Stefan Grasso's Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Mad Max
Mad Max(1979)

Out of all the Mad Max films, this one immediately comes across as the odd one out. Whereas the other films play out as very stylized post-apocalyptic action films, this first film takes its cues from what was called the "new wave of Hollywood directors", which were more subtle in their approach than what you might see today. In fact, the film's director envisioned the film as something like a silent film, with the car-based action as an extension of the kinetic qualities of the kind of film he had in mind. Compared to its successors, the first Mad Max film is decidedly more experimental, resembling the modern equivalent of a Western film, only much darker and grittier. Indeed, the film tells a story of a good man who tries to cling on to sanity, but in the end is driven to the edge, and driven back into a job that he wanted to retire from. The story is slowly paced, but I think that makes sense given the film's direction. Unlike a lot of action films, this one gives us characters with actual depth, and I'm not just talking about Max himself. That being said, however, this is the only film in the series that gives any insight into what Max had to lose (specifically, his wife and child, who only appear in this film). Mel Gibson fits into the title role quite well, making for a convincing cop in a post-apocalyptic setting, and his character becomes all the more engaging as the film progresses, particularly towards the end. The villains are pretty much thugs, but they're not totally brainless, otherwise they wouldn't make for very good villains. The film emphasizes the madness of the villains in its script, but most of the credit should go to the actors portraying them. Their performances really bring out the grotty, deranged, violent characteristic that should come naturally in the context of the post-apocalyptic highway setting. In other words, they were nasty in a very believable way. It's worth mentioning that the film was produced on a budget of only around 400,000 Australian dollars, which was quite low even for its time. For something like that, the film is quite an eye-catching visual spectacle. The vehicular action scenes are choreographed quite well, and at the very least they're more enjoyable to look at than a by-the-numbers car chase scene. Of course, violence is everywhere in this film, and Max delivers highly proficient justice to his enemies, with a particular highlight of the film being that one scene where Max handcuffs a man to his car and sets him alight. All in all, George Miller did very well in crafting a mad, violent world to life. It may not be as well-done as its successor (and it certainly doesn't hold a candle to Mad Max: Fury Road), but even today, it's a cut above a number of action films, and it continues to stand out brilliantly amongst the other films of its kind.

La Double Vie de Véronique (The Double Life of Veronique)
½

This film presents a unique, but rather confusing concept. The film revolves around two women who lead separate lives, have no immediate connection with other, are not related to each other, but not only are they physically identical, but somehow they have an emotional bond that transcends all physical boundaries, and they also appear to meet their end in the same way. In all honesty, that premise doesn't make any sense at all, but does allow for some distractingly beautiful film-making. As for the film's two main characters, the dual roles are played rather convincingly by the film's lead actress Irène Jacob, who drifts through the two roles like feathers caught in the wind. Her performances of the two characters almost mirror each other, although the script offers some slight differences between the two. Despite this being a foreign-language film, I felt I could get quite engrossed in the film's atmosphere, mainly because the film illustrates a kind of poetic communication that, I must admit, is pretty much impossible for me to describe in a way that doesn't make me sound like a gibbering lunatic. It's a beautiful film in terms of both visuals and acting, but I find that the film is hampered by a directionless plot. It relies very heavily on the presence of its main protagonist, but it leaves behind a major paradox that it doesn't even try to resolve, despite there being ample time in which to resolve it. Thankfully, this is the kind of film that emphasizes on atmosphere and immersion rather than plot. If the film lacked any semblance of atmosphere, then it would have been a masterstroke in the fine art of boredom. On the topic of atmosphere, the film does a brilliant job at presenting and conveying atmosphere, and as I could mention several times by now, the film's mesmerizing atmosphere is its biggest strength because it distracts the viewer from a muddled plot. The film's fixation on music is something else to consider. Both the main characters are involved in music in some way (one a choir soprano and the other a music teacher), and the film makes heavy use of a haunting orchestral score. To be honest though, the film feels more to me like a painting than a film. That said, however, the film-makers seem to be aiming for the same kind of delicacy in their film-making technique as would be called for in the context of fine art painting. That's certainly the impression I get from the film's subtle blend of colours. Despite its flaws, I find that this film can and should be taken as a film of many interconnected characteristics. The story will most likely raise more questions that the director was inclined to answer, but it offers a rewarding package of fragility, beauty, intimacy and mystery within the frame of a subjective narrative. If you're not thinking about where every little detail fits, you'll probably be immersed in the vivid and often mystical trip the film seems to offer.

A Good Day To Die Hard

You'd think that by 2013 Hollywood would have figured out that there's simply no room for the old action films, but apparently somebody actually wanted a "Die Hard 5". I can think of so many reasons why a fifth Die Hard film was a terrible idea to begin with, and most of them exemplify a central problem - Die Hard as a film franchise was only good for a few meritorious films, and then it hibernated for over a decade, and immediately lost steam as soon as the producers tried reviving it. Essentially, Die Hard was a film franchise that died, and was quickly forgotten, and the producers honestly thought they could just bring it back without even trying to make it relevant to a newer generation of cinemagoers. Needless to say, they failed spectacularly, and right from the beginning it's painfully obvious that they couldn't hide from that. Even the title sequence tries using trendy graphics to make gullible viewers think that this is a next-generation Die Hard film, but really it's just a Steven Seagal movie with Bruce Willis filling Seagal's shoes. Making matters worse is a clearly uninspired story plagued by wildly liberal use of outdated action film clichés, and an extremely frail script. This could be forgiven in a low budget straight-to-DVD production, but for a film intended for cinematic release, there should have been higher standards. Despite this being a by-the-numbers Die Hard film, the most jarring aspect of the film, believe it or not, is how much of an insufferable jerk John McClane became in this film. If you loved him in the classic Die Hard, get ready to hate him as he shouts at a Russian man because he can't understand what he's saying. Is that the action hero audiences came to love in the late 1980's? Also, he and his son are quite horrible to each other, but then again, I highly doubt that any of the actors playing them had any interest in the plot. As for McClane's son, who is played incompetently by Jai Courtney, his character doesn't surprise me that much. In fact, one could say that the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. The other characters simply blend into the background due to bad acting and even worse writing. Another thing I should talk about is the film's poor presentation. For a film that apparently needed an excessive $92 million to make, it looks absolutely appalling. There's a noticeable absence of colour here, to the point that most scenes look like they were coloured with a bad mix of grey and blue. The production values are beyond awful, and it just makes me wonder how the producers spent their money. Did it go towards marketing, makeup, drugs? It seriously begs an explanation, since I find it hard to believe that a project this expensive looks so cheap. Even the action scenes look badly done, to the point that it's extremely obvious that the producers were hoping to compensate for a badly written plot with guns and explosions, as if the producers had no idea that 1980's are long gone. Overall, it's definitely the worst Die Hard film ever made, but somehow it goes beyond just being that. In fact, I'd say this is undoubtedly one of the worst action films of all time. In fact, we'd probably be better off if the Die Hard franchise would simply stay dead.

Cat People
Cat People(1982)

Right from the beginning, this film seemed like a very interesting film, and in all honesty, it is. I've heard that this is a loose adaptation of an older film of the same name, but I'm not here to compare the two, especially since I find this one more interesting. This film tries its best to be a different kind of horror film, with a narrative centring on a kind of mystique, and with an approach that emphasizes on skin rather than blood. That being said, however, despite the director's best efforts, the film finds itself in a bit of a bind in terms of direction. As a horror film, it's way too subtle to yield any direct chills, which would have worked well alongside its subtler fare, but its biggest problem is the plot. It opens with a scene that shows a woman being sacrificed to a leopard, and eventually transitions into the modern day setting, and for a time, the plot is pretty hard to follow. Eventually, you start hearing about the race of werecats, which explain the various leopard-related killings seen throughout the film, and even then, it's a good concept, but it's not executed very well. In this regard, I think this is because the film hides too much of what you might need to know. On the plus side, the film paces itself for long enough to create a level of intrigue that drives the plot forward. In a sense, the film is driven by mystique, and it's filled with surprises along the way, including the film's unexpected ending. The characters deliver good performances, but they don't do a lot to grab attention. The film's two lead characters, however, outperform all the others in the film, delivering splendid performances that are often as slick as the feline forms they often assume. In a way, the film illustrates the overall character of the film - slick yet animalistic. This character is also illustrated in how the film presents itself. The production values are fairly standard stuff for their time, but the film truly shines when day turns to night. The film also sports a lovely electronic soundtrack that creates a nice atmosphere for the film. Of course, the film opens with the signature song "Cat People", composed specifically for the film by David Bowie, whose music and vocals set a haunting mood for the opening scene of the film. One other thing that interests me about the film is its blending of horror with erotic fiction. This approach attempts to bring out a sense of primal, animalistic energy, and this was even reflected on the film's tagline ("an erotic fantasy of the animal in us all"). I'd say they've accomplished this with a lot of subtlety, to the point of it being artsy. I could also argue that the film's use of nudity as a primarily symbolic element is another accomplishment, especially as it is contrasted with the sudden gore scenes. It's very stylish and artsy, but it suffers because it's too subtle, and if you look at it seriously, it tends to come across as quite ridiculous softcore porn.

The Golden Compass

Personally, I always thought of this film as a dumb, impotent Narnia clone when it was new, and nearly a decade later, it certainly hasn't aged well at all. I haven't exactly read the book this is based on, but I've heard dozens of complaints saying that the book toned down several of the anti-religious elements of the books in order to avoid angering the Catholics. I can certainly tell that the plot was written very lazily, and it seems that they tried fitting in all manner of plot devices, events and characters in a film that's clearly too short to handle everything. On top of that, the film is paced in such a manner that it seems as though everything's being rushed, and it leaves too little time for the characters to develop properly, and bodes just as poorly for the many unanswered questions that the film's haphazardly written plot leaves behind. To be completely honest though, the film's mythology could have been quite interesting, and there might have been some hope for it had the screenwriters made more of an effort, but they settled on a trimmed down, by-the-numbers fantasy flick, and to make matters worse, they deliberately designed the ending so that it could lead on to a sequel, never mind that it would never ever get a sequel, not that such a meagre film deserves one. The characters weren't overly bad, but they were written in such a way that you can't really feel for them no matter how hard the actors try to convince us to feel for them. It doesn't help that there's no sense of moral ambiguity whatsoever. You can immediately tell who is good and who is evil just by looking at the characters. I could just as easily make the argument that you could tell who the villains were just by looking at the poster. Nothing is left to your imagination, and that I feel is a serious problem, and is not conducive to good fantasy fiction. To compensate for all that, the film sports some admittedly decent special effects, but worryingly enough, the film is almost all special effects, and so the CGI effectively becomes the producers' way of overcompensating for a poorly written film that, if were very honest, was simply trying to copy the kind of success that The Lord of the Rings enjoyed years earlier. Of course, the visuals and the special effects are pretty much the only noteworthy thing about the film, and that's because they're the only thing the film has to show for itself aside from what I can guess is a bad transition from book to screen. Clearly they should have put more thought and effort into this film, because if they had, this could have been somewhat better than all the other LoTR clones that had sprung up throughout the 2000's. Instead, we have a film that is quite slavish in its copying of other fantasy films. Whatever potential the film could have had is ultimately snuffed out by its lack of originality and the laziness of its producers.

Vampire in Brooklyn
½

This seemed like a somewhat ambitious project for both director Wes Craven and leading man Eddie Murphy. For Wes Craven, this was surely an opportunity to experiment with a more comedic direction, and for Eddie Murphy, it was an opportunity to play an uncharacteristically serious role. However, the end result struggles in its attempts to straddle horror and comedy, and there isn't a lot of balance in either approach. The premise is closely similar to Interview with the Vampire, but the film itself is decidedly less subtle in its execution of the central concept. It's not too bad, but they didn't try very hard in terms of actually realizing the concept, but at least the lead character is a lot more likable than in that other film, in my personal opinion at least. I was actually quite surprised by how straightforward the film was at the beginning. You see Eddie Murphy trying to pull off a variation of the Dave Vanian look while ripping a guy's heart out of his chest, and later on, he disguises himself as two other characters. One of them is a hilarious parody of the stereotypical loud preacher, who proceeds to give the best speech in the whole movie. The other one, however, is an awkwardly stereotypical Italian-American character whose performance tends to be rather hit or miss. The acting tends to be quite corny, but not bad enough that it's extremely off-putting. It would be somewhat decent if this were a made-for-TV film, but for a film intended for the cinema, there's a lot of ways in which it seems like they cut corners wherever they could. As usual, Eddie Murphy steals the show, but this time it's because he's trying to do something totally different to what we'd expect from him. Rather than try to be funny, Eddie's trying to play his character totally straight, and it's a bold attempt, but more often than not, it can turn into a comedic performance rather than a serious one, probably because of the film's unintentionally campy approach to its subject matter. The production values don't look very good, and unfortunately it's one of those films where the dark aesthetic style tends to make the film look murky rather than dark. However, sometimes there are scenes that manage to pull off a nice atmospheric quality, and I suppose the special effects aren't totally bad, but it's nothing worth grabbing a bucket of popcorn for. To me, the biggest problem is that they tried to market it as a more comedic horror film, when throughout the film a more serious horror direction tends to prevail. Then again, I doubt this would have been taken seriously if they marketed it as a straight-up horror film. Whatever the case, the result might have been the same no matter what the producers did. To me, despite it being derivative of other vampire films, this film actually might have had some potential, but it's the rather clumsy direction that ruins everything.

Interview with the Vampire
½

If you remember when vampires were classy and dignified creatures, then I'm sure this film will undoubtedly have some appeal. However, I personally feel that it's not as good as it could have been, but despite that, its pleasantly dark tone and dramatic storytelling ensure that the film consistently remains an interesting and atmospheric film. Unlike various other films in its genre, this film focuses on a vampire's point of view, and it doesn't exactly show the life of its vampire characters with rose-tinted glasses. The vampire life in this film is shown to be one of ceaseless suffering, with the main character seeking only the release of death (and he openly states this at the start of the film). Somehow, I can't help but think that this would be a more realistic take on what it might actually be like to be immortal. Since the film's vampires technically live forever, the writers had the opportunity to subvert the fantasy of eternal youth. Unfortunately, there are a few issues regarding the story, mainly the fact that too little happens over the film's ample runtime (what I would generally call a pacing issue), and there are quite a few unanswered questions raised by the film's plot. The main characters instantly remind me of some of the characters from the Castlevania games, but only on an aesthetic level. I big problem I notice is that it's difficult to sympathize with them, and in this regard, the first problem with the characters is that the actors are clearly trying too hard to live up to a melodramatic script. I understand the film's gothic horror approach, being quite familiar with the genre myself, but there is a point where dramatic acting with an austere tone of voice can become quite campy, and it doesn't take that much. The other problem is that one of the film's central characters (Tom Cruise's character to be specific) is a contemptible jerk who ruins the lives of everyone who goes near him. The film's message seems to be that nobody wants to be a vampire, and yet Lestat makes it his business to suck the blood of anything that moves, and when one of the characters calls him out for his behaviour, he calls her insane. Now that I think of it, Lestat's acting is probably the cheesiest of any character in the film. The other characters aren't really that likable either, but they're at least more tolerable, and at least they were blessed with better actors, though it still seems quite weird that the producers decided that the two French vampires should have American accents. On the plus side, the film is at least capable of taking advantage of the atmospheric quality of the film's setting, and some very nice costume and set design as well. The film sports a quite theatrical gothic style which, though not exactly unique, certainly sets the tone of the movie quite while. This is perhaps the biggest strength of a film that would otherwise sink before it could swim. Don't get me wrong, I do think it's a good movie, but the sad thing is that it could have been far better.

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
½

When Disney bought Lucasfilm three years ago, a lot of people, myself included, were expecting terrible things to happen to Star Wars (I remember a lot of jokes about Mickey Mouse swinging a lightsaber). Then, when I heard J. J. Abrams was going to direct it, I thought that things couldn't have looked worse. After all, that was the same director who ruined Star Trek. Who would have thought that this new direction would turn out to be exactly what Star Wars needed? Rather than alienating the fanbase, as the prequel trilogy did, the producers thought it would be best to try and recapture the spirit of the classic Star Wars films, and not only did they do that, they brought new life to Star Wars with a cast of strong new characters. In essence, this film takes the best aspects of the first three films and brings new elements into the mix. It's also good that the film uses Luke Skywalker as a plot element rather than making him the star yet again, otherwise he'd overshadow the newer characters. Besides, with this approach, the Star Wars narrative has never been stronger. In fact, I firmly believe that this film has the strongest narrative since The Empire Strikes Back. However, there are still a lot of unresolved questions that, to avoid giving away spoilers, I won't mention here in this review. As for the characters themselves, there's a fresh mix of old characters and new characters, all of which blend in really well with each other. It's very refreshing to see the older characters again, but on the hand, I'm far more interested in the newer characters, and what potential they have for the upcoming sequels. In fact, the newer characters tend to outshine the older characters in this film, complete with the introduction a better villain. At the beginning, it can seem like the newer characters are trying to imitate the roles of the previous characters, but as the film progresses, they emerge as brilliant characters worthy of a place alongside the most beloved of the original characters. What helps is that the producers seem to have done a very good job at finding worthy actors to play the newer characters, and it pays off spectacularly well. The film also boasts magnificent, cutting-edge visuals that absolutely dwarf those of the older films. The film also boasts several stunning set pieces and superb special effects, and they work very well with not just the spectacularly choreographed fight scenes, but also the darker the tone of the film as a whole. To be very honest, the only real complaint I have about the film is its use of the old transition wipes, which I would have thought went out of style ages ago. Other than that, it looks as though the force has made a thunderous return, and given that this film is meant to set up the rest of a whole trilogy, I'm very much anticipating what's coming next in what I suspect will be a strong Star Wars trilogy for the next generation.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Does anyone remember The Wizard of Oz, along with its whimsical setting and characters, and catchy musical numbers? If you do, then this "spiritual prequel" will seem all the more shallow. All the charm that the old film had will literally melt before your eyes, washed away in a sea of standardized CGI. Wasting no time, the film starts off as an exercise of pretentious imitation, trying to imitate the style of an old-fashioned nickelodeon screen in some ham-fisted attempt at realism that has little to do with the actual plot at large. Eventually, the screen adjusts to normal size and the film transitions to bright and vivid colours. One immediate problem is that it's impossible root for the hero, if he can be called such. The fact that the Wizard of Oz is being played by the terribly unlikable James Franco is the least of our problems. In this film, the Wizard of Oz is a complete jerk. He's a con artist (like all stage magicians), he's a trashy womaniser, he takes credit for tricks he had pulled off by dumb luck, and on top of that, he's only in it for the money. In one scene where he's in the castle treasury, and when he's asked if he wants to defeat the wicked witch, he accepts, but not before looking at the gleaming pile of gold he'll get. It doesn't help that the actor portraying him is a pretty bad actor, as shown be his passionless and unenthusiastic performance of the main character. The whole cast is filled with talentless hacks, or at best, actors who try to be successful but always get overshadowed by bigger stars. And of course, for all the film's ambition, if it has Zach Braff in it, it's generally not a good sign, though to Zach's credit, his character in the movie showed more lively enthusiasm for the role than James Franco does for his. There were very few characters in the film that didn't make me cringe. It seems to me that a lot more time and effort went into making the film look nice and pretty as opposed to writing something decent. No wonder they couldn't get any good actors for this film. In the film's defence, the visuals in Oz were quite nice, and the special effects were polished, but that's pretty much the only nice thing I can say about this film. The only notably entertaining scene in the whole movie was the climactic final fight. The rest of the movie was two boring hours of bad acting. It's literally The Wizard of Oz through a conventional Hollywood fantasy filter, and the end result is a soulless star vehicle for James Franco. Then again, it would terribly naïve to expect anything good from the same person who made the Spider-Man films, and it's a pretty bizarre turn of events when the Spider-Man movie was an absolute pain to watch, and yet this film is somehow worse. If anything, this film represents a commercialized distortion of fantasy that has somehow become the normal perception of fantasy in the minds of Hollywood producers. If that's not a sign of how bad things are in Hollywood, then I don't know what is.

