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Rating History

Virtual Sexuality
6 years ago via Movies on Facebook

One of those refreshingly smart teen flicks, this film is all style and snappy dialogue, with a surprisingly honest ending for once.

The characters are a hoot too, with nerdy romantic hero and the girl who accidentally turns herself into her perfect man, with usual mix of the sexes humour. But the villains are ridiculous.

And the plot gets lost when it reintroduces the female hero. Justine turns herself into a man (Jake) due to a freak accident, fine. But when it turns out there is still a female Justine wandering around, oblivious to the existence of her alter ego, suddenly the film dips in intelligence and confuses who the film is supposed to focus on. Justine loses any personality she had and fancies Jake, Jake, despite being her, gets erections over women and is ultimately doomed to non-existence, which is lame and obvious. When Justine and Jake interact, it's all schmaltz. It's just another teen-wants-to-lose-virginity-for-sake-of-losing-virginity-can-they-stop-her-in-time plot which must have been done in every film that's featured a teenage girl, ever. And the villains are just so hackneyed, sheesh, what film did they wander in from?

Jake works as a lead, with nerdy Chas as support, and that film might have been worth watching, but this is the dull-Justine ride, another teen sex comedy, and it's not worth it. If only they'd stuck to the body swap idea, it could have been great. Well, for a teen flick, anyway.

Volcano (1997)
6 years ago via Movies on Facebook

Staggeringly effective disaster movie. There's a volcano under LA and emergency chief Mike Roark is stuck in the middle of it with his precious daughter.

After a scary earthquake moment, Roark and kid drive right into the most stunning scene of the film, when huge flaming rocks hurtle into the air, smashing down destruction as they fall, like some kind of alien attack. This shortly precedes the tar pits overflowing in an unstoppable tide of lava that becomes the main drive of the film.

A volcano makes for a terrifying villain. Perhaps because fire is fundamentally what humans fear most, there are several diverse waves of 'attack' and the lava is not something that can be escaped. If anyone falls into that stuff, they're dead instantly. There's no going in to save them. There is a blunt finality to this onslaught that really pushes up the tension.

The constant falling ash keeps the tight deadline constantly in mind for the audience and the pace doesn't let up, visually reinforced by the lava constantly pouring down the street, the characters forced to continually back away.

But it's not just the high levels of suspense and threat that make Volcano so watchable; there's a depth created by cutting between several smaller characters in moments of generally suicidal heroism and a much-needed sense of humour that's almost tongue in cheek. As terrifying as the special effects are, there's a good-natured feel to the film to lend support in what otherwise be all flash and no substance.

There's a jarring moment of random moralising right at the end, but other than that, the sense of gleeful edge-of-seat anticipation carries the audience right through to the conclusion. This is once piece of disaster thriller that succeeds completely in what it sets out to do. I'm thrilled, and I'm terrified of volcanoes.

Walk the Line
Walk the Line (2005)
6 years ago via Movies on Facebook

A Johnny Cash biopic, doing the old biopic trick of making the hero horribly dislikeable.

It has a bizarre style. A strange sugarcoated, rose-tinted depiction of a man who is set up throughout as utterly repulsive. The entire film appears to be saying, 'yes, he's horrible, look how horrible he is, doesn't matter though.' He's a drug-abusing Lothario; he's hopelessly cruel to his wife Vivian, attacking her in front of their three children, at which point she promptly drops out of the film and he's creepy, stalkerish and threatening to supposed romantic interest June Carter despite her not seeming to like him. This just piles on to the depiction of Cash's bad side, never hinting at a positive side. Yet the film seems to like him.

Walk The Line assumes the audience is already familiar with Cash and need only highlight certain events for them to go, "Ahh, yes, that," which doesn't help if you know nothing about the man. We never get to see why, how or if Cash is so famous. Joaquin Phoenix plays Cash as a simpleton, so that I assumed Cash had a learning disability, but this is never mentioned, and having seen some of Phoenix's other films, I'm beginning to think it's just his acting.

And then there's the terrible, guffaw-inducing dialogue.

A poorly constructed story that did nothing for me, other than make me dislike and slightly fear Cash. What's all the hype about?

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
6 years ago via Movies on Facebook

The sad news is that the marvellous Wallace & Gromit don't transfer to a longer format as well as fans might hope.

The previous shorts were quite insular. We never saw more extra characters than an alien robot, a criminal penguin, a sheep rustler, her robot dog and a sheep (and that one already stretched the format a bit too much). Seeing Wallace and Gromit interact with an entire community doesn't work. While the hideously ugly populace are both weird and stupid, a physics-defying inventor and his human-like dog are still unbelievable in a real world. How is this a world where the moon is made of cheese, or the police could mistake a gun-toting penguin with a rubber glove on his head for a chicken?

Now Wallace and Gromit are anti-pesto, protecting the town's vegetables from rabbits, and soon from a much bigger threat, the were-rabbit (who eats so many veg in one night, it doesn't make sense that there are any left). Some plot elements don't really go anywhere and the were-rabbit itself is dull. Quite an important plot development is spoiled in the trailer, which is unbelievably stupid of the marketing department. There isn't much to this plot so it would be nice if the audience could at least go in not knowing everything already.

There're a few good moments that almost feel like old times, such as when Gromit is left alone in the car at night, and even the transformation scene and dogfight finale are exciting, but it's never that thrilling. Okay, so there's a hunter villain, Victor, but this is no moon robot about to bludgeon Wallace, or a penguin about to shoot him. There's no real moment of heartbreak, like the robot desperate to get to Earth or Gromit running away from home. No gentle welling of tears at the crushed hopes of the innocent here.

But Gromit remains an excellent lead. This silent plasticine dog has impeccable comedy timing, although I could have lived without seeing him perform an alluring dance. However, having to spend an hour and twenty minutes with Wallace emphasises how he's so nuts, it's disturbing, and he's so stubbornly stupid and condescending to Gromit that he's a constant irritation.

As for the supporting characters, Totty the rabbit-loving 'romantic interest' is boring, annoying and contradictory, and even more of an irritation than Wallace. Victor is far more interesting, and Ralph Fiennes delivers the lines brilliantly. Victor's dog Philip and PC Mackintosh also add welcome relief.

The bigger world and longer running time work against The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, but it does, in places, retain the eeriness of Wallace & Gromit, it can also be exciting, and it is amusing. It just isn't as good as the previous shorts.

WALL-E (2008)
6 years ago via Movies on Facebook

Earth, buried under rubbish, no sign of life except one still-active robot slowly building skyscrapers of refuse. An awing opening.

WALL-E is a compelling hero, lonely, brave and adorable. Quite a feat for a box that beeps. Our mute hero collects everyday objects he doesn't understand from the absent humans and hoards them in his cavern-like home, reminiscent of The Little Mermaid. But then a huge rocket lands and drops off a slick white search robot, EVE. EVE's a typical movie female lead, an ice queen with little patience for our hero, and the romance here seems quite random. WALL-E is desperately lonely and she's the only other thing around. But it's the catalyst for the plot, so go with it.

It's a little jarring once the plot moves into space and we discover what happened to the human race, and everything is a lot less impressive and feels like business as usual for a kids' film. But it's still fun, and that's what it's going for.

WALL-E is entertaining and emotionally charged, just like good cartoons should be. It has slapstick, adventure, sacrifice and love, and yes, it is just that little bit awing at times.