerings. Clearly owing debts to Seven Samurai and The Hidden Fortress in particular, it's also influenced by John Ford's cavalry films in that it takes the time to explore all of the characters involved and the rich collection of antagonistic factions and conflicting loyalties make for a much more interesting character dynamic than most. It may not have the artsy visuals and production value of the projects of Zhang Yimou or Ang Lee but the grittier approach makes for a beautifully crafted historical adventure with just the right balance of heroism and believability, with beautifully shot locations and grippingly realistic, bloody battle sequences. Although it was a co-production with the Chinese film industry, Musa still deserves recognition as one of the films that marked the coming of age of Korean film making and is one of the best Asian historical epics of recent years.

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome
8 months ago via Flixster

The latest offering in the Battlestar Galactica saga is a William Adama origin story that tells of his first mission flying as a pilot for the colonial fleet. The reason the reboot of Battlestar Galactica worked so well was because of its adult themes, sophisticated characterisation and involving story arcs, performed by a cast of very talented actors. What we have in Blood & Chrome is none of these things. It's essentially a rather amateurish version of Top Gun in space featuring Luke Pasqualino (who is more Wesley Crusher than William Adama) earnestly "doing the right thing" in front of an unconvincing green screen. Even the cylons don't look like cylons, instead resembling a cross between a terminator and a transformer. I can only assume that this substandard, humourless clone of a mediocre episode of Stargate SG-1 was intended to hook a younger (and stupider) audience than the original series because aside from some of the spaceships, it has nothing at all in common with it.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
8 months ago via Flixster
½

The second part of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy sees the fellowship part company. Frodo and Sam encounter Gollum, cleverly presented as a kind of wretched schizophrenic drug addict which makes for a much more interesting character dynamic than the "You're my best friend Sam! "I love you Mr. Frodo!" of the first film. Meanwhile Pippin and Merry escape their captors and persuade the forest dwelling Ent to join the fight in a rather ham-fisted eco analogy. And finally Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli whose camaraderie is developed find new allies in Rohan and rejoin Gandalf to defend the fortress of Helm's Deep in a quite spectacular and monumental battle sequence. Although The Two Towers is as long as The Fellowship Of The Ring, the intertwining story threads, all told in parallel complete with a liberal dose of action make for much better pacing. I still have a problem with stories reliant on magic because if characters can come back to life for no reason other than it's convenient to the plot or can just say "Abracadabra" and make danger, and therefore suspense, disappear makes for little in the way of narrative logic. I also felt that Saruman got far too little screen time which left a focal villain lacking, but in this film Jackson has made a fantasy film I not only endured, but enjoyed.

The Forbidden Kingdom
2 years ago via Flixster
½

An American kung fu movie geek is entrusted with an ancient staff which transports him to a magical world where the mystical kung fu characters of his movies are real. The Forbidden Kingdom is a throwback to the wish fulfilment fantasies of the 1980s, sharing a lot in common with the likes of The Karate Kid, Big Trouble In Little China and even Indiana Jones. Making the hero of the film an American will no doubt irritate many and he is certainly the least interesting character in the film, but he is for the most part a figure of fun in the same way as Jack Burton was in Big Trouble. Jet Li strikes up a great buddy partnership with Jackie Chan who revives his Drunken Master routine, and their face off is impressive as you'd expect. And having grown up on cheesy 70s TV show Monkey, I'd have to say that he makes a brilliant Monkey King; I'd go as far as to say that I'd love to see a film version with him in the role. I would have to say that it is inevitably very formulaic and Yefei Liu's superfluous character only seems to be there to make sure that there's an even distribution of hotties. As a whole it's a funny, exciting family friendly fantasy with a knockabout charm that is clearly pandering to the Pirates Of The Shaolin crowd. But it works. Corny in an almost pleasing way and probably the best thing Jackie Chan has done since he first started bending over for the Hollywood buck, hating this film for the "homogenization of Chinese culture" is basically like calling Mr. Miyagi an evil traitorous sell out. Completely missing the point.

The Next Three Days
2 years ago via Flixster
½

A schoolteacher's wife is imprisoned for first degree murder based upon circumstantial evidence and when the final appeal fails and she resorts to a suicide attempt he pours all his skills as a researcher into engineering a meticulous plan to break her out. Very much in a similar vein to TV series Prison Break, The Next Three Days has the premise of an ordinary and honest man resorting to extreme measures when faced with an untenable situation. It's not as convoluted as the series however, concentrating more on the human drama than histrionics; in fact the inevitable mix of wobbly-cammed screeching tires, helicopters and cop dodging is easily the least interesting part of the film. Some will be disappointed at the lack of action, especially considering the trailer which was clearly cut together to make it look like another shit-witted action thriller for the ADHD generation but I personally am a fan of Haggis' more subtle and human approach to the thriller formula which dispenses with the usual associated macho bullshit and pointless running around with guns. As a result it feels a lot more plausible and realistic (at least until the rather unlikely finale) and you actually care what happens to the characters thanks to a strong performance from Crowe as the desperate husband and father. It does stall somewhat near the conclusion and never really gets back into gear, but the intelligent approach makes it a cut above the usual Hollywood fare.