Mannequin
Mannequin(1987)

If you were looking for a film that encapsulated everything wrong with 1980's pop culture, then you needn't look further. In fact, you only need to look at the poster for the film in order to get some idea of the vanity that it represents, but if you actually watch the film, you'll find that the look is only a small part of the plastic nightmare. Only a minute into the film do things start going hideously wrong. Apparently the premise involves a woman from Ancient Egypt who prays to the gods to escape an unwanted marriage, but this prologue is riddled with anachronisms. The writer clearly didn't do any research, because not only does the film assume that women in ancient Egypt acted the same way they did in 1987, but also that they spoke in English with American accents. Of course, this is because rom-com writers never do any research, and have a collective assumption that the viewers are morons, but the prologue is the least of our problems. After the insultingly stupid prologue, the film treats as to an animated title sequence. It's the same strategy used in the film Grease, and it's just as inefficacious in this film, if not more so because the animation style shown here looks cheap and outdated, and doesn't seem to have any relation with the actual plot of the film. The story itself is a marathon of rom-com clichés, but somehow the film comes across as even creepier version of Splash. The story also makes no logical sense whatsoever, and only seems to raise an uncomfortable number of questions, mainly the question of "why on Earth would anyone be sexually attracted to a mannequin?" That's the central question, and that the writer seems to have no interest in answering that. What follows are the ninety of the most unbearably stupid and unspeakably lousy minutes of movie history, featuring all manner of stock characters, and all the ugliest examples of popular 80's fashion. For a movie made on a moderate budget, the film looks as though the producers used every cheap production trick in the book, even going so low as to use cheap transition wipes throughout the film. The actors themselves weren't all bad, but the dialogue is extremely clumsy, and the script is a bigger joke than the many failed jokes you're bound to find in the film. I'd say that the music was the only tolerable part of the movie, but then again, the kind of music you hear in Mannequin was absurdly common in the 1980's, and I'm beginning to suspect that it was commonly employed in movies of lesser quality, some of which practically survive in the consciousness of public culture only because of the music. Sadly, Mannequin is one of those, but that's the more merciful way of looking at it. This film must have been garbage when it was new, but it's far worse than simply that. It's a soulless product of the brand of committee thinking that dominated the 1980's. It's not just horribly written, it's shoddily produced, and so inanely stupid that it might cause your brain to melt in boredom. However I say it, it's one of the worst movies ever made.

Clash of the Titans

And so the hero marches forward to find a mystical treasure and defeat a great evil save the most beautiful woman in the land. That's essentially the heroic fantasy narrative that is so common that it's become part of the public's perception on fantasy in general. One could make the argument that this sort of thing is redundant, but this film is sort of a guilty pleasure for me. Sure, I usually prefer more original and more high-brow fantasy fare, but I can't really object to this film, and there's a part of me that wants to take it for what it is, if mainly because this was the last film featuring old-fashioned animation from the legendary Ray Harryhausen. The premise of the film is based loosely on Greek mythology, specifically on the myth of Perseus slaying Medusa, one of the more popularly remembered of all Greek myths. In terms of narrative, it's quite predictable. The hero is always this strapping young lad selected by the gods above, and his primary motivation seems to be a typical damsel in distress. Of course, what more can I expect? Back in the time this film was made, producers didn't know how to interpret mythology as any other kind of film. That being said, it's not entirely bad. In fact, I could make the argument that when you watch the film, you pretty much know what you're expecting. Then again, I've always been a sucker for fantasy of all kinds, and there are particularly memorable moments from the film that I still enjoy. I also suppose that the acting isn't too bad, though there aren't a lot of likeable or memorable characters to speak of. Fittingly enough, only the gods of Olympus give particularly good performances in the whole film, while the main protagonist comes across as an unrelatable knight in shining armour at best, and a privileged jerk at worst. The acting often comes across as a little hammy, but it's not too heavy-handed. If I thought it was, I wouldn't even consider watching it again. Even if the film is a little wooden in terms of plot and characters, it definitely succeeds in terms of presentation, despite the somewhat outdated swords-and-sandals approach the film seems to be recalling. The film's exotic set pieces definitely convey the setting, and who could forget the creature effects, courtesy of the inimitable Ray Harryhausen. Of course, by the time the film was released, contemporary advances in special effects would have rendered Harryhausen's techniques obsolete, but had the creatures been designed with computer effects, this film might have been completely boring because it would have just been another CGI film. There's always a kind of charm that stop motion animation has which the computers can't recreate no matter how hard we try today. If anything, this film is an example of how old-fashioned techniques can still be effective. The film itself is a bit silly and occasionally veers towards camp, but it's the little things that give this film its merits as decent entertainment.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Kaze no tani no Naushika)

Ever since I first heard of this film, I wanted to see it for myself, with exceedingly high expectations for a film that had such evocative potential. Now that I've had the good fortune of seeing it, I can say with confidence that didn't disappoint in any way. In fact, I'd say this is one of my favourite films by Hayao Miyazaki, if not my all-time favourite, and there are several reasons why. Right from the beginning, the film's setting evokes the post-apocalyptic blend of sci-fi and fantasy previously explored in Ralph Bakshi's classic film Wizards, and in some ways, the two are quite alike, but there is a significant thematic difference between the two. While Bakshi's Wizards dealt with the divide between nature and technology, Miyazaki's Nausicaa deals with environmental disaster, the value of life, and the futility of war. The story concerns mankind's effort to survive in a world dominated by a vast, poisonous jungle swarming with giant insects, but rather than seeking to destroy the jungle, Nausicaa attempts to understand it, and help mankind to co-exist with it. This is perhaps Miyazaki's thought-provoking subversion of the usual fantasy narrative, where the aim is for the hero to destroy a great evil threatening the land, and this alternative approach is simply brilliant. It's also worth noting that there's no evil to speak of in this film. There are characters with questionable ethics, but no villains. The primary conflict of the film is motivated not by malice, but rather by fear, which begets paranoia, anguish, suffering, and resentment. By walking into the jungle with peaceful intentions and an open mind, Nauiscaa attempts to dispel the myths that fuel violence, hoping that peaceful understanding can heal her community. In a way, this reflects the age-old wisdom of dealing with other creatures - if we don't attack them, they won't attack us. The characters themselves are brilliant and engaging, each with their own defining traits, and in the English dub, boasting some terrific voice acting from a talented cast. Miyazaki films typically excel in terms of visuals, but in that regard, this film easily surpasses the bulk of his work. From beginning to end, the film displays an innovative and compelling visual style that truly gives the sense of a strange world cursed by environmental disaster. The various environments, creature designs, and costume designs are some of the best I've seen in fantasy films, to the point that I kind of envy the artist who drew them all. The last jewel in the crown of the film is the ability to create an immersive atmosphere. The aforementioned visuals help, but I would be remiss if I did not mention the film's music. The electronic compositions echo the style of the time it was made, and they fit the film's tone very well. It also seems to remind me of the old Final Fantasy games, as do some of the costumes. With its compelling characters, brilliant fantasy world, and great narrative heft, this film endures as one of the greatest examples of high fantasy that the silver screen has to offer.

Porco Rosso (Kurenai no buta)

Of all films that emerged from Hayao Miyazaki's illustrious career, only a few of them are particularly well-known in this country's public consciousness, which is quite sad because some of the lesser known films are brilliant (such as The Cat Returns for example). Porco Rosso, while not as good as some of those films, certainly displays its own unique quality. The film itself calls back to the early days of aviation, which, for me, enters the same territory that would later be explored by Miyazaki's swan song The Wind Rises. Perhaps that's because I saw that movie first. However, there are very stark differences between the two. The Wind Rises had a distinctly romantic view of its subject matter, while this film centres on a decidedly more down-to-earth protagonist. In the film, Porco Rosso is presented as a former ace pilot who shoots down pirates for pay, but he is clearly not without a moral compass. In fact, as the film develops, Porco Rosso develops as a multi-faceted character, and a rather likeable one as well, mainly because in spite of being literally and metaphorically a pig, he doesn't act like one in the strictest sense. The plot is quite well told, and you can get the sense of the interactions with the other characters informing Porco's own perspective. However, I feel that the story ended rather abruptly, as though Porco's story hadn't quite finished yet. Instead, the film closes with one of the other characters narrating from her point of view, and we don't even see those events taking place at all. Also, the film never really explains how the main character was cursed to look a pig, why he was cursed to begin, and how he's supposed to lift that curse. It's hinted at, but with no real explanation. Of course, I may just be nitpicking, but those details matter just as much as the substance does. The characters themselves make the film a lively experience, and they certainly give the film a sense of humour on plenty of occasions. The wonderful thing about it is that it's not too serious, but it's not too comical either. The film also seems to be fond of the empowering picture of women at work, with one of the film's central characters eager to prove herself capable. It seems to be a recurring trend in Miyazaki's films, and I think that sends a very positive message compared to the likes of Disney, whose view of women seems stuck in the Victorian age. For the English dub of the film, they picked a spectacular cast, with Michael Keaton (of Beetlejuice fame) providing the voice of the main character. It's a little unrealistic, but I'll let it slide because his acting in this film is quite magnetic. As finessed as the acting are, we can always count on the skill of the animation team at Studio Ghibli, who take animation and turn it into what might as well be fine art, and this comes into good effect with the stylish dogfights that take place throughout the film. It's no classic, but I think it's a real shame that this film is overlooked so often. It's a wonderful film with real character, and even if there are things you could nitpick at, I could easily look past that, especially because the film actually delivers on the sense of freedom, flight and adventure.

Home Alone
Home Alone(1990)

With Christmas just around the corner, it's inevitable that this film always ends up on rotation, as if it's some kind of annual TV tradition. This makes sense, since it's pretty much a quintessential Christmas film, complete with all the dysfunctional family clichés. In a nutshell, it's basically Die Hard for kids, but the different is that Die Hard was awesome, and it simply doesn't work when taken through a family-friendly filter. It's also one of those films that tend to be incredibly easy to oversell. That is to say that most people remember the slapstick, but that's only half of the movie, and often, the slapstick comes across as more flat than the producers intended. Suffice it to say, this film requires quite a lot in the suspension of disbelief department. The film insists that Kevin was left behind by accident, but since the first part of the film is basically a typical argument taking place in a stereotypically dysfunctional family, which ends with Kevin hating pretty much everyone, doesn't it seem like they abandoned him on purpose? Never mind that, how do you sustain a whole franchise on that premise? Immediately, I get the sense that this is more of a kid's movie, and that in its self is somewhat worrying due to the fact that most of the adults here are portrayed as completely unlikable. Another problem is that the dysfunctional family trope is so horribly repetitive even for the time the film was made, and it's almost as though the actual plot of the film was lifted from the desktop of the laziest Hollywood hack. To be fair, the film had a pretty good cast, and at the very least Kevin develops into a more likeable character towards the end. Of course, when you look past the comedic element, it's basically schmaltz, but at least its tasteful schmaltz with good acting behind it. As for the slapstick, it's kind of predictable. But then again, I guess that's because the film was more of a novelty than anything else, but the "filthy animal" gag doesn't seem to have gotten old. Maybe that's why they repeated it so many times. The way the film presents itself is a bit heavy-handed, what with the overuse of orchestral music. I get why the Christmas songs are here, but John Williams' orchestra just seems unwelcome here. We're talking about a Christmas family film, not another Star Wars film. Then again, orchestral music always ruins this sort of film by making it sound bigger than it is. However, the film itself is by no means bad. In fact, it's decent viewing for its intended audience, but it tends to rely very heavily on suspension of disbelief, and it's a gamble which more often than not fails to pay off. Of course, it's not a complete pain to watch, but to make a long story short, let's just say that you'll only really consider watching it when your house is already decorated with fairy lights.

Star Trek Generations

After the previous Star Trek TV series became irrelevant, it was only a matter of time before the TNG series to get their own movies, and sure enough, the producers decided that the first TNG-related film should be a crossover between it and the original series, appealing to the fans' desire to see Captain Kirk and Captain Picard in the same film. But, on top of the general idea of a crossover being quite cheesy, the producers don't seem to have done a very good job of it. You only see Kirk at the beginning and end of the film, and his crew only appear at the beginning. In turn, what you get is more or less in the realm of an extended TNG episode immediately following the series finale, except Generations seems to have quite a bit of difficulty sustaining itself over the course of a feature-length film, despite fine performances from a star-studded cast of likeable, recognizable characters. The main problem perhaps lies in how the film continues the common crossover practice of shoehorning the various characters into a plot that is at best mediocre, but other problems surface as well. The film starts at a pretty slow pace, slower even than the TNG episodes that are split into two parts, and the film itself is quite boring because of the slow pace. Suffice it say, this film is one that's strictly for the diehard Star Trek fans, and I say this because of the film's reliance on franchise clichés. It certainly seems as though, in this film, the franchise that claims to go where no one has gone before is going where the writers have gone so many times before, and that's just plain misleading. On the plus side, the acting, as I mentioned earlier, is quite good, but the script has an overdose of the kind of cryptic, pseudo-scientific jargon that's common in a lot of sci-fi. The film's lead villain isn't particularly impressive. The TNG TV series introduced a number of compelling antagonists, and even ended with Q, perhaps the best villain in the whole Star Trek franchise. By contrast, this film brings the series' two famous starship captains against a mediocre, flash-in-the-pan villain. Granted, Malcolm McDowell plays the antagonistic role particularly well, but his character is the kind that might just have been shoehorned into the film just for the sake of engineering a stable plot for a rudderless crossover. I sound as though I absolutely hate this film, but I don't. At the very least the film delivers in terms of sci-fi spectacle, albeit in continuation of the CGI trend that continued dominating blockbuster cinema. The visuals and set pieces are very finely made, and the film's slick production techniques at least keep things afloat when the action happens. However, I still think that this film would have been dead in the water without the cast of the TV show upon which it is based. The film's main strength is that it has a built-in audience of Trekkies it can appeal to, but unfortunately, it doesn't do much to appeal to a broader audience, and that is ultimately the biggest weakness of a film that isn't as bad as I can make it seem.

Spectre
Spectre(2015)
½

I felt some negative reactions when I heard this film was coming out. Not only was I certain that Daniel Craig is the worst man to play James Bond, but also that the Bond franchise is a decaying relic of a new irrelevant age (as was best summed up by Judi Dench twenty years ago). Eventually, I decided to put that cynicism aside, if only for a while, in order to give this film a fair chance. After all, I'm fairly certain that this may very well be the last film in which Daniel Craig even plays the main character, so it might be worth it to see him bow out gracefully. After sitting through all 150 minutes of the film, I came to a rather startling conclusion, that Spectre is perhaps the only good film to come out during Daniel Craig's tenure. Given that we tend to have our preferences, allow me to make my case. Before I saw Spectre, I thought it was going to be little more than a campy, bloated throwback to the 60's. To my surprise, despite the plentiful use of the Bond theme as a leitmotif, this is perhaps the least campy Bond film in quite a while. In fact, this film found the balanced approach that the previous three films in the series failed to do. Given the film's unusually long runtime, it's actually quite bizarre that it managed to stay afloat long enough to fit all the pieces of the previous films together, leading up to a thrilling and satisfying conclusion that ties up all the loose ends. As for Bond himself, he seems much colder than he does in the other films, but I find that in Spectre, he's more of an interesting, multi-faceted character than he ever was in twenty years. I may not like him, but at least he does a good job this time. Yes, he is an outdated character, but at least there's no glossing over it this time. The other characters stand out like flying colours, with the kind of fine acting that has been missing from the series for far too long. Whether or not you cared about the story, the characters, or the acting, you may very well have been impressed by the way the film presents itself with its crisp visuals, special effects, and awestriking set pieces, and for once, the gunplay and fist-fighting were quite a spectacle as well, and without an overabundance of silly toys to ruin it all. All in all, I'd say the producers were really trying this time. It may not be the best Bond film, but it certainly managed to give at least one last breath of life into a decrepit brand. If, for the sale of argument, this is to be Daniel Craig's last outing as Bond, then I can at least say he ended his tenure on a high note. It took twenty years, but I think the Bond franchise may have finally shaken off the spectre of camp that has dogged the franchise for so very long, even though it tends to lean on the established formula.

The Matrix Revolutions

The Matrix and its subsequent franchise had already aged quite badly by the time this film was made. This clearly rushed and badly constructed sequel is essentially the Wachowski brothers' way of gilding the lily before it was too late to rub it in our faces. The film attempts a more action-oriented approach, but is ultimately bogged down in a plodding two-hour plot that begs to be trimmed down to ninety minutes. On top of that, the writers introduced an array of new characters that not only did not need to be added, but also did nothing to enhance the film's narrative whatsoever. By far the worst part of the story was that while trying to answer some of the questions left behind by the previous film, it ended up raising more questions than it answered thanks to an utterly nonsensical ending that doesn't really make it clear who won in the film's universe. The characters don't do anything that keeps you paying attention to the film as it limps through a sea of special effects, and even the acting seems like it got worse, either that or the script was simply awful. In any case, it was a terrible waste of reasonably good actors. The special effects are alright, and definitely on par with the previous film, but it's all just salad dressing, and the problem is that this film is too much CGI and not enough substance. Suffice it to say, this was a poor way of ending what could have been a really good trilogy of films, and I think the main problem is that they rushed the film (which was being produced alongside its predecessor). Had they put more time and effort into polishing the film, and waited another year to release it, there's a chance that it might have been better, but it still wouldn't have changed that it's impossible to take The Matrix seriously anymore, especially after they continue to wear out the damned bullet time effect to near death.

The Jerk
The Jerk(1979)

Comedy is a very sensitive thing, in that if it doesn't make you laugh, it's absolutely worthless. Thankfully, this film manages to deliver in terms of off-the-wall laughs with generally few exceptions. The film's premise is rather sketchy, and it certainly lags a bit at the beginning, but this is overcome with a solid script, and what follows is a well-played rags-to-riches story that sends up some of the more obvious clichés of that age-old narrative, almost to the point of it being self-aware of the thing it's poking fun at. The acting is pretty good, or at least good enough that Steve Martin makes for a very convincing moron, and an annoying one too. Many of the supporting characters have their own quirks, including the insane sniper (turned private detective), the butler, the unfortunately named dog, and the main character's entire adoptive family, and although they don't always perform well in the film, they are a pretty entertaining ensemble on their own. Somehow I had the assumption that a lot of comedies from this film's era would look pretty cheap, but this one had really good production values for a film of such a modestly low budget, although I can't remember when that was important in a comedy film. Besides, with a laugh-ridden script, this film could go a long way despite a shaky start. It is pretty odd that they decided to give the film a somewhat obligatory happy ending, but at the very least it wasn't particularly ham-fisted. Despite its flaws, you can count on it delivering a simple-minded yet sophisticated slice of comic cinema.

A History of Violence
½

This film takes an interesting approach to say the least. It revolves around a man who kills two robbers in self-defence, but rather than purely lionizing the act of vigilante justice, the film engages in a deeper exploration of the mind of the character, allowing the viewer to judge for oneself the morality of violence. If you've seen any of the films made by David Cronenberg before this, then you probably would not have expected it, given the director's history with body horror, but it's a surprisingly well-executed piece of dramatic fare. My main problem, however, is that the story plods for a little bit at the beginning before we get to the big picture. Looking past that, however, there's something to be acting. The actors appear to be taking their characters very seriously, and that's very important in drama, because you can't expect to take characters seriously if the actors don't. I feel that the main character is worth particular mention, primarily because he seems to convey the kind of balance of outward calm and inward rage that a film like this would suffer without. The key strength of the film appears to be that it relies on its character rather than plot or appearances. That being said, however, it is a very well-produced film in terms of production values. Overall, I'd say it's a very fresh and straightforward film, with no cheesy effects, no brainless jingles, and no padding.

Spies Like Us

I was hoping this would be somewhat decent, but it turns out the director is only occasionally good at what he does. Spies Like Us is a case of the director and the cast resting on the laurels of their previous successes and assuming that the same approach will consistently work again and again, but the problem here is that the film seems horribly rushed. It was made in the same time as Rocky IV, during a time where everybody thought Russia was the big bad wolf. Sure enough, much of the clichés of the Cold War are prevalent here, where they're taken into comedic context, except for the fact that the jokes don't work at all, either because they're outdated or because they simply weren't funny. That in itself seems somewhat odd when you consider that many of the people involved have done a good job in previous films. For example, Dan Aykroyd was amazing in Trading Places and Ghostbusters, but somehow he can't make it work in this film. Am I the only one who thinks that's slightly odd? The story is a completely stupid concept. It revolves around sending two incompetent boobs as proxies just because the military didn't want to send talented officers. That should be a funny plot, but it's not very believable, and the film does a very poor job at hiding this. As for the acting, there's quite a lot of overacting, and it's painfully apparent that nobody who was involved had any enthusiasm for the film at all. On the whole, it seems as though the film-makers were cutting corners everywhere, even when it comes to the look of the film. This was made in 1985, and yet it looks as though they used the cameras they used for National Lampoon's Animal House. Perhaps that is rather fitting, considering that this is clearly one of those films that nobody wanted, and yet somebody decided that it still had to be made. Either way, Spies Like Us was simply awful, both as a comedy film and as a star vehicle.

Escape from New York

This film seems to be a bleak fusion of a spaghetti western and a Mad Max-style action film, all garnished with a bleak urban atmosphere, and it works on a number of levels. Of course, the story might sound a little less believable nowadays, but in a time where New York was still considered to be a crime-ridden metropolis, this would have been rather poignant. The story itself still works on one key level, the fact that the protagonist, Snake Plissken, is reluctant to go in and do what he does, taking it upon himself purely because he's coerced into doing it, perhaps the perfect antidote to the old cliché of heroism for its own sake. Rather than just shooting his way in, Snake explores his environment, making his way with care, but he's still armed to the hilt and could strike back at danger. In essence, Snake represents a more balanced approach to the action hero, and certainly a better kind of character than the kind of action hero that film producers would eventually start creating. It's such a shame that too many of the other characters fail to be very interesting, because the acting is actually very good. In a rare occurrence for the action genre, the film seems to specialize in the way it presented itself. Of course it opens with that classic theme song, but it also sports a fittingly gloomy visual style, and takes advantage of some very nifty 3D wireframe effects. The only problem with its presentation, however, is that it's only relevant for the first quarter of the film. I also think the film should have been longer and should have made more use of the futuristic element implied by the wireframe segments. Granted, there's nothing wrong with the approach John Carpenter went for, but there was plenty of room to do much more, and that's the biggest way the film might disappoint. Other than that, it's a very entertaining film that certainly manages to deliver a unique and fulfilling cinematic experience.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I very used to the majority of horror films failing to deliver on thrills, so when this film came along and delivered the jolt of a lifetime, I was very much taken aback, fully realizing that this film was doing what so many other horror flicks failed to do, namely providing convincing horror thrills that keep your eyes firmly on the screen. Granted, much of it is visceral shock horror, but it's one of the few slasher films that has a brain, with its central premise revolving around the idea of toying with the audience's perception of reality by transgressing the boundaries of what is a dream and what isn't. Because of the way the concept is executed here in the film, this makes for some totally chilling moments, and also for some convincing drama as the heroine tries in vain to warn the outside world of the horrors of the dream world becoming horribly real. Of course, many people remember the film for introducing a modern horror icon in the form of Freddy Krueger, and his place in horror is well-earned, thanks not just to his distinguishing appearance, but also because he's a genuinely creepy horror villain, and there seems to be no end to him in the film's events. However, if there's one criticism I have is that there's not much explanation behind how the character came back from the dead, and even less explanation for the ending. Nonetheless, it continues to stand above most other horror films by virtue of not just its highly original premise, but also because it's still one of the most frightening horror films out there, and one of the few that actually delivers on its promise.

Crimson Peak
Crimson Peak(2015)

In a climate of viscerally gory horror films made purely for shock value, it's very rare to see a film that embodies a more subtle approach to horror, and it's even rarer to see a film of such visual and atmospheric splendour. Crimson Peak is very much an old-fashioned gothic horror tale woven onto the silver screen. Indeed, this is essentially Guillermo del Toro's love letter to gothic horror literature, complete with the period setting and characters, romance with sinister overtones, and the grand yet decaying ancestral house in an ominously beautiful landscape. Of course, the first quarter of the film tends to meander a bit with the inevitable frivolity that comes with the film's setting, but as the film progresses and the plot thickens, the context behind everything that came at the beginning soon becomes clear. The intricately woven story of ghosts, romance and murder is formed so well that by the end, you're left hungry for more. The film also shows some classy performances from a charming cast of characters, and the best of these performances came from Tom Hiddleston, whose character exudes a mysterious mix of romantic charm, sinister motive, and a guilt-riddled conscience. He's the kind of character who feels chained down by his family name, primarily because to preserve it, he has to do awful things that, as evidenced later on in the film, he doesn't appear to care much about, and this multi-faceted character is ultimately the film's real star. As one could expect from Guillermo del Toro's work, the film's visuals are fantastic, and it gets even better as the film's setting slowly moves towards winter. On the whole, the amazing set-pieces, locations, and chilling atmosphere make up the film's crown jewels, and it is especially the film's atmosphere that sets the tone for a quite bone-chilling experience. Though it's no classic, it's a real tour de force, and it's certainly a cut above the other horror films in the market.

Nosferatu, a Symphony of Horror (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) (Nosferatu the Vampire)
½

There's a funny thing about these so-called "classic films". It's the kind of film that everyone wants to have seen but nobody wants to see for themselves. In the case of Nosferatu, it's really not as great as the critics would like the casual viewer to believe, and that's primarily due to the silent film itself being an outdated medium, but if you're looking for some artistic fare, you will certainly find it here in this unique adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Set earlier in the past than its literary counterpart, the story takes quite a few different turns, including the idea that the villagers believe the vampire to be some sort of plague, which I found to be a very interesting angle for the character. The film itself conveys a chillingly spooky atmosphere, although I always thought the silence was somewhat jarring. As a horror movie, it's not quite as good as it might have been decades ago, but it's still something of an artistic spectacle, best enjoyed for what it is rather than what it was, and I found it to be a flawed but whimsical cinematic experience.

The Matrix Reloaded

What always baffled me the most about this film was that it took so long after the first film to release this film. By 2003, the style, attitude, and philosophy of The Matrix weren't quite as relevant as they used to be. Granted, the film itself is almost as edgy as its predecessor, and it definitely raised the bar in terms of style, visual effects, and fast-paced action. The main problem with this film is that it tried focusing very heavily on the story but left a lot of unanswered questions. I don't really have a problem with exposition, but having too much expository dialogue can be problematic. In fact, if there are too many scenes spent on exposition, then that tends to work against the narrative because the viewer might lose his or her place while trying to follow the already complex story in the broader universe The Matrix is set in. The acting is alright, though only a few of the additional characters add anything of note to the narrative, and plenty of the film is spent on events and characters of little consequence to the story. For what it's worth, this awkwardly paced action sequel was a solid attempt to rectify some of the faults of the previous film, but it came way too late, and ended up leaving more questions than it answered.

Nighthawks
Nighthawks(1981)

This buddy cop feature appears to be banking on Rambo and Lando making for good leads, and although this isn't a very original film, it works as an action film that isn't completely mindless. To be honest, the film does seem like it might have been a bit retrograde for its time (it often comes across as a mid-70's film despite it being made in 1981), though I never thought of that as necessarily a bad thing. As one could expect from almost any action film, the film's story isn't much, but at the very least it works. The acting is pretty good, and there's quite a bit more personality flourishing in the film's cast than I thought there would be. One scene in the film shows Stallone's character arguing with the lead inspector over violence the nature of the police officer in a near complete reversal of the Dirty Harry scenario, where the main character's superior is the one who's eager to resort to violence. The film's overall style is a bit like watching an episode of Kojak if the production values were upgraded significantly, complete with the funky soundtrack and somewhat bleak city look. Although it's not quite as much action scenes as it might have needed, it's an effective action-thriller that, at the very least, passes as pure entertainment.

Ben-Hur
Ben-Hur(1959)

This film is one of a handful of fine examples of the "epic film" when it's well-made. Of course, the story does suffer from a few problems regards its slow pace and unevenness because of its monstrous three-and-a-half-hour runtime, but it's not without substance. The film is essentially a long trip of betrayal, suffering, revenge and redemption amidst the backdrop of the Biblical setting of Jesus' story, though the stories of Jesus and Ben-Hur rarely overlap (despite this being subtitled "A Tale of the Christ"). Of course, the thing that really elevates the film is its magnificent acting and dialogue, which makes for some compelling performances that stand out throughout this very long feature presentation. The sheer scope and visual grandeur are another sight to behold, but they only make up a fraction of the film's actual substance. Grandeur alone does not make an epic film. In fact, this film is mainly kept afloat because of its raw, compelling drama, which is much stronger as the film reaches its climax. It does tend to go off on its own tangent, but it's pure, unadulterated entertainment, well worth the massive length, and by those merits it continues to stand tall and mighty amongst many of its fossilized contemporaries of the age.

Carrie
Carrie(1976)

Carrie is another horror film that seems to have been good for its time but has since been ravaged by the ages, but in the case of this film, it's not as bad as it could have been. As good as it tried to be, however, it's not as good as critics might claim it to be. In my opinion, the main problem is that it attempts to be a blend of horror and teen drama, but it ends up being little more than a vapid teen drama with a bizarre horror scenario grafted onto it. That being said, the writers managed to do quite a bit with the supernatural horror element, mainly because they've given context to the obvious anger represented by the main character's telekinetic fits. A big criticism I have about the story is that it spends way too much time on the teen drama element, and to bad effect. This part of the story gets drawn out so much that it's practically boring, and this is especially a problem in the film's obligatory prom scene, which is drawn out longer than anything else in the movie. I get that the film is meant to be a supernatural portrayal of teen angst and high school cruelty, but it's not exactly a very convincing film, and the acting doesn't help. In fairness, the direction the film-makers went with isn't too bad, but it would probably have done far better if it weren't billed as a horror movie.

Uncle Buck
Uncle Buck(1989)

As much as I dislike John Hughes for what he stands for, this film was quite something. I can understand why someone would want to make a TV show out of it, it sounds like a solid concept for an American TV show. It's a shame that it could only work on the silver screen. The story is surprisingly well-written, although I find it's very easy for one particular character to steal the show. In this case, John Candy's character is the highlight of the movie, and for all the right reasons. He may be irresponsible, and he may be a bit crass at times, but when he wants to be, he's a very entertaining character. This film would be incredibly bland and typical if the character it was named after weren't incredibly funny. The acting is also really good, with the main cast delivering some convincing performances from left and right, and the characters that matter are a joy to watch. The film's production values are also worth mentioning. Maybe it's just that I have a thing for the film's autumn aesthetic (apparently that's when the film was set), but I thought it looked really good, and the soundtrack was pretty good too. However, none of that should matter compared to whether it made me laugh, and thankfully, it did. Whatever my reasons, Uncle Buck is a movie that I consistently enjoy whenever I happen to watch it. If you haven't seen it before, I would personally recommend this film, even if its director was a bit of an overrated hack.

Quantum of Solace

As strange as it sounds, I'm willing to contend that this is perhaps the only watchable Bond film with Daniel Craig, and I say that because so far, this is the only one of the films featuring him that didn't make me want to cringe shortly after I started watching it. Unlike the previous film, which was far less careful in application of its overly gritty "post-Bourne" approach, this film was less tedious, with the total runtime being around 40 minutes shorter (in fact, this is the shortest film in the whole series). This was a significant improvement because it meant the pacing was faster and the action scenes were a bit more seamless. Sadly, this is the last Bond film to date that has this straightforward approach. Bond himself hasn't improved much as a character, but at the very least he actually gets the job done this time. The other characters are alright, and the acting is pretty good, even if the characters themselves tend to be uninteresting at times. This film certainly had a better sense of style than Casino Royale, and while it continued the gritty trend, it's definitely brighter than last time, which is a step up compared to the previous film's colour palette. The last major improvement is the film's focus on action. In the film, Bond is a bit more trigger-happy than usual (which fits because he's trying to avenge the death of his lover), and this translates into a film that goes in a more action-oriented direction, which I think is something the Bond franchise desperately needs. Quantum of Solace presented a flawed, yet interesting direction for the franchise, but it's not a particularly stellar film by its own merits, and it's a pretty sorry state of affairs for the Bond franchise when a relatively average film is the high point of Daniel Craig's time in the franchise.

The Omen
The Omen(1976)
½

Though the film is not without its sense of style, it's one of those horror movies that people say is one of the greatest, but when I actually watch it, I find it to have aged badly. The Omen does little other than ride its "son of Satan" premise, and while it might have been somewhat original four decades ago, I've seen the concept delivered better in other areas of popular culture, and so this film really doesn't seem that spectacular. What didn't help was the film's bad writing, which combined the tedium of events that happen out of nowhere without explanation, with a penchant for haphazardly assembling various clichés that are more of a sign of poor research than artistic license. The characters were quite well-acted, but they don't really do much for me, in that they don't make the film any less dull. In fact, the delivery of some of the characters was so dull that it was like a blind swordsman swinging a rusty blade. The production values are nice, and the soundtrack is just right for the mood, but to me it comes across as a horror movie without thrills. That would be like if I saw an advertisement for ludicrously spicy chicken wings, and they tasted like cold turkey. It would be very disappointing, just like this dull as dishwater horror film which, though it has a few moments of shock and awe, doesn't really offer much to write about.

Pretty in Pink

Pretty in Pink perhaps illustrates why I hate the teen movie genre. The main characters act like immature brats who know nothing about the world outside high school romance, and if you hated Jon Cryer's character in Two and a Half Men before seeing this, his character in this film is no better. Some have referred to this film as essentially the Brat Pack take on Cinderella, but such an assessment couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, if it is Cinderella, then it's passed through a typically obnoxious John Hughes filter. The writing is quite hackneyed, but then again, what more could I expect from a typical 80's teen movie? In this regard, the film's main problem is that the characters are very unconvincing. I fail to see how a rich boy would even be remotely interested in a poor girl like the one played by Molly Ringwald (to be fair, pretty much everyone went after her back in the day). To be fair, the film does have good production values and an even better selection of music, but that doesn't make up for a teen "comedy" with no laughs whatsoever. If it was funny back then, then it must have aged terribly, like most films of the genre. The teen movie itself may as well be a leprous neanderthal limping as it clings hopelessly to life, as illustrated unfailingly by not only this movie, but also John Hughes' many copycats. To be fair, there are films like it that are actually good, but this film is little more than a badly aged and embarrassingly dated relic the 80's.

The Adventures of Mark Twain
½

This particular film is quite a rare find indeed. Despite that it can sometimes seem corny in terms of its character, it's a genuinely fascinating film that, I think, could appeal to a very wide and diverse audience. The film's central concept is a very interesting one, weaving a literal narrative from a famous quote by the eponymous author, which ends with him remarking that he and Halley's Comet "came in together, and must go out together" (the film's British title makes a bit of sense with this context in mind). The actual story is essentially an anthology film consisting of vignettes based on the works of Mark Twain. For those who don't know of it, it's a good way of getting introduced to it, although I should point out that these are very surreal adaptations. In a way, this film is a good example of the magic of animation - it allows a film-maker to lend the story he or she is trying to tell an artistic identity of its own, and nowhere in the film is this illustrated better than in the "Mysterious Stranger" segment, where Satan himself illustrates his view of mankind by animating clay figures and then destroying them with war and disaster. The voice acting is a little bit corny, but I can't really fault the characters for anything in particular. In fact, the voice acting for Mark Twain is highly charming and witty. The film definitely deserves an award for its eye-popping animation, courtesy of the man who gave us the California Raisins. The film is an undoubtedly surreal adventure of literature and philosophy, and a very entertaining mix of those areas. It's not often that we're treated to films like this, and unfortunately, it's unlikely that we'll see this kind of again for many years to come.

I Am
I Am(2011)
½

Although there is something to be said about Tom Shadyac's earnest conviction, he's no better a director when he's making documentaries than he is making lowbrow comedy films. The pretentiously titled "I Am" is little more than a hopeless vanity film masquerading as activism, and the main problem is that it dabbles in dubious social and scientific ideas without going the extra mile to prove them logically. I actually researched and contemplated the film's ideas, and found them to be utter nonsense. After all, if all it took to fix the world was for us to love each other unconditionally, then why is the world still troubled despite the innate capability of unconditional love in human beings? Humans are not without love, and yet there is still violence, greed, and ignorance plaguing mankind. I wonder if the director has an answer for that beyond the jaded hippie slogans that I've come to expect from a clearly privileged Hollywood director. The film also goes out of its way to demonize competition and self-interest, even though competition and self-interest are just as natural and integral to human existence as love and co-operation. In fact, the film's director spent so much time preaching about love and co-operation that he forgot about the fact that competition and self-interest have always been the driving forces of human progress. If someone didn't decide they wanted something better than what we already have, then modern society, along with everything we take for granted, would simply not exist. If that wasn't a bitter enough pill to swallow, the film goes through contortions to preach that we as humans are actually an interconnected whole, using dubious science and questionable logic to reinforce what is ultimately a tired, unproven dogma that is typical of so many Hollywood morons. To be fair, the film does ask some fine questions that are worthy of consideration and perhaps debate, but why on Earth should I trust them with the director of "Bruce Almighty" and "The Nutty Professor"? Furthermore, however honest the director is trying to be, how can I trust someone who clearly went for the rosiest sounding conclusion, and didn't bother researching his ideas properly? Worse still, he failed to provide a rational counterargument, choosing instead to appropriate any quote, interview, or slick film-making technique to validate his argument. Consequently, what we're left with is a sentimental assemblage of stock footage and weapons-grade hogwash. In turn, Tom Shadyac ends up sounding more like Robert Tilton on Ritalin, and I say that because the clearly proselytizing agenda of the film is no different to that of the right-wing evangelical Christians. That in itself is something I find ironic because the film goes on and on about the evils of a consumerist society in such a stereotypically heavy-handed left-wing manner, but it ultimately wallows in the same narrative that created the kind of world that, supposedly, is the problem to begin with. It's too bad that Mr. Shadyac doesn't realize that the world is far more complex and sophisticated than such buzzwords as "love" and "greed". Had he researched his ideas properly and looked for both sides of his central argument, this could have been a genuinely thought-provoking examination of the human condition, perhaps with the potential to spark real debate. Instead, we have a barely intelligent, ham-fisted sermon orated by someone who ultimately comes across as yet another demagogue.

Witchboard
Witchboard(1986)
½

It would be rather convenient to think of this as like the film Ouija if you could actually stand to watch it, but you'd be getting hopes up way too much if you did. Witchboard is one of those films that sounds better at the start, but gets stupider as it progresses. The story itself can be taken a grain of salt (if mainly because it isn't too heavy-handed with its gimmicky concept), but what I don't like is that the writers introduce a character you might like, and a character you won't like, but kill off the better character while giving the stereotypical jerk a happy ending. That's not the only stupid decision the writers made, but it's certainly the most egregious one. The film's concept does get slightly more interesting after we're given a little more exposition into how communicating with the spirits is supposed to work, but it's quickly undone by a hackneyed fight scene, and an even stupider ending, complete with a blatant sequel hook that you may as well expect from a horror film. Of course, there are moments when the film creates something close to a legitimately spooky atmosphere, but the experience is ultimately soiled by a flimsily-written premise, questionable casting, and even worse acting.

8 1/2
8 1/2(1963)

This is one of those films that wouldn't sound like it would have any appeal unless you knew about the film's director, Frederico Fellini. I would, however, recommend this for anyone with a keen interest in film, since this film takes into the world of a director, along with his storied past. Of course, being that this came out in the early 60's, this is in black and white, but this might work to the film's favour rather than to its disadvantage. Call me pretentious if you will, but I find that there's something classy about the black and white look from older films that's lost when newer films try to emulate it. As for the story, it might meander a bit, but it does offer some real drama, and some good performances from the cast. Parts of the film really look like they offered a glimpse into a bleak past (I refer specifically to the scene where Catholic priests are shown shaming the young Guido of the film). It certainly has plenty of artistic merits, as biography and metaphor come together in a carnival of the soul.

Vierges et vampires (Requiem for a Vampire)
½

As soon as you hear of this movie, you'll most likely be drawn in by sex appeal. If you focus on the actual substance of the film, you'll find that the film itself isn't completely bad. If anything, the only thing that's totally bad about the film is that there's no real explanation for what's going on. Only if you happen to have subtitles or understand French can you understand the dialogue, though I must commend the filmmaker for doing more with less dialogue between the characters. It seems weird, but I think the film is more atmospheric and more entertaining with less dialogue that could potentially come off as hackneyed. I was almost expecting the whole film to be silent, but thankfully that turned out not to be the case, otherwise nothing would make any sense in any language. For me, the film's obvious strength is its well-constructed gothic atmosphere, which actually benefits from the lack of dialogue present in the film. The music in the film also gives the film a certain vibe that makes the whole experience much better. To be honest, I was initially worried that this film would be more pornography than movie, but it turned out to be more of a silly horror flick than pornography. Obviously the director intended it to be a rather erotic film, and depending on your tastes, he may or may not have accomplished that. As a horror film, it's better than I thought it would be. Yes, it seems a bit like a lurid, dream-like gothic fairy tale, but that's why I'd certainly watch it again if given the chance.

The Matrix
The Matrix(1999)
½

For its time, it was quite a big deal, and although it has now lost its edge, it can still be taken for what it is; a sleek, imaginative, and existential cyberpunk affair draped in black and lined with lead. The film's central premise may be somewhat questionable, and the narrative is one that tends to try and fill your head with dubious ideas, but the film's mythology remains an interesting one, with its broad philosophical themes. The characters are also quite interesting, and the performances are good too, despite my conviction that Keanu Reeves isn't that great an actor. If I must criticize anything about the acting, it's that the three main characters often seem to speak too softly. The film clearly has nice sense of style, with thematically consistent visuals and costumes. Of course today the film is most famous for the damned "bullet-time" effect, which had since been copied by anyone looking to make a fast buck in the few years after this film came along. Nowadays, the film's special effects aren't that special, but for its time, it was one of the reasons why the film was such a groundbreaking phenomenon to begin with. Even though the fight scenes can be seen as mainly special effects, they are in fact so well choreographed that it doesn't matter how much trickery is involved. You can sit back and watch the action unfold and you'll probably enjoy it no matter what, which is more of a sign of good film-making than anything else. It may not be as highly relevant today as it was back in 1999, but it's still a good film to watch, as long as you don't mind some of its quirkier ideas, and with all certainty, it's one of the only two good films the Wachowski Brothers have ever made.

Team America: World Police

Although the past decade has rendered its subject matter somewhat outdated, it's still an outrageously hilarious and innovative comedy film. The film itself is mostly famous for what I called the whole "South Park meets Thunderbirds on drugs" approach, wherein all characters and celebrities are played by square-jawed marionettes, and it's funnier than most of the newer South Park episodes that were being produced. Perhaps the film's director invested more time and energy into one project rather than the other, but that's beside the point. The plot is a little thin, but to fair, that's not supposed to be the film's strength to begin with. The same could be said about the characters, but the script is really good. The characters work very well primarily because they're blatant caricatures. They're essentially the tools for unflinching satire of both serious world events (as they were over a decade ago) and ridiculous action film clichés. In fact, it's this absurd silliness and gleeful action, however crude it may seem, that manages to erase the film's weaknesses. Without it, Team America simply wouldn't have worked.

Burlesque
Burlesque(2010)

If you were a teenager watching this film purely for sex appeal, you will be sorely disappointed. Burlesque is the cinematic equivalent of plastic surgery, in that it's far uglier than people tend to think it is. As the story, I don't quite know what to say about it, other than it's a terribly clichéd musical plot. There really isn't much of a story because the film drowns itself in a sea of poor man's porn and terrible pop musical numbers. The characters are all horrible to watch, and that's primarily because of terribly obnoxious performances and an atrociously bad script. I also find it impossible to take any of the characters, or the setting seriously, and the film does a very poor attempt at selling its cheesy concept. The way the film presents itself is as painful to the eyes as a celebrity with too much makeup and cosmetic surgery. It's obviously trying for old-fashioned glamour in a modern context, but it fails miserably because it simply doesn't work. All in all, it's less like a film and more like a two-hour music video for Cher. Either way, this unbearably dated and extremely campy film is a waste of your precious time.

The Five Man Army (Un esercito di 5 uomini)
½

It should stand to reason that a film with a title like "The Five Man Army" would seem like a riotously entertaining action romp. However, what we get instead is a sub-par spaghetti Western with some of the clichés that came to embarrass the genre in its later years. The film does start in a somewhat promising manner, but it quickly went south from there on out, languishing in a slowly paced plot that seems to be devoid of energy or imagination. The characters are competently played, but they seem really bland, to the point that they even dress almost alike. On top of that, there's no real reason for me to care about the characters, probably because the whole film is more boring than anything else. It's like watching an extended episode of an old TV Western show. At the very least it delivers in terms of action, but it's only just enough for what has turned out to be a decidedly standard Western. I'd recommend this film only to any cowboy film fans who aren't particularly picky over what they watch. Otherwise, prepare to be disappointed and bored.

Superman II
Superman II(1981)

As far as cinematic adaptations of comic book characters go, Superman comes across as a superhero who's only good in one film, but then slowly descends to the realm of bloated self-parody. Thankfully, in this film, he hasn't reached that point yet, but Superman II is ultimately inferior to its predecessor, primarily due to the fact that it seems like a campier rehash of that film. In all honesty, I think the plot suffered because the writers tried to focus on Superman's relationship with Lois Lane. At this point, I'm probably going to sound like the only person around here that doesn't care for that character, but I find Lois Lane to be a very bland character with little personality, and I can't escape the feeling that she only seems to be holding Superman back. The stupidest part of the plot is where Superman apparently relinquishes his powers so he could be with Lois. If you were a superhuman who could get whatever you wanted, shouldn't it stand to reason that you wouldn't have to sacrifice your powers just to spend time with the woman you loved? Whatever the intent was, it makes even less sense when Superman somehow gets his powers back, thereby undoing the point of having lost them to begin with. The characters themselves aren't too bad, but that's mainly because of their performances. The acting is pretty good, although it tend to run the risk of hamming it up on occasion. The special effects, once again, are really good, but unlike in its predecessor, it seems as though the special effects here haven't aged as well, mainly because the producers used the exact same approach. I've lost count of how many sequels have suffered purely because the producers committed the crime of wearing out the same approach repeatedly. Lastly, the fight scenes seem more like ridiculous slapstick than comic book action, not that it matters since they're all laden with CGI anyway. Though it's not a bad film by any means, it's not as good as people tend to think. It's essentially a mindless, repetitive follow-up to the original Superman film, but at the very least it's a competently made sequel.

Black Sunday
Black Sunday(1960)
½

Over five decades ago, this might have been legitimately unsettling. However, this is an example of an old horror film that has aged terribly. Today, the film comes across as incredibly cheesy and cliché-ridden, and to be completely fair, I think this is because of the plethora of similar films I've seen that have come after this film, and this film was barely any different to those films. The film's story was alright, but it could have been far more engaging. Again, the writing might have been good in another time, but time has not been kind to this movie. The characters are nothing special, but the acting is bland and unappealing. I shouldn't really have much to say on the visuals, since the film is in black and white, but that's the thing. Black and white films have rarely been interesting to anyone who has the colour option. Suffice it to say, this is a film that might have been good at some point in time, but today, it's an ultimately boring and dated horror flick with a slow and gimmicky plot.

Kiki's Delivery Service
½

Every now and then, you come across a film that stands out as a truly imaginative work of art in its right, and this film is exactly that kind of film. It charts a young girl's journey to through adolescence in a city that seems very strange and unwelcoming at first. Come to think of it, the city in this film represents a lot of things. The city is perhaps the best possible metaphor for adolescence, in that it seems exciting at first, then it smacks you around in every possible way until you learn to overcome it. I also find it rather interesting that the producers opted to incorporate witches into the film. At first that might seem abstract, but it suddenly makes sense when Kiki's magical powers begin to wane. At that point, it becomes very clear that in this film, magic is a metaphor for one's spirit and zest for life. In my view, her loss of magic seems to be a metaphor for the weight of the world crushing her spirit, but when she is given a reason to act, she eventually gains her powers back as her confidence is restored, and this to me is a definitive point in the film because it represents her will overcoming despair, and that made the ending all the more satisfying and meaningful. All the characters in the movie are endearing in their own way, though Kiki herself stands out as a very unique heroine. She's naïve and inexperienced, but she exudes the kind of independent spirit that I feel Hollywood's contemporary representation of women lacks. Lastly, I should comment on the animation. This film has some of the best animation in movie history, and it has such an exquisite visual quality that it outclasses several Disney films. I'm very confident that this heart-warming and beautifully crafted film is sure to win over viewers of all ages.

Bram Stoker's Dracula
½

For a few decades prior to this film's arrival, the name Dracula had become associated with a campy, dated horror icon left bereft of his finest traits. This film sought to break away from the stereotypical conventions, and Francis Ford Coppola's interpretation of Dracula is a very interesting, if somewhat bloated take on the character and mythos of Dracula. The story is pretty good, and I like that the film incorporates Dracula's origin story without it taking up half the movie, but the film itself suffers from slow pacing which tends to suck the life out of what could have been a classic film narrative. It would have done better if we didn't spend too much time in one place. On the plus side, the performances are really good, and the characters really pull through by the end, though I'm disappointed by Dracula's portrayal in the film. He seemed way too quiet, and in this film he looks completely ridiculous, mainly because of his weird puffy hair. All that aside, the film also has quite a bit of visual clout, with a realized gothic setting that complements the film's tale of doomed love, as well as the overall tone that the producers were aiming for to begin with. For all the film's flaws, it at least rescues Dracula from years of campy interpretations created the hands of sleazy horror producers, and though it doesn't deliver on all of its promises, it at least delivers on what counts.

Logan's Run
Logan's Run(1976)

Before the advent of Star Wars, many sci-fi films were far-out and often cerebral in terms of their central concepts. They were also much slower in pace, and had a generally colder atmosphere. Sometimes this approach worked, but other times it failed. On that note, this film is plagued by some of the more pretentious clichés of early 70's sci-fi. This film could have been a sci-fi classic, but it clearly squandered its potential with a lumbering narrative that assumes that the viewer already knows what's going on. The film's plot is set in a dystopian future where the apparent remnants of humanity live in a domed metropolis run by a supercomputer, and nobody is allowed to live past thirty years of age. In theory, this could have made for a good premise. If only the film bothered to explain what happened before all that came about. The film's general approach just seems odd to me. In the first half it was better, with stunning futuristic visuals and cool electronic soundtrack, but in the second half, all of a sudden the film's tone shifts to that of a more typical adventure film. The film spends two hours lumbering about without ever explaining what even motivates the protagonist to go on his quest. As for the characters, the performances don't do much for me at all. They just seem really silly, but then again, the whole movie turns into a silly, farcical sci-fi flick. It may have interesting ideas, but it doesn't handle them properly. Of course, it's still an interesting film, and it's not totally bad, though there are more than a few things that desperately needed to be cleared up if the producers wanted us to take the film's ideas seriously.

Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon(1980)

Think of this movie as essentially the campier equivalent of Star Wars, right down to the similar premise. There's simply no other way of describing it, and the film's obvious penchant for style over substance doesn't help the cause either, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. It's certainly a very imaginative film, with its lavishly surreal visuals and set pieces, and its characters come with nice costumes. However the characters themselves don't offer much personality, and I find that there's not much reason to care about Flash Gordon as a character (partly because he's the kind of guy who wears a shirt with his own name on it). The story itself is very simplistic, and while simplicity is a good thing, the end result can seem like a watered down Star Wars. It doesn't help that the film was written by the same man who wrote for the campy Batman TV series. The performances are alright, but they're incredibly campy for the most part, and none of the actors exemplify this more than Brian Blessed (the legendarily large ham who plays the leader of the Hawkmen in this film). Hammy performances aside, it's still an entertaining spectacle of a film, if mainly because it delivers on action, and any film that utilizes the music of Queen as well as this can't be truly bad.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Even with its slow start, this film is an overall improvement of the previous film, with a better plot and more matured performances from the cast. The film sets itself up as more of a sequel to the Star Trek episode "Space Seed" than it is to the first motion picture. Personally, I think it's a better way to ensure continuity from the original series, almost to the point that this should have been the first film they made. Either way, it's a good approach used to good effect, and with solid pacing and real character development to boot. Of course, the major high point of the film is its performances. Ricardo Montalban does a terrific job at playing the role Khan, perhaps even better than he did the first time he played him. Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock both deliver performances in the film, which, towards the end, gives us the best performance William Shatner has ever given in the whole series. The other characters do very well in the film, and even though I question the decision to cast Kirstie Alley as a supporting character, she isn't as bad as I thought she would be. And finally, no Star Trek film would be complete without its spectacular eye candy. In that regard, the special effects are just as great as they were before, but the visuals are even better. At this point, the original Star Trek films are mainly visual spectacles, but out of all of them, this second film is still the best one.

Q
Q(1982)
½

This film is pretty much what you might expect from a cliché monster movie, but it somehow goes lower than that. It attempts to revive the old-fashioned style of monster movie while simultaneously passing off as some sort of bizarre murder mystery, and this approach, while it might sound interesting on paper, doesn't work very well in practice, mainly due to the film's somewhat clumsy pacing. It also doesn't help that you barely get a good look at the monster until the later parts of the movie, and the parts where you see close-ups of the monster don't hide the film's low budget and cheap production values very well. The acting is alright, but the characters all come across as stock characters with no real personality whatsoever. Though not the worst in terms of special effects, the film does a pretty bad job at depicting a convincing monster, and this makes for a very unscary horror film. Although the film has some interesting ideas up its sleeve, it fails to deliver on them in a manner that would make for an engaging creature feature. Because of this, the end result that we're left with a cheesy B-movie that doesn't even pass for a joke.

Dirty Harry
Dirty Harry(1971)
½

I've always wondered why critics focused on the supposed political message this film is said to have had four decades ago. By focusing on the film's moral position, I think the critics of their time forgot that films are as much art as they are entertainment, and this film excels both on the level of art and entertainment. The film portrays a detective trying to apprehend a vicious psychopath, while grappling with the orders of his superiors contradicting his own moral instincts. To Dirty Harry, the criminal is as clear as day, but what enrages him is that law is too slow to act. He represents society's latent desire for swift and effective justice without any interference from a middle man. In the dazed and confused time that was the early 1970's, he was essentially a kind of modern cowboy, the ultimate antithesis of what John Wayne came to represent. We can his politics all we want, but he certainly gets the job done, and I actually admire him as a character because of it. In the film, Clint Eastwood delivers what is perhaps the kind of tense performance and implicitly tough persona that distinguishes him as a great actor. The film also manages to realize its seedy setting effortlessly, the end result being a visual representation of what was then the present. Of course, nothing steals the spotlight quite like the raw violence that speaks louder than the film's eponymous protagonist, and it can't be denied that it's always a pleasure to see Clint Eastwood do what he does best. Whether you loved it for its uncompromising attitude, or hated it for its supposed politics, this film will always leave an impression on you in some way or another, and it will most likely be among the most truly raw of cinematic experiences.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
½

Considering the film's ostensibly silly concept, it would have been far better if this were a comedy film, or better yet a parody. Instead, we get a sub-par fantasy action flick that fails because it takes its ridiculous premise way too seriously. In fact, the overly serious tone is what breaks suspension of disbelief to the point of no return. It's not just the vampire killing element that's flawed. Somehow, it seems as though the writers changed history in order to make it fit the premise, eventually up to the point that the entire Confederate army is basically written off as vampires. Not only does that not make sense, but it also reeks of historical revisionism. Again, all of this would have been fine as a comedy, but it's taken so seriously and in such a forced way that it simply doesn't work. The acting is pretty much average, it sounds so forced. I don't think for a moment that any of the actors really felt like taking the film seriously the first time, and the characters suffer because of it. Then again, the very bland personalities don't help the cause. The film looks completely bland, almost as though the producers were making a very feeble attempt to ooze grit from every orifice, and in the end it fails. The action scenes seem like they could have been the best part of the movie, but even with competent choreography, the action scenes suffer because they're just so inescapably dull and ridiculous. To top it all off, the film's generic orchestral film score creates a generally bad atmosphere that ruins everything including the action scenes. Ultimately, though not the worst film of its kind, this film fails as a fantasy action film, and squanders ever opportunity it had to work as a parody of such.

SLC Punk
SLC Punk(1998)

As soon as I found out about this film, I immediately wanted to see it, and when I finally did, I was as much surprised as I was satisfied and entertained. I knew I was in for something really unique when I saw the title, which used satirical LP covers as the opening credits. The film follows the life of two quintessential young punks living the life of an anarchist in a dilapidated apartment. It starts out as a really crazy comedy with what seems like a machine gun of jokes, but by the end it gradually morphs into a more serious film as the protagonist laments his position in life. The film's protagonist offers a uniquely punk perspective, and while I'm fairly certain that you won't necessarily agree with him, I must admire the sheer force of his conviction. The film itself is blatantly satirical of the punk subculture in both the humorous sense at the beginning, and in the more serious sense towards the end. This satirical representation of punks is reflected in the majority of the film's cast. Many of them are loud and aggressive, though they all have something that gives them depth (like "Heroin" Bob's ironic aversion to drugs). The performances were exaggerated yet realistic, and somehow, I find myself sympathizing with the main protagonist by the end of the film. A variety of punk/alternative rock songs, on top of being downright catchy, help add to the film's punk vibe. Ultimately, the film stands out as a terrifically satirical examination of what it means to be a punk, which, on a deeper level, is what the film lives and breathes.

The Neverending Story

Although it's pretty much designed for children, this endearing fantasy film has appeal for viewers of all ages, both because of the film's exoneration of the power of imagination, and the film's message of hope against despair. The story starts out as though it's a normal 80's film about a kid being picked on by other kids. Thankfully, that's only the case for the first ten minutes. From there on, we're treated to a beautiful yet dying fantasy world that can only be saved by the imagination of a troubled young boy. It seems a bit corny and tends to be rather simplistic, but I tend to think that it sends a positive message, and in that regard, it's one of the few family-friendly films that deliver a positive message with any meaning at all. The characters, for the most part, may seem equally naïve, but they're still quite likeable, and the performances are very good. Of course, the film is more of a visual triumph than anything else, with fantastic visuals and special effects perfectly illustrating a truly inspired world of magic and wonder. Even with its flaws, it stands as a testament to the power and the value of imagination.

Ninja Hunter
Ninja Hunter(1986)
½

Though obviously riddled by some of the production problems that plague low-budget action films, it stands out as pure, unadulterated entertainment. The story doesn't have a lot of imagination or logic, and the pacing is too fast for any real plot development. Of course, this isn't the kind of film you should be watching purely for the story, but it's still a big issue considering that the scene transitions happen very abruptly, often causing the viewer to wonder if the last scene ended at all. On the plus side, it's very straightforward and gets to the point. The characters, meanwhile, leave much to be desired in terms of personality and acting. In fact, I'm pretty sure the English-language version of this film sounds like bad anime voice actors dubbing over the film. To be fair, they may not act well, but they are awesome in the field of violent martial arts. The key to this film's entertainment value is its amazing and often comical fight scenes, wherein nothing makes sense and it's more awesome than it sounds. Call it shallow, but even with mediocre writing and sloppy acting, it's still a very entertaining action film riddled with surprises, even if it loses some steam by the end.

Smokey and the Bandit
½

While it might have been decent in its time, this rollicking country-fried car chase flick hasn't aged well at all. I can't really say anything much about the story, other than it seems rather than and a little contrived. I probably wouldn't expect much, considering this is a film whose primary methods of storytelling are car chases and trucker slang. The characters aren't much, and many of them have only the bare minimum of personality. I get the sense that the writers were trying to pass the Bandit as a modern day cowboy, and at least they accomplished that. He's brash, he's crude, and he seems to constantly flout the law wherever he goes. Speaking of that, you know you're watching a film with bad writing if the antagonist is someone you're flat out supposed to hate. Case in point, the eponymous Sheriff Smokey (a.k.a. Buford T. Justice) is deliberately unlikable, mostly because he shouts at people who, for the most part, haven't done anything wrong. It just seems like the writers want you to side with the jerkass cowboy without question, ensuring that with a poorly written police sheriff. The production values are actually fairly good for the time, and the music isn't too bad, but it doesn't make up for an action-comedy with so-so car chases and barely and a largely unfunny script.

Casino Royale

If there's one thing we don't need, it's another reboot, especially if it's a Bond reboot. James Bond is a character that is now synonymous with fads that have long since overstayed their welcome. The original Bond films started off as really good, but then became tedious as the years went by and as they kept making so many. The Pierce Brosnan films tried making the franchise edgy again, but ultimately fell prey to the much of the same old clichés, to the point that the franchise would once again collapse under the weight of its own silliness. This film tried to change all that by reinventing the character as a gritty, post-Bourne action hero, and it's all too apparent that the producers have missed the point of the character entirely. This new Bond is ugly and fights like a street thug, and with all the charm of a poor man's Mark Harmon. Considering the film itself, saying that about the guy is extremely generous. I know that much of the plot in a Bond film is mainly just a giant excuse to parade around a handsome actor, but in the case of this film, the plot is really boring and thin. The producers stretch it out for as long as possible, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the guy they're showing off for two hours is a total bore, and that whole scene where he gets tortured just seems like a pointless attempt to give depth to a character that has is incapable of such in a modern context. For me, that's the entire problem with this film. It attempts to put an embarrassingly dated character and franchise into a modern context, and yet Bond simply doesn't work in a modern context at all. Without the suave Bond just seems like a neutered spy trying to be Jason Bourne just because that was the next big thing at the time. Of course, one argue that the Bond franchise is a lot better without the silliness and gadgetry that plagued the older films, but what we get instead is arguably much worse, and even more repetitive in the films to come. The film may have been competently produced, as can be seen from the visuals and the realistic action scenes, but it's worth nothing if the film as a whole cannot entertain. By this point, Bond is deader than disco, so why can't we just accept it?

Blue Velvet
Blue Velvet(1986)

Blue Velvet is a film for true lovers of film as an art form, and whether you were enthralled or repelled, if you saw it, it's nothing like any film you've ever seen before. It starts out as somewhat bright and peachy on the surface, but as the film progresses, you quickly find yourself delving into a depraved, psychotic and violent world. The narrative takes a scintillating turn as the protagonist, in trying to aid a humiliated, beaten lounge singer, discovers his voyeuristic dark side, while simultaneously lamenting the terrible world he had just found himself in. All the while, he falls in love with bright, innocent-looking girl named Sandy, who essentially acts as this film's glimmering ray of hope. The characters were all very well written and acted, and their performances reflect many facets of human nature, especially the darker shades of it. The film makes symbolic use of lighting throughout the story. The more normal world, for lack of a description, is ostensibly brighter, and the more positive moments are often saturated with light, while the world at night is portrayed with a kind of dark cinematography characterized by a prevalence of shadows. The film's musical score also adds a certain quality to the overall atmosphere of the film. It may not be pleasant, but it's an entertaining film with many different meanings, and in my mind, a true example of how film can be a work of art in its own right.

Blazing Saddles
½

When it was made, this film was daring, subversive and bold, and I suppose in some ways that's still true. You literally cannot make a film like this anymore, and that's quite sad because this film is not only a great comedy film, but also perhaps one of the finest spoof films ever made. It viciously parodied much of the conventions of the western film, while also highlighting the racism of the Old West that cowboy films typically glossed over. The story is nicely paced and very well told, and it has the gift of being both loud and subtle in terms of its humour. The film also boasts good performances from its leads, but the film's lead villain always manages to gleefully steal the spotlight with his brilliantly silly performance. The film also recreates the western film style so well that it makes the parody all the more effective at making the western film cheesier than it already was. Armed to the teeth with genuinely funny jokes, this is a film that deserves its place in the canon of classic comedies.

Häxan (Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages) (The Witches)
½

Though the film is incredibly dated, suffering much the same fate as all other silent films due to technology marching on, it remains an artistic curiosity for those truly interested in film as a medium of expression. The film is essentially an examination of superstition and of the hysteria surrounding witchcraft, taking on a silent documentary style. I found this to be a very interesting approach, though it is rather impractical considering that such an approach requires frequent of intertitles, which tend to disrupt the flow of the film. The film also incorporates an interesting narrative that serves to visually illustrate the film-maker's point, and it's from that point onward that the film starts to become really interesting. For me, it's perhaps the imagery that is the most interesting aspect of the film. From a narrative point of view, it helps to illustrate the film's central premise, but it's better on an aesthetic level than anything else. Even though parts of the film are more accidentally funny than they are serious, I still find myself appreciating the film as a kind of artistic thesis on superstition and misunderstanding.

Melancholia
Melancholia(2011)

As an art film, Melancholia was certainly interesting, but the narrative lacks focus. In fact, the film's artistic potential is often belied by the film's slow and quiet pace. I don't mind that the film is so quiet most of the time, but because the characters seem to talk at a kind of sporadic rate, it's almost like there's a bleak silence lingering around. Act I is perhaps the dullest part of the film, while Act II takes a few surreal turns before eventually snuffs out. The performances were good, but not great enough that they have much of an impact. However, I think the film-makers may have been intending an approach that sees the characters conveying emotion in a relatively silent way. I guess they wanted the film to feel like you were drifting through the end of days. I think the film had a lot of potential, but it lacked the passion that would have allowed it to make a real impact on the viewer, to the point that the film may as well have gone out in a whimper despite it ending with a planetary collision.

The Hudsucker Proxy
½

Whatever the producers intended for this film, it disappoints on every expectation, both artistic and commercial. It does make for a decent pastiche of Old Hollywood, but it does little other than that, and feels like a film that's trapped in its own heavy-handed sense of nostalgia. The chief problem is that it's very big on style, but is desperately short on substance. The story might have been interesting if the characters were more believable as opposed to being caricatures of old film stereotypes. The narrative is fairly predictable, but otherwise would have been alright were it not for the film's decision to resolve the plot with a magic solution ending. In all fairness, the film had a cast of good actors, but those same actors are condemned to play the roles of bad characters with a flimsy script. The film's focus on style wouldn't be so bad if the film's Old Hollywood style weren't so dull and pretentious. If nothing else, the film is a good example of what happens when a film-maker concentrates on style rather than substance. In terms of actual substance, however, it's quite forgettable.

Heathers
Heathers(1988)
½

Without a doubt, this film is one of the most scintillating, cynical and darkly subversive films I've seen in quite a while. In an era responsible for churning out shallow, mindless teen flicks, this film tore the typical teen movie inside out. The film started out with the main character surrounded by "friends" who are completely shallow, and then she develops a conscience and decides she can't stand the people she had been with, and then she meets a guy who takes her through a path of murder and manipulation that turns out to be no different from the path she previously walked. The film's narrative highlights not only the cruelty of teenage life, but also the conniving opportunism of the adults who manipulate young people and make their lives suck to begin with. In a sense, the film's core message is that suicide is not an option, although nobody in the film actually kills themselves. However you saw the film, the narrative was so well-written that, by the end, you'll be glad you followed the story. The characters were played very well, to the point that there's depth even in the most unlikable of characters, and Christian Slater's brilliant performance as a pretentious psychopath was simply brilliant. However, the most interesting character was Winona Ryder's character, and it's not because she's the main character. To me, she's the last free spirit in this film's high school setting. She represents those who have been disenfranchised by a culture that teaches young people to be obsessed by popularity, vanity, and meaningless sex. Even though it was made it the 80's, I still think that it has some relevance today, if mainly because I feel that nothing about teen life has changed since 1988. Armed to the hilt with young talent and razor sharp wit, this is the kind of film that others of its type could only pretend to be.

Red Hawk - Weapon of Death
½

This is the kind of film that's easy for people to dismiss at face value, but it's actually a lot of fun. Of course, due to its silly and cartoonish tone, it's nearly impossible to take this film seriously, and that's precisely why it's best not to. The story is very straightforward, and the pacing is pretty fast, but otherwise quite balanced for a film that's only 85 minutes long. While that's all well and good, there's not much exposition of the story, and that turns into a big problem when it turns out that the main villain is one of several working for an even bigger foe laying in what, yet we never seem to see him at all until the end. The characters are pretty good, though it must be said that they're better at fighting than acting (keeping in mind that this is the English dub, and English dubs usually aren't very good). Nonetheless, they consistently manage to give the film a sense of humour, and although they don't particularly offer much in terms of backstory, they make up for this in other ways. As for the visuals, it's obvious that the film is a little outdated in terms of animation, and even more so in terms of music, but the visuals are still good, and the music, strangely enough, is even better. Obviously the film's biggest strength is the fight scenes, which, though laden with flashy effects, are surprisingly engaging and decently made. On the whole, it's quite silly, but is still thoroughly entertaining.

The Shawshank Redemption
½

As far as I'm aware, almost everyone who's seen this film seems to either like or love it. While I think it's overrated and overly long, I also see how it could win people over. In all fairness, this is a very well-made prison drama, with very good performances from the lead characters and everyone else. If I have any problem with the story, it's the film's slow pacing, which is especially bad in a film that's mostly talk. Don't get wrong, I know the script is good, but it's the pacing weighs it down. As for the narrative itself, it seems hell bent on bringing the message of maintaining hope in a hopeless situation, and to be fair, it does this quite well, if mainly because the characters' aforementioned performances seem to make it work. The scenery also helps to set the overall tone for the film. It may be largely drab and lifeless, but considering the narrative, that works to a certain advantage. It may be flawed in terms of narrative, but it certainly succeeds as a dramatic tour de force.

The Infidel
The Infidel(2010)

This film presents a unique take on the modern issue of multiculturalism, and it's not the kind of film to pull punches either. The film's plot centres around a Muslim man who leads an ordinary life until he discovers that he was, in fact, born to Jewish parents, and his subsequent journey to understand his roots and find his true place in a multicultural world proves to be both hilarious and fascinating. The characters are certainly entertaining, even if they sometimes come across as a bit stereotypical, though this could be purely for the purpose of satire. Omid Djalili's character often comes a Muslim Homer Simpson, and for once, I can think of this as positive, because it gives the viewer a fresh, honest perspective. Some of the jokes seem a bit crude, but the rest are comedic gold. The film itself is filled with social commentary, balanced with a good script well enough that its message doesn't come across as heavy-handed, and it culminates with a satisfying ending.

Vampire Hunter D
½

Thirty years after it was originally made, this film's age and limited budget show in quite obvious ways. The animation is not as well done as other anime films of the day, which I found to be odd considering the kind of high quality that could have been achieved even before the film's release. I don't seem to mind too much though, since the art style works on a lot of levels. The story is alright, even if it's a bit absurd, but the main problem is that the pacing is too fast. Because the film-makers tried to cram everything into 80 minutes, the film tends to move from one scene to another way too quickly, and not in a very seamless manner. The characters themselves aren't too bad, and the main protagonist (the eponymous D) comes across as a really cool action hero. However, this is one of several anime films with English dubbing that leaves much to be desired, and so the acting is not so great. If there's any reason why I do like this film, aside from the art style, it's the fight scenes, which, thanks to the variety of amazing fighting styles, are surprisingly well-done. Although this film is very flawed, it's also a film that I enjoy, if mainly because it appeals to me. It's dated, but it has a certain charm to it.

The Nutty Professor

Like several comedy films from the 1990's, this film is most likely only funny if you're very young. In fact, this is a prime example of a film made by producers who assume that the viewers must be idiots. In this regard, the main problem is that the jokes always feel like the actors are trying to force them, and the jokes that are even remotely funny are funny for the wrong reasons. The story is very thin and clichéd, much like all comedies. I know that this is based loosely on The Nutty Professor from the 1960's, but this film takes the central premise through a filter of fart jokes and embarrassingly dated black stereotypes. On the whole, the story is essentially another tired romance plot, complete with almost the same exact set-up. To be fair, Eddie Murphy still manages to give a few strong performances in this film, and I should commend his ability to juggle a total of seven roles. However, this is not one of his finest moments, and it gets worse from there. Crass, visually dull, and devoid of any intelligent humour, this is a film that was either bad when it was new, or has simply aged badly.

Hokuto no ken (Fist of the North Star)
½

This film is as insanely violent as it is fun and engaging. At face value, it's essentially a hyperviolent martial arts film in a Mad Max setting, and as it turns out this a great setting for a film like this. However, there's not a lot about the story that's explained after the beginning the film, and so much of the film's events don't make much sense. The characters, for the most part, tend to be more impressive because of what they do in the film than for their performances, which is good considering the English dub leaves much to be desired. Despite the mediocre English dub, there are times where the characters make a real impression. The animation, though technically outdated, is still very much a spectacle, especially when it comes to the film's many violent action scenes, themselves a kind of brutal display of energy and vitality. The violence is perhaps the film's big selling point. If it weren't for the film's extremely energetic fight scenes, this film would be truly awful, because it's those fight scenes that are invigorating as well as entertaining (unless you're the easily disturbed type). In spite of its flaws, it's a very satisfying film from beginning to end.

The Wind and the Lion
½

Although it's no classic, The Wind and the Lion was certainly an entertaining film. It looks as though the film-makers to make a film in the style of those old adventure films from the 1950's and 1960's, and this approach works quite well, even though it seems to gloss over the premise of nations almost starting a world war over a woman and her kids. Never mind the fact that the narrative swings between a political crisis and its romanticized case of Stockholm syndrome. The performances are really good, and it's especially hard to resist Sean Connery's performance as Mulai Ahmed er Raisuli. However, it's quite hard to sympathize with a majority of the cast. Of course, the film's central narrative is about a woman who gets kidnapped and eventually realizes that her captor is more well-educated and honourable than she thought. In that sense, it works to good effect, since Raisuli is a genuinely likeable character in the film. Topped off with nice-looking visuals and well-choreographed action scenes, this is a film that's dramatic, humorous and fun, despite its flaws.

Thor
Thor(2011)

A few years ago, I would have liked this film, and to be fair, it's not bad. I like that the film aims for a creative interpretation of the mythology and comic book that film is derived from. While the film's creative vision obviously has a lot of potential, much of it is chained to a typical comic book film narrative, and because the film focuses on Earth more than its nine realms (which I would really liked to have seen more of), the narrative often struggles with juggling good fantasy with bad sci-fi. The characters are alright, backed by some mostly good performances, but all too often it seems like half the cast was populated by throwaway characters. Also, I find that the script tends to focus too much on Thor and Jane, perhaps as a consequence of the narrative spending too much time on Earth. For me, the film could have done far better if it were set across all the nine realms as more of a mythological fantasy setting. The film certainly looks as though this could be accomplished, and the visuals were very well-done. The battle at the first part of the film also shows a lot of promise, but the film as a whole is weighed down by a narrative that is zealously oriented towards the comic book formula. One could only imagine what might have been possible if the film was made with a different direction in mind. If only Marvel didn't want yet another superpowered cash cow.

Darkside Blues
½

This film was consistently interesting from beginning to end, to the extent that it's quite hard for me to not like it. It certainly has a lot of imagination in almost every department, although there's not really a lot of focus. Although there is a linear story, there's no exposition given to how events took place to begin with. All we know about the story is that, in the film, much of the world is controlled by a large corporation that is rich enough to rule the world from space, and that they're only enemy is a small pocket of resistance aided by a mysterious man in black. Honestly, it's not a bad narrative, and the film itself full of potential, but there begs to be an explanation. As for the characters, the acting on the English dub isn't great, but the characters themselves were always interesting, especially Darkside, the coldly impregnable man in black who fades in and out of the film's world. The only thing that could make him any better is if he had wings. The animation, though it's not as good as some of the other anime films out there, has a kind of unique flavour, perhaps as a result of the film's special blend of high-tech, low life, and a distinctly graceful darkness. However, it's the music that cements this film as an atmospheric triumph. Had the narrative been expanded a bit more, I'd say this could have been an underrated classic, but don't get me wrong, it's still quite a gem of a film as it is.

The Thief of Bagdad

Although the age shows quite glaringly, this film consistently provides a real sense of adventure. In fact, this was perhaps the one of the first real adventure films, and in this case, I say real for a reason. The story is fairly simple and, by today's standards, somewhat clichéd, but it's a very entertaining fantasy tale, and it flows in such a way that you can enjoy the ride. The performances are also very lively for the most part, and they definitely get better as the film progresses. The special effects, of course, are now visibly outdated after seventy-five years. However, the visuals and special effects have aged very well (at least in colour), and they are ultimately part of the reason why the film still has the amount of appeal that ensured its status as a "classic film". For me, it's no classic, but it's very entertaining nonetheless, so much so that I find it hard to fully say why, probably because I prefer to take this film at face value, and that's probably for the best.

Ten To Chi To (Heaven and Earth)

This historical film about two Japanese warlords fighting for supremacy is fairly straightforward, and has much of the qualities of an Akira Kurosawa film, but without any of the things that could have made it great. The narrative takes quite a few liberties when it comes to history, though given the pacing, it doesn't exactly accomplish much. Right at the beginning, the film tells you that Kagetora is the righteous warlord seeking only to protect his land, and that Shingen is an ambitious warlord seeking to take over the land, but the characters seem to contradict this a lot. It's harder to sympathize with the people who are supposed to be the good guys when the good guys act somehow more brutish the supposed enemies. The performances are competent, but they aren't very compelling, which is unfortunate because it means a lot of wasted potential. On the plus side, the film has neat visuals and a good soundtrack. Also, the action scenes are somewhat well choreographed, but there's not much to say. It's a film that could have reached epic heights, but it ultimately fumbles about too much to make a lasting impression.

Superbad
Superbad(2007)
½

Superbad is a film that has all the hallmarks of a typical teen flick churned out by Hollywood. The focus of the plot is chiefly on beer and sex, the personalities are all fake, and much of the script is swearing for its own sake. Given what I've seen from other teen movies, I firmly expected that out of this film. The writing is pretty much terrible, since it revolves around the assumption that most teens deliberately seek out reckless social situations just for the sake of spending the night with a girl. Of course, that's probably not the point of the film, but it's so intrinsically puerile that everything else gets lost in a sea of beer and bad writing. The characters aren't all bad, although I really despise Jonah Hill's character, who seems to be good for nothing other than dragging his best friend down with him to the pits of mediocrity. Then again, I have a strong dislike for Jonah Hill as an actor. There may be a fair share of funny moments, and in the film's defence, the characters actually develop quite decently, but it's all standard fare for the teen film genre, which doesn't seem to have changed much in three decades. One could argue that this is one of the more decent films in the genre, and back when I was a teenager, I might have agreed. However, all teen movies are basically the same to me, and this film is nothing more than an outdated teen movie that only works for a teenage audience. Even if the film does try for a balance between puerility and wit, it's still too crude for that balance to work.

Lifeforce
Lifeforce(1985)

This film is a rather interesting piece of sci-fi. It's a vampire film wherein the vampires are shape-shifting aliens who travel from planet to planet, absorbing whatever life energy they can. As ridiculous as that might sound, this film manages to handle the concept decently well, in the sense that the film's vampires really are on a different conceptual level, rather than just cheap Dracula knock-offs in spacesuits. The story itself is quite interesting, with the central narrative revolving around attraction, but it's plagued by a somewhat slow pacing, and is hampered further by a rather inconsistent tone. The beginning of the film moves slowly with not much happening, then it turns into a kind of sci-fi mystery film, then it becomes a weird kind of erotic thriller film (if the term "erotic" even applies here), before finally shifting into an awkwardly paced zombie film, but with fire and explosions all over the place. The characters don't exactly help much. They aren't bad, but, with a few exceptions, the performances seem are really stale and unconvincing. On the plus side, the film has a rather nice visual palette, though is mainly seen at the beginning and end of the film. On the whole, the film isn't terrible. In fact, amongst all the other sci-fi and horror films, this one is a rare breed. At the very least, I liked the way that it tried to mix ideas that wouldn't go well together, and that at least is more than could be said about many of the films being churned out today.

Twins of Evil

For all the effort put into it (and I say that loosely), this film does almost nothing to shake off the feeling that it is little more than a bland B-movie with Playboy models. The story might actually have been decent were it not for lazy writing. It's essentially what Witchfinder General would be like if the main characters were twin girls, and the story involved vampires. Is simple is it is, it's paced really badly, and with terribly flat dialogue. The characters are also completely unconvincing and devoid of personality, or even competent acting talent. The visuals are alright, but the special effects are downright terrible. Some scenes are so badly choreographed that it looks as though they were made on a shoestring budget. If all else fails, any decent horror movie should be somewhat thrilling, and this film can't even accomplish that. This is the kind of film that could have been decent if it were made with more competent direction, but sadly, that could never be, and thus this film is doomed to its place alongside other cliché horror films of the early 1970's.

The Noah
The Noah(1975)

Almost lost to obscurity, this experimental film represents the bleak landscape of the mind of its main character, who the film presents as the last man on Earth. His only company is an ever-increasing number of imaginary friends that exist only in his mind. The film's concept is highly original, and is very immersive for those who are patient. The first half of the film is quite lively, with Noah's first imaginary friend providing a humorous atmosphere, and his girlfriend adds even more of a human element to the film's narrative. In the second half, however, he banishes his imaginary couple, and replaces them with a whole civilization of imaginary voices, echoing the ghosts of history. While the second half may have been the most important part of the film, it's also very muddled. Various audio clips, both newly recorded and from history, are played together in such a way that it seems like there is no context except the implication that it all comes from Noah's mind. This, combined with the slow pace, make this film difficult to understand at first. However, when the film ends, the gravity of it sinks in. The film seems like an artistic one-man show, and despite the slow pace, it works quite well, although it should be noted that the film's strongest trait is its sense of atmosphere. The second half may be a bit muddled, but the atmosphere it creates is quite strong, and it's not without direction. The film as a whole is very interesting, and despite its flaws, it's a very engaging experience that proves that you can do more with less.

The 13th Warrior

You'd think that with a budget in excess of $100 million, the producers would be able to make this film as good as it could have been. However, the momentum died very quickly, and as one expensive set-piece passes after another, it gets all the harder to actually care about it. The story is very simplistic, but thin and hollow in terms of actual storytelling. The characters are difficult, if not impossible to empathize with, mainly because many of them are typical macho men (for medieval standards at least) with little personality to show. Antonio Banderas makes for a decent lead character, but he still doesn't do a whole lot to make this film any more watchable. The visuals are decent and quite realistic, but there's not a lot of colour, which only adds to the banality of the film as a whole. The fighting scenes aren't much either. In fact, they seem just as flimsy as the acting itself. This film could have been a solid offering, but instead we're treated to an overly expensive and badly written adventure flick that fails to reach the heights the producers had hoped for it to reach.

Wrath of the Ninja: The Yotoden Movie
½

To me, this film illustrates some of the main differences between Western and Japanese animation. Whereas most Western animated films tend to try and appeal to as broad an audience as possible, this film is geared more towards stylistically violent action. I know that Japanese animation covers a broad range of genres, and this film falls under the category of historical fantasy action film. In turn, the story tends to take a backseat to fast-paced action. The plot is fairly thin, but the pacing is straightforward, and for only 86 minutes, it's a good ride while it lasts. The characters are alright, but the acting isn't that good. It's close to the kind of acting I'd expect from an old Dynasty Warriors game, although it's not that bad. As I've come to expect from a lot of anime films, the visuals are amazing. Back in the 1980's, there was more of an emphasis on detail and shading in anime, and this is one of those films where this is done to very good effect, both in terms of the characters and the special effects. As for the music, it's not bad, although sometimes it briefly seems as though the sounds were recorded under dubious circumstances. The action scenes, meanwhile, are very stylish and entertaining, even if they sometimes veer towards what we in the West would ridiculous. Even with all its flaws, Yotoden manages to be quite entertaining, taking full advantage of the medium of anime to create a unique spectacle that stands tall by its own merits.

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Almost immediately, the film was billed as the triumphant return of the original Star Trek cast. While I certainly can't put the film down for its intentions, it's the somewhat presumptuous and lazy execution of those intentions that bring the film down. The plot is way too thin for a film as long as this one, and much of the film's first act is spent meandering about pointlessly before something plot-relevant actually happens. On the plus side, it would seem that the main cast's acting abilities have actually improved since the original Star Trek was cancelled, with some fine performances from characters who had become iconic by the time this film was released. However, the newer characters don't really do anything for the film's narrative whatsoever. The film's main strength is its amazing special effects, which lead to some very dazzling cinematic moments. It's almost like a light show that lasts for over two hours, though that isn't always favourable. When it comes to Star Trek, however, it's very hard to dismiss it as having more looks than brains, and in fairness, this film isn't bad, but the pacing is very sluggish, and considering how thin the film's actual plot is, this tends to make the film seem like an over-extended episode of the Star Trek TV show.

The Secret of NIMH
½

When Disney decided they didn't want to make animated features anymore, Don Bluth and other animators decided to form their own studio, where they could make whatever they wanted. For their first project, they made The Secret of NIMH, which is arguably one of the finest animated films ever made. Even though it's ostensibly intended for a young audience, it doesn't tone down its subject matter, and the characters don't come across as patronizing either, so what we get is a family-friendly movie that can be highly enjoyable for people of all ages. Even if it continues the Disney trend of using talking mice as its cast, it proves to be a highly original film, with its uniquely blended fantasy narrative. I also find that the story is structured in a rather balanced way, devoid of the pretentiousness that often plagues many family-friendly fantasy films, especially in Disney films. The characters were well-played, and somehow the film's storytelling is more original and effective with talking animals than humans. Of course, the film's biggest strength is the masterfully crafted animation, courtesy of Don Bluth, whose mastery of his craft brings the artistic potential of this film to life. Films like this one are a rare find in American cinema, and this stands out like a gleaming diamond beyond what you may have seen before.

Rollerball
Rollerball(1975)
½

Almost immediately, this comes across as a film that could have had potential, but the film's producers seem to have squandered it. The film's biggest problem is that the plot suffers from sluggish pacing. It settles for a dystopian future narrative, but without much exposition into how this setting came to be. If you're going to write about a dystopian future, then the writer should at least let us know how it happened in the film. Even if there is an explanation, it's very minimal and basic at best, and the film's narrative tends to be quite muddled, perhaps because it takes a backseat to the violent action. In effect, we have a dystopian setting without a lot of context, save for the "corporations run everything" angle. Although the performances were competent, the characters don't really stand out in my opinion, nor do they do a lot to grab my attention. In fact, many of them seem like they're fading subtly into the background. However, the film isn't entirely bad. It certainly has well-made visuals and special effects, and the eponymous sport is decently choreographed. However, it doesn't really do much to grab my attention. On the whole, it's a rather unconvincing piece of sci-fi that not only seems more dated with age, but is also arguably just as cold and lifeless as the kind of future it attempts to depict.

Dragonslayer
Dragonslayer(1981)

While it's certainly no classic, Dragonslayer is exactly the kind of film that delivers on its promise - an imaginative fantasy spectacle with both a magical visual palette and the ability to evoke the Dark Ages through the medium of fantasy. The story does go a little bit off the track sometimes, but it's focused enough that the magic doesn't get lost. The performances were convincing enough, and although characters weren't always interesting, their performances were. Everything about the film seems to echo the fantastical side of the Dark Ages, though it also seems to reflect on those times as an era of superstition and lunacy, and it does this very well. The visuals are impressive, with a fully fleshed-out medieval world right before the viewer. Along with that, the film presents a wide array of special effects that, though they seem a little outdated by today's standards, still manage to impress. In fact, the film's dragon exemplifies the kind of beast that people in the Dark Ages would have feared. On the whole, the film is a very entertaining show of superstition, and that is the most important of the film's strengths because it outweighs all the flaws.

Aragami
Aragami(2003)
½

If I were given the challenge of making a film with only two principal actors fighting each other in a single setting, I don't think I could do it. That's the main idea behind this movie, and the end result is nothing short of great film-making in motion. The central premise revolves around a samurai who is brought back to life by a man who reveals himself to be a raging god of battle, who had been looking for someone strong enough to take his life. Although the film starts off without much momentum, it eventually becomes obvious that the film has been building suspense for the inevitable fighting. Along the way, the film seems to present itself as a kind of existential martial arts film, with chillingly fascinating monologues about life, death, and wonder. It's simply amazing that there's so much substance within only 78 minutes, and the fighting scenes are so masterfully choreographed that it's almost as though the fighting was real. With every minute keeping you on the edge of your seat, this film is the ultimate example of how you can do more with less. However, I suppose the real message of this film is that life is full of surprises, and not all is as it seems, which is certainly the case with this amazing feat of film-making.

Renegades
Renegades(1989)
½

This film sounds like one of those late-80's action films that could have been fun, but like many films that jumped on the Lethal Weapon bandwagon, this one just couldn't keep up the initial momentum, and the end result is a fairly inferior action film which, while it has its moments, fails to be really engaging. The story at least has an interesting story, concerning the theft of a sacred Native American lance. However, it's handled in a very formulaic manner, and whatever hint of an interesting direction is quickly buried six feet under. The acting isn't terrible, and I find the performances to be somewhat competent, but the characters themselves don't really do much for me. I feel like this is one of those films where they I thing that's actually likable is the music, and even that's clichéd. The action scenes also seem rather impotent, and that's generally a bad sign in what should be an action movie, which itself is ironic since there's more talking than fighting. This film could and should have been good, but it seems the producers were too willing to settle for a by-the-numbers action film that I don't think they knew too much on how to make.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It's pretty hard to dislike this movie, primarily because it's technically well-made. However, in many ways, it seems very much like a rehash of the older Lord of the Rings movies, which were made by the same director. For me, the film's biggest problem is the same problem that plagues the Lord of the Rings trilogy - the film is nearly three hours long. However, this film in particular seems to have a deliberately slow pace, as if the producers have a major psychological condition that prevents them from realizing that it might come across as boring. For me, the film has a particular problem getting started. Right at the beginning, the film spends five minutes on a lavish prologue, and after that, we get ten more minutes of pointless, inane dialogue before the film actually starts. Once we get past that, we get a very long and drawn out adventure with a lot of overacting. That's basically this film in a nutshell, but that's not to say that it lacks merit. It certainly has grand visuals, though I think I have come to expect that. Most of the film is special effects, and in this film's case, it's hard to be really dazzled by what you've seen in so many other films. It may be enough to please fans, but I think it could have been so much better, especially in terms of its unbearably sluggish pacing.

Barbarella
Barbarella(1968)

This is one of those fantasy films that's so silly you probably won't make hide nor hair it, or at least not on the first time you see it. It's nonsense, utter nonsense, but it's actually quite entertaining. The film certainly has a unique stylistic flair, and I like the music they made for the film. Although the special effects are obviously dated and look silly by today's standards, they still look quite nice, as do the visuals. The acting is a bit ridiculous, but it's not terrible, and at least Jane Fonda does a damn good job in the lead role. Simply put it, this is a film that is not meant to be taken seriously, even in parts of the plot that would call for it. It is very campy, but it's full of humour, and I guarantee that it can be enjoyed on a basic level, so long as you don't read into it too much. The big problem with the film is that barely makes any sense whatsoever. There's not a lot of exposition, and the details the plot is willing to divulge in are pure nonsense. Sometimes, it's hilarious, but otherwise it's something that makes the film harder and harder to take seriously. It's not that it should have been more serious. On its own it could have been great, but its deeply flawed, and the biggest irony about it is that its brought down by the same level of camp that's supposed to make it fun.

The Mephisto Waltz

Although this film shows plenty of promise, it ultimately does little beyond the occult horror formula, which had become fairly standard by the time this film was made. The narrative is oddly paced, in that while the film itself lasts for only 94 minutes, the story moves along rather slowly, with the first half of the film going nowhere and the second half waddling in clichés. The performances are competent, though not necessarily enthralling. In fact, I found at least one of the characters to be completely lacking in convincing personality. That being said, it's not a wholly bad film. At the very least, it has a sense of style (which, to be fair, comes from the fact that the film is partly about the art of playing the piano), and the atmospheric elements are round about right. However, the film is rather weak in terms of actual horror, and probably inspired more laughs than scares. I do admire the film's intent, and it's still something of a watchable film, but it's nothing too special.

300
300(2007)

This is one of those films that, since its release, has taken on a life of its own, and for good reasons. Yes, it does embellish history, almost to the point of it being fantastical propaganda, and this often keeps the narrative from being taken very seriously (in fact, much of the ridiculous fantasy elements the producers brought in generate more laughs than awe). However, the central message isn't lost. The writers are well aware of why the story of the 300 Spartans is so well remembered - it represents a determined few standing up to a massive army despite hopeless odds. For me, the real reason this film still holds up in this day and age is because of the epic performances. Of course, it is rather over-dramatic, but it hammers home the atmosphere and really gets you to feel for the characters fighting for what they value most. That's not to say the villains weren't impressive. In fact, the villains, though they don't really get much screen time, were just as interesting as the heroes for the same reasons. It also helps that the film has a gritty, yet imaginatively stylized approach, with the icing on the cake being the violently stylish and epic battle scenes that take up around half of the film's length. Even though the film's narrative is obviously one-sided (and that shows almost all the time), what matters ultimately is that it's a scintillating film to watch for all the right reasons, and even though it comes across as oozing machismo, it's pure entertainment by its own merits.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

This is one of those films where it's difficult to understand, and yet I find that I can enjoy this film anyway. The film's narrative and premise is quite similar to Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (which would be released seven years later), although with seemingly minimal dialogue. Of course, due to the language barrier, I can't exactly understand what the characters are saying, or even the narrative itself. However, the film's biggest strength is its atmosphere and visuals. The film's soundtrack really conveys the protagonist's journey into the heart of darkness, while the film's overall atmosphere is rather calming. This sounds like the kind of film that I could watch if I needed a calming atmosphere. The weird thing about the performances is that even though I couldn't understand the language, I still liked the performances, as though they seemed to speak for themselves in a very effective way. While it's not a flawless film, I still found it to be very enjoyable, thanks to a great atmosphere and performances of admirable quality.

Of Mice and Men
½

I remember back when I was fifteen and still in school. I had to study John Steinbeck's book "Of Mice and Men" for English, and that ultimately led me to watch this film, which I actually liked back then, and appreciate even more now that I've given it a second look. Right off the bat, the major plot elements and the characters are all very familiar to me. In fact, watching this film a second time got me to remember much of what I read about the book. On the whole, this film is so much like the book that the experience was uncanny. The film-makers clearly handled the book very delicately, and the result is a film that speaks for itself without the pretentiousness or vulgarity that other Hollywood films of the time might be ready and willing to resort to. The performances were perhaps the highlight of the movie, as each character is captured flawlessly. Each character seems to hit the right notes, and the performances were very immersive indeed. The film's realistic atmosphere, coupled with the charming performances and a strong, well-told narrative, all work to set the tone for a film that more than deserves a standing ovation. It sometimes feels a little too quiet, but it's a film that needs nothing other than what it's got. It's a humble film, and it certainly lives up to the book with which it shares its name.

Spider-Man
Spider-Man(2002)
½

For some bizarre reason, none of the Spiderman films seem to have any appeal, and that's largely because they all operate on a ridiculous narrative. I know it's supposed to be comic book film, but I've seen better films in that category than this. In this regard, the biggest problem is that the narrative focuses on a completely unlikable teenage lead. If you watch this film, then you're stuck with a miserable coward who, were it not for the Spiderman costume, does nothing but remind you of the awkward side of being a teenager for two whole hours. As for the story, this film illustrates why origin stories are very annoying. Added to that is the film's flagrant use of the familiar superhero narrative, along with several other clichés that should have died years ago, including the love interest who ends up as a damsel in distress (a plot device which is repeated in the film's sequel). The film's narrative doesn't work because, in my opinion, the characters are too shallow for me to care about, to the point that I found myself wanting to root for the Green Goblin more than Spiderman. That itself is sad because the Green Goblin is an ultimately hackneyed and cartoonish super-villain, but somehow he's more of a well-written character compared to the insufferable twerp known as Peter Parker. I'll admit that the visuals, special effects, and fight scenes are competently executed, but the film as a whole is ultimately shallow, just like the vast majority of comic book superhero films, and yet somehow, its producers think it passes as entertainment. While it's not as terrible it could have been, it's too pretentious and riddled with narrative clichés for it to be anything more than a mindless superhero film.

Waterworld
Waterworld(1995)

When it was released, it was the most expensive movie ever made, but it failed so badly that it wound up being a waste of whatever grand ideas the writers had. To be completely fair, this actually looks like it could have been a decent movie, but I can't help but think that it's basically Mad Max if there was water everywhere and nobody thought to drink. That aside, nothing about the plot makes any sense, and with no explanation given for much of the plot, you're going to wonder what's even happening, why it's happening, and why you should even care. The action scenes are the best part of the movie, and they're actually quite decent. While the numerous flashy explosions might be pleasing to the eye, the rest of the film is hindered by forgettable characters, a story that doesn't much sense, bland colours, and Kevin Costner on a bad acting day. Costner's character, no matter what happens, is also nearly impossible to sympathize with, and the film seems to present more and more reasons not to like him, or any of the other characters for that matter. If Waterworld had more of a competent cast, a story that was at least remotely intelligent, and if the film-makers handled their ideas with greater care, then this movie could actually have been decent, but instead, we get an extravagant flop that they may as well bury with Altantis.

Snow White and the Huntsman
½

In all fairness, this film could actually have worked, but the film's fatal flaw was billing itself as a re-telling of Snow White. Unfortunately, this is one of those films that pretentiously tries to make an old fairy tale darker and gloomier, but in an action-oriented context. This combination can easily work without the fairy tale attached to it. In fact, if the same exact film wasn't even called Snow White, it might have been much better. As it is, the narrative is very flawed, with numerous plot turns that make very little sense. It's essentially the kind of narrative that requires heavy suspension of disbelief if you want to lose yourself in it, and relying on the viewer's suspension of disbelief is a very bad gamble for a film-maker to take. The characters aren't very special, and although Charlize Theron's performance certainly stands out, and although the cast was certainly well-picked, all the acting in the world couldn't fix this film. The visuals, I must admit, were very pleasing to the eye, and showed a rather promising fantasy setting, but you can't make a good film on visuals alone. Aside from that, a lot of the fantasy context this film provides is quite misplaced, and the end result is a nonsensical re-telling of Snow White that settles only for competent direction.

Moonrise Kingdom

This film presents a very interesting narrative, with its tale of true love in a time and place without it. Although this narrative isn't perfect, I found it to be a very rich in heart, depth, and real character. The pacing was also refreshingly straightforward, which adds to my lingering feeling that this is essentially a more mature version of a children's movie. This would certainly make a lot of sense seeing as it comes from an unadulterated childhood perspective, rather than the kind of idyllic embellishment one can expect from a movie about childhood love. As for the characters, I verily admired the realism of the performances, and that at the very least none of the characters made me want to cringe. The relationship between the two main characters is perhaps the strongest aspect of the film, because I could actually sense that the feelings between them were truer than their word. Let it be known that if a film-maker can successfully convince you that the feelings shared between two fictional characters are real, then the film-maker has successfully recreated real love on the silver screen, and that's ultimately what the film is about. Also worth noting is the film's whimsical sense of style, which works very well with the overall tone and atmosphere of the film. If there's any flaw with the film, it's that the narrative doesn't always make sense, and the ending ran the risk of ruining the whole message of the film. However, the film has enough humanity and real emotion that I can overlook its flaws.

Hobo With a Shotgun
½

Intended as a tribute to grindhouse cinema, this is a film that set itself up to be repulsive in every way possible, and while its defenders will say "that's the point", this ultimately proves to be what brings the film down. Being that this is a grindhouse action film, the writing takes a backseat to vicious, drawn out scenes of lurid gore and rampant immorality. The film's plot is essentially one random act of depraved, psychotic violence after another, and on and on it goes until the end. Personally, I fail to see how anyone can find any enjoyment in a film that parades its lunatic violence, which, far from fulfilling the artistic potential it had hoped to, just keeps getting so much more atrocious each time that it's increasingly more obvious that it's all just there for shock value. This would have been so much better as a comedy film rather than a splatterhouse film. As for the characters, there's barely any character to speak of, not with one-dimensional cookie-cutter personalities, and over-the-top acting that's somehow too creepy to even be considered hammy. At the very least this film looks the part that it was intended to play, but that's literally it. Even the action scenes are just as hollow as the plot. It's basically just extreme gore that, thankfully, doesn't qualify as a snuff film. Either way, it leaves a very foul taste, if not in the mouth then in the chest, and if not in the chest then in the soul. All the violence, brutality and iniquity are the signs of the truly talentless film-maker as he drowns in his own terrible mediocrity, dragging his film down into the bog with him.

Thank You for Smoking
½

Since I was 17, I have been attracted to this film. Back then, it was because I viewed it as an anti-smoking film that satirized the tobacco industry (for which I maintain a frothing hatred of). Today, this is still a big selling point for me, but I have a lot more critical experience, and thus I can say that this film is even better now than it was when I first saw it four years ago. The film is ostensibly satirical of the tobacco lobby, and through the film's main character Nick Naylor, this is done spectacularly well. However, the film deftly avoids being a one-dimensional anti-smoking film by also skewering the other side, showing the cunning, manipulation, and opportunism of both the tobacco industry and the anti-smoking movement. The performances were very skilful, sharp, witty, and positively scintillating, especially in the scenes where Naylor tries to connect to his son. The characters were brilliant, and the way they develop is always an interesting sight thanks to a stellar script and direction that is above reproach. The film opens with a stylistic homage to cigarette packaging, which I thought was little more than a stylistic way to open the film until the Senator unveiled his plan, which becomes the main plot of the film. A film like this would be boring without razor-sharp wit, and this film carries it in enough buckets to fill an open grave. In my opinion, this is one of the most intelligent comedies I've yet to see in film, and it's not just because of my usual leanings on the subject. Whatever you believe, I'm very certain that it is both as insightful as it is witty and entertaining.

Superman
Superman(1978)

Super is a word that invariably carries connotations of excellence and divine magnificence, and thankfully, Richard Donner's adaptation of Superman can live up to that. In fact, this is one of the only superhero films, and possibly the only Superman film, that proves capable of a strong narrative without the excessive emotional baggage we've come to expect of many superheroes. The story, though it does meander a bit from time to time, is a very entertaining adventure that doesn't always take itself seriously. It does come across as outlandish a few times (mainly because of the scene with Superman flying Lois Lane through space), but this film does this quite well. The performances show plenty of talent, and even though Superman himself isn't the most relatable kind of character, he performs so well that he comes across as a man who could get the job done and command respect. In effect, this would make him a kind of action hero. The visuals and overall style were fantastic, even though some scenes looked rather dated. More importantly, the scenes where Superman is shown doing what he does best are perhaps the most well-choreographed, and were simply impressive. Though it's not a flawlessly excellent film, it's still a very entertaining film in every respect, and for a film like Superman, that by itself is quite satisfying.

Star Trek
Star Trek(2009)

In every possible way, I'd like to let the word be known that this was one of the most overrated films of the past decade. It tried to breathe new life into the Star Trek TV series by recasting the original characters into a new continuity, but it failed miserably, and the end result so far from everything Star Trek was about that it wound up being a mindless sci-fi blockbuster. In this regard, the main problem was that the film's director, J.J. Abrams, wasn't even a fan of Star Trek to begin with. Under Abram's direction, the philosophy, nuances and intelligence of the original Star Trek series took a backseat to mounds and mounds of admittedly eye-catching, yet meaningless special effects. The story itself is fairly strong, but it would have been far better if they had made a film that wasn't even called Star Trek, and even then, it's ruined be a narrative composed principally of nonsensical sci-fi, demonstrations of the awfulness of this film's Captain Kirk, and of course vengeance. For me, the characters were the worst part. I found the film's reinterpretation of the Star Trek universe to be very shallow. I may not have liked the original Captain Kirk, but this film's Kirk makes the old Kirk look a lot more respectable. Even worse is that they try so hard to recapture the original performances, but you know that they just won't do it. Either that or Kirk's attitude is so fundamentally unlikable that he drags the whole film down. The film has good visuals, but it all seems extremely hollow. The visuals and the special effects serve as a very fragile mask for a terrible form. If that wasn't bad enough, the film bows out with the Star Trek theme, which should have been at the beginning of the film. That's the same exact thing they did in John Carter, and that movie was even worse. Certainly this film had ambition, but I think it needed a different director, and a different direction. What many fans loved about the original Star Trek may not be found in a film trying to appeal a newer audience. For me, trying to appeal to a mainstream audience was the biggest problem, because it means you see most of everything that made Star Trek great melt before your eyes in a sea of black holes and supernovas.

Hancock
Hancock(2008)
½

The opens with a lot of potential, with Hancock acting as a kind of irreverent satire of comic book superheroes. However, not long afterwards does the film deteriorate until there's nothing left but a schmaltzy ending. Rather than continuing the direction presented at the beginning, the film develops as an even worse version of Superman, and with a narrative so nonsensical that only a jury of hillbillies wouldn't object. The film's take on superhumans would be fine except for the fact that its explanation of there being two superhumans makes no sense considering the fact that in this film, superhumans lose their powers after they fall in love. I personally feel that this film attempts to send the message that having superpowers isn't so great, which is complete and utter nonsense. If I had superpowers, not only would I not need to live a normal human life, but I would also not have to care about what other people think. Meanwhile, Jason Bateman's character seems to think that all superheroes have to be nice guys who care about humanity more than themselves. The most painful part of watching this film was seeing Hancock turn into a lame Superman knock-off, only without any innate likability, and with all the charm of a Brazilian wandering spider. There were a few funny moments, but those were before the painful transformation from a likable juggernaut to a plastic mascot. This film could have been great, but it's plagued by a myriad of hackneyed Hollywood clichés that are so typical that I almost expected them. The best way to describe this is a film that starts out with much promise, but ends up constantly getting worse as it becomes obvious that the writers and producers were extremely lazy and pompous when they made it.

The Fast and the Furious

Even after watching this, I fail to understand why there needs to be so many films like this one. I understand that a lot of people like seeing cars blazing across the screen, and that's fine, but if you want a film with actual substance as opposed to glossily hyperbolic machismo, then you won't find it here. I will admit that this film competently delivers on the high-octane action, but it's a very hollow façade. Meanwhile, the writing in this film is lazy, rusty, and pretty much terrible in every possible way, resorting every possible plot and character cliché imaginable. Another problem I have with the film is that every character, regardless of gender, acts like they're constantly testy and a clear lack of self-restraint. Is that supposed to be macho? If so, then I'd rather not have chest hair. Through all the bad acting, the film constantly blasts a Molotov cocktail of rap music, angry "nu-metal" music, and electronic dance music. This frothy combination of populist music only dampens the atmosphere further, making it even less watchable. I just know right from the beginning that this is a simple film for simple people with simple tastes. In other words, it's a populist popcorn flick, devoid of artistic integrity or value, and this is only the first in an ungodly franchise that continued way past its shelf life. If this first film sets the standard for the other films, then I don't have any faith in the Fast and Furious sequels to speak of. After all, if you've seen one of them, you may as well have seen them all.

Scars of Dracula
½

Of the many Hammer films made about Dracula, this one ranks somewhere in the middle. It's not as bad as it could have been, but it's not nearly as good as the film that spawned all the others. In this regard, my first problem is that the film looks quite dated. To put it into perspective, the film was made and released in 1970, and yet it looks like it barely escaped the late 1950's. The film opens with a very unconvincing bat that looks so obviously faked that it's literally a joke. I'll admit that there's still some charm in the film's dated atmosphere, but I can't really take it for the serious horror film it was intended to be, and as Dracula descended into the realm of campy horror, this can't be a good sign. The story doesn't offer much either, being basically another cookie-cutter horror sequel. The acting is alright, but the characters lack depth, and the performances seem fairly rushed. If you're a really big fan of Hammer horror films, then this will be quite satisfactory, but for anyone else, I doubt that this film offers much in the way of substance. It has its moments, but other than that it's not very special.

Angel Heart
Angel Heart(1987)

Angel Heart is one of those films that sounds promising and manages to deliver. The film opens like one of those film noir mystery films, and progressively transcends into a rare breed of occult thriller, culminating in a fittingly diabolical mindscrew. In this regard, the narrative is constructed quite well, even though there are parts to which I think the writers owe more of an explanation. The performances are done very well, to a point that they lend the film a certain kind of edge, along with a sense of humour. I haven't seen a lot of film noir movies, but I imagine that this is similar to what they might sound like, and the film's atmosphere works on so many levels. Of course, this film specializes in effective plot twists, although these plot twists make for quite a convoluted narrative. You'll be very surprised when you find out what's going on at the end of the film, and I guarantee that by the time you reach the end of this dark, stylish mystery, it'll make you wonder about how the plot makes any sense. However, it's the mystery that makes this film so enjoyable, and this is a very engaging thriller capable of providing an entertaining, if sometimes messed up experience with its own rewards.

Shutter Island
½

This film is not one of those films that everyone can get. In fact, the film's fairly convoluted narrative could put some viewers off, especially considering that it's spread across 138 minutes. However, if you pay enough attention to the way events are set of motion, then, by way of analytical reasoning, the main idea of the film should become more obvious. To be fair, it's not one of the most complicated films out there. I've seen films with more complex narratives (for example, Alex Proyas' Dark City), but that's not to say that the narrative of this film doesn't have any merit. In fact, once I got into it, I found that the film was quite rich in substance, even though the story tended to move at a plodding pace. The characters were all played very well, and the convincingly realistic performances were effective at complimenting the overall tone of the film. The glum, murky visuals don't seem to offer much, but then the film changes from the real world to a more dreamlike state. Those rare moments are visually the most well done. Of course, the most important aspect of this film is its ability to create suspense and surprise, and the various plot twists do this well enough that the plodding pace of the plot isn't too much of a problem. It can be a little tricky to understand at times, but for the patient viewer, the experience is quite rewarding.

The Amazing Spider-Man
½

Personally, I think a more honest title would be "The Average Spider-man", since the film is literally nothing special. In fact, I feel that, in the already crowded genre of superhero action films (especially films based on Marvel characters), this film was a very pointless exercise, considering that we already had a trilogy of Spider-Man films that made a ton of money for the producers who made them. As if that wasn't bad enough, this movie is another contrived origin story focusing on the man behind the mask. In fact, the film spends about an hour on boring, pointless scenes of Peter Parker's life before we see Spider-Man doing what he does best. While the performance and overall character of Andrew Garfield's Peter Parker is an improvement over Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker, I still can't relate to him at all, and he comes as quite a jerk. Then again, so do his schoolyard chums. The acting isn't really special, but then, neither are the characters. It doesn't help that the script is riddled with narrative clichés, and many of the scenes just feel pointless. Even the film's biggest redeeming quality, the special effects, could make a big enough impression to distract me from the fact that this was a rather pretentious and very pointless film. For me, this film represents much of the excesses of the comic book film, complete with the tired, overdone narrative, and at 136 minutes, it's also way too long for something that should have been a straightforward action film.

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

There are those who would defend this movie on the basis of it being "pure escapism", or "unpretentious entertainment". Did any of the film's defenders actually sit down and watch it, or did they focus on that scene where one of the characters gets naked? With all seriousness, however, this movie is being awful. In fact, it's so awful, that it might just be the worst film ever made. In this regard, the biggest problem is the film's unbearably hackneyed writing. I've seen films with blatantly terrible writing, but let it be known. This film has the absolute worst writing I've ever seen. The movie follows the despicable trend of gritty, action-oriented fantasy retellings of public domain stories. In this case, it pretends to be a continuation of the story of Hansel and Gretel, but this film bastardizes the story so badly that it made its own events for before the story (which make so little sense that I just couldn't take it). The script itself is an intense atrocity, but what's even worse is how the film exploits every possible cliché from the Hollywood playbook, including a drawn out final showdown, and the lead female being undermined. Perhaps that's my biggest gripe with the film. The writers had the opportunity to create a strong lead female, but towards the end, they choose instead to beat her to a bloody pulp so that the lead male could have all the glory in saving the day. The writing isn't terrible, it's mind-numbingly sexist, and in an era where we should be expecting more than this dribble. It doesn't help that the characters are played by people who don't even know how to act. The other big thing that bothers me is the visuals and props. This film is essentially the unholy lovechild of Van Helsing and Wild Wild West, with deliberately anachronistic weapons, costumes and accents. The action scenes should have been the best part of the movie, but instead, they feel so empty and badly done that they serve no purpose other than for the sake of adding in gratuitous violence wherever the writers can. These are all the cries of a truly talentless film-maker as he drowns in his pitiful mediocrity for all eternity, just like this movie in all its shameful exploitativeness. I can safely say on behalf of the entire cinema-going public that this goes beyond B-movie territory. In fact, this is the kind of film that belongs on Syfy, rather than the silver screen. I know that Blades of Glory is still worse on a different level, but this movie is so deeply mindless and devoid of substance or artistic merit that it shouldn't exist, nor should I have laid eyes upon it. It may in fact be the worst action film of all time.

Mad Max: Fury Road

When I went to the cinema to see this film, I had pretty high expectations for it, and by the time then film had finished, I was blown away by a truly spectacular cinematic experience. This was one of those films that I knew would be an awesome ride from beginning to end, and you'll know it right from the start. While there may be a few things I could nitpick about the story, it is very engaging, and with all the high-octane vehicular action, you'll always be on the edge of your seat wondering if the main characters will make it alive, and if they do, you'll feel incredibly relieved. I know that's how I felt. The characters have a surprising amount of depth, and the performances are loud and proud, with the possible exception of Mad Max. This film's version of Max doesn't really talk much, but he develops significantly as character. He goes from being a tortured body and soul to being an incredibly self-confident hero whose actions speak louder than words. The visuals were outstanding, and although I'm aware that this is a CGI-laden action film, this is one of those films where the special effects work to the benefit of the cinematic experience rather than detracting from it. The cars, the costumes, and the environment all looked like they were done to perfection, in that they reflected the gloriously crazy, over-the-top nature of the film, although nothing hammers the point home quite like a flame-spewing guitar. The overall atmosphere is very intense, to the point that it's contagious. It keeps your eyes to the screen, and it really got my heart pounding. Of course, this film would not be complete with the action, and let it be known that this is debatably the most intense and explosive chase film ever to grace the silver screen, with relentless action scenes that you simply have to see to believe, and no description will ever do it justice. With all sincerity, I can say that this is perhaps the best film of the decade. It sets out to define itself as more than just a good action film. In fact, with the way the characters are depicted, and the film's excellent handling of the timeless themes of survival and tyranny, I'd say that this film is the definitive post-modern action film, and one that I feel will set the standard for future films in the genre.

Bullet to the Head
½

When I first heard of this film, it represented Sylvester Stallone's comeback as an action star. I can't exactly say I didn't get what the film promised, but what I got was a rather empty action film that desperately needed more substance. Frankly, this is one of those films where the title was infinitely more appealing than the actual film. Though I commend the film for its attempt at a more personal narrative, but it doesn't do this very well, with essentially the same writing clichés that plague most action films. The characters are nothing special, and they're all basically stock personalities. They aren't terrible, but they clearly deserve more personality, and the script doesn't help much. The film looks like it could have been a hard-hitting action film, but looks only go so far in action films, and this film's style of presentation is very typical. At the very least, the action scenes still pack a bit of the punch that Stallone's action films were known for, but it's ultimately quite tame. It's not bad, but it's the kind of film that doesn't really aim for anything above its station, and with no ambitions of being anything other than an action film that relies on nostalgia. I guess, however, that's the price we're expected to pay when it comes to actors who are now past their prime.

Kindergarten Cop

I can understand an actor wanting to expand his range. In fact, this can do wonders for not just an actor's career, but his or her skill on screen. For me, however, this film proves that Schwarzenegger is better at action films. Not that this is a bad movie. In fact, it's a film that actually shows a lot of potential as a comedy film. The story is a decent change of pace, but at the very first part, it seems not to make sense, not until we transition to the suburban setting. The main premise is rather silly and hard to believe, but the writing is solid, and the film builds up to a somewhat well-executed conclusion. The characters are alright, and their played quite well, although this is one of those films where Arnie steals pretty much all the limelight, which is rightfully so because he outperforms everyone else. Overall, this film was competent at both action and comedy, with a healthy dose of action, plenty of balanced humour (meaning that it isn't just a machine gun comedy film). It's not a bad film, but it's not as good as it could have been, but that doesn't make it irredeemable. In fact, if you've got nothing else, you could at least watch this, and it wouldn't be so bad.

Taken
Taken(2009)

What baffles me about this film is that a lot of people actually see something in this film, enough that it had two more sequels. My big question is why? Taken has got to be one of the worst action films I have ever seen, mainly because it's a very mindless exercise that that's more unpleasant than watchable. The story is very vapid and insipient in dangerous doses, and it also suffers from very bad pacing for a film that runs for 90 minutes. It opens by introducing us to shallow lives that I don't think you can get attached to, which is a very big problem if the writers expect you to feel sympathy for the film's victim or its main character. Speaking of which, the characters are not only sloppily written, but badly acted. I'm already very sure that I can't get attached to them, but many of the characters are simply unbearable, and even Liam Neeson's character sounds generally unpleasant. A big problem is that, after 20 minutes, the film spends pretty much all of its runtime being negative, and this affects the way it presents itself. It all looks unbearably gritty and lifeless, and that gave off a dull atmosphere that made the film boring to watch. Insipient, mindless, boring and unpleasant, this is a highly overrated film that doesn't deserve the success it got, and it fails as entertainment in every possible way.

Prometheus
Prometheus(2012)
½

Obviously this was a highly ambitious piece of sci-fi, but this ambition is the very thing that drags the whole film down. In fact, I would say that this is was a rather pretentious sci-fi film that got bogged down in high concepts that the producers clearly weren't able to handle properly without repeating the clichés that made the last two Alien films nearly unwatchable. The story suffers the most from poor pacing and boring characters. The characters and performances are alright, but they're just so boring that hearing them talk somehow makes the film feel longer. The story also seems to suffer from a lack of explanation of its ideas. I would be far more likely to get into this sort of film if I knew what was actually going on. A big problem is that the writers assume that you have a full understanding of films like Blade Runner, but I didn't even understand the first half of the film, and if that's the case, that can't be a good sign of what the full film has in store. To be honest, I can sense that there were some good ideas, but there's not enough explanation, and what we get is a semi-prequel to Alien that's about as pale and lifeless as it looks.

Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys)
½

It doesn't seem like a movie that's very confusing, but it's a very open-ended film. Not that those open-ended films are necessarily bad. In fact, they tend to offer a lot of complexity to the plot and characters, and let you use your imagination a lot more. While I like that, this film's narrative about a time-travelling prisoner is often a rather confusing one. I can't help but blame the film's narrative problems on its somewhat sluggish pacing. Sometimes, the plot moves so slowly that I find it hard to really get into the film, especially when it decides to go off on a thematic tangent. However, the characters and performances are quite good, to the point that I can really feel the sanity slipping from the characters. Bruce Willis' performance almost eclipses his performance on Die Hard, although it is very hard for me to feel for his character. Those problems aside, this remains a very interesting film. The presentation is spot-on, and the numerous twists are entertaining enough that you won't get completely lost because of the previously mentioned pacing issues. It's a bit of a mind-boggling film, but if you get it, then I think you might enjoy it more than I did.

Total Recall
Total Recall(2012)
½

Apparently somebody in Hollywood thought it was a good idea to do a remake of Total Recall. Almost immediately, two questions spring to mind. First of all, why did they do it? Paul Verhoeven's gloriously over-the-top action extravaganza with Arnold Schwarzenegger was already one hell of a film. There was no literally need to improve on it whatsoever. Secondly, how could they do it so horribly? Like pretty much all remakes of classic films, this film fails to capture what we liked so much about the original film, but this particular film fails so hard that it wallows in the centre of the earth. The story made absolutely no sense, and I get that this is a very cerebral concept, but this film delivers it very poorly, so much so that it almost relies on repeating lines from the original film. It would probably be much better if they didn't even call it Total Recall, so why did this film need to exist? The characters aren't even that good, with some incredibly poor performances from everyone, including the main character, who just comes across as another lame protagonist with no character development and thin personality. I'll admit that the visuals and special effects are done to a very professional standard, but they look and feel incredibly sterile, as do the action scenes. This, combined with the terrible writing, acting and marketing, ruined what could otherwise have been a fairly decent sci-fi action film. However, what really kills this film is its lack of ambition. It leans too much on the original Total Recall film, and yet it strays incredibly far from what it was, and what we get is a dull, directionless, uninspired and unambitious sci-fi flick that fails in nearly every possible way.

Red Sonja
Red Sonja(1985)

Red Sonja is by no means a terribly bad film. In fact, it should have been a classic fantasy film, but the truth of the matter is that the producers made certain decisions that doomed it. For starters, while the musical score was alright, and mildly pleasant for something so clichéd, but the sound effects sound like they weren't processed very well. That, however, is the least of my concerns. The story, despite being fairly uninspired, could have been alright, but it lacks focus and structure, and while the beginning and end of the plot make up a decent fantasy, everything in the middle just seems like scattered filler. At least the characters were alright, and the acting was okay, despite being fairly cheesy. However, the characters are quite stale, and no amount of manly boasts can add anything other than a few lightweight fight scenes. This film would have been terrible, but at least it has some neat visuals and set-pieces, and the fight scenes are quite decently choreographed. In short, it's enjoyable at an aesthetic level, and it's not terribly bad, but it feels lightweight and lacking in inspiration, and on the whole, it's not as great as it could have been.

Damnation Alley
½

Usually you can tell whether a film is going to be good or bad from your first impression of how it looks, and in the case of this film, I could tell right away that it was going to be a really bad film. The first sign of this was the way it opened. It was very brief and hurried along, and while the story isn't technically bad, it could have been far better. The whole film felt like it was rushed beyond belief, and that especially goes for its special effects. The film itself looks like a made-for-TV production, but it goes beyond that low with nonsensical killer cockroaches, and giant scorpions that are actually normal scorpions filmed up close and superimposed into the film. I've seen a lot of films with lazily bad special effects, but this is one of the worst examples I've ever seen. The characters are all mindless stock characters with dry performances, and their performances seem to convey the sensation that the actors were really unenthusiastic about the script. The only thing about this movie that was fairly decent was the soundtrack, but it doesn't really matter in the end. If you know right away that this is going to be a bad movie, then there's not a lot of hope for this film. Although, the fact that I expected the film to be this badly made is the only reason why I don't completely hate the film. In fact, I can't help but think that this is exactly what I expected.

The Crow
The Crow(1994)

For me, The Crow has all the makings of a classic action film, but with its own uniquely dark style, it stands out as very dark, gloomy, artistic and soulful revenge thriller. The story is very well-constructed, with dark edge and nuances of Tim Burton's Batman seamlessly mixed with the fast-paced action of Terminator 2, but better than both of them. For me, the biggest strength of the story is that it really makes you feel for the main character early on, as you go through his memories, gaining an understanding of his personality. The characters were all played to a rare kind of perfection, in that I was not expecting the entire cast of the film to have equally engaging performances. Of course, the late Brandon Lee's performance steals the spotlight completely, but every character emanates a very strong human touch. The film sports a uniquely dark sense of style, blending gothic visuals with an overall gritty tone that actually works. Coupled with the frankly awesome music, this makes for an unforgettable atmosphere, providing the perfect mood for the film's crown jewels - the violent and highly satisfying action scenes that help make the main character the kind of hero that can't be overshadowed. For me, this is the original dark action thriller. It would spawn many imitators, but none could really match the raw power and appeal of this classic film.

Diamonds Are Forever
½

As Bond entered the 70's, it was all too clear that the franchise was starting become a mindless parody of itself, and Diamonds Are Forever is perhaps the first film to illustrate that trend. The story constantly veers towards camp, and I say this because it doesn't seem as though there's any serious storytelling. If it's not camp, then at the very least it's weak to the point that I don't care. Sean Connery's presence and performance are what save this film from being a total waste of time, but even his performance seems to have suffered from what I can only describe as a total lack of enthusiasm for the project. At the very least the film's sense of style and presentation is still up to speed, but here, it rings very hollow, which I must admit is somehow appropriate, as the appeal of the Bond character had begun to ring hollow as the films began to repeat themselves more and more. To me, this film is the weakest of the Sean Connery Bond films, most likely because there was a general lack of enthusiasm behind it, and if you're doing anything creative (if you can call a Bond film creative), then the biggest obstacle is a lack of passion for what you're creating.

Wizards
Wizards(1977)
½

Although it's not the greatest of Bakshi's works, and although it may pale in comparison to other great works of fantasy, I consider this piece to be a fine work of avant-garde fantasy, so original and vibrant that it's a work of art by its own merits. The story paints a unique picture of a conflict between technology and magic, with technology being cast as a tool of evil, and magic being cast as a tool of peace. The story is told very well, with plenty of exposition delivered at the beginning and the film, so the rest of the events unfold at short yet straightforward pace. The voice acting was also really good, and I felt it brought out the characters quite well, with some occasionally humorous moments to liven things up. For me, the greatest part of the film was its visionary animation. Though the quaint charm of traditional animation might seem outdated nowadays, this film had a particular look that made it unique. Its combination of traditional 2D animation with live-action footage and psychedelic colours created a uniquely surreal fantasy landscape that I couldn't take my eyes off of. Overall, it was a great experiment in animation with a lot of character, and I think that's why it has aged better than many of its contemporaries.

Rock 'n' Roll Nightmare
½

At least the title of this movie is appropriate, because it really is a rock 'n' roll nightmare. While it certainly doesn't disappoint when it comes to heavy metal, there are times when it just feels overdone. The film itself tricks you into thinking it might be fun, but the story is rather muddled and confused. The characters are incredibly shallow and one-dimensional, and the acting is simply terrible, which I should probably expect from a cheaply made direct-to-video horror movie. The special effects aren't too bad, but the demons in this movie definitely look like they were made of latex flesh. Coupled with how ugly the demons look, this makes it impossible to take them seriously, which is a big problem since the film utilizes them a lot. The best way to tell that this movie had terrible writing is the abundance of sex and nudity. If sex appeal is the last refuge of a hack film-maker, than this movie must have been truly horrible, but that's not even the worst part. The film ends with a shockingly stupid plot twist, followed by what I'm sure is the worst final showdown in movie history, complete with terrible choreography that's even worse than The Spirit. Overall, while it's not the worst movie I've ever seen, it can't amount to anything more than a rock 'n' roll joke.

Groundhog Day
½

Groundhog Day may not be one of the funniest film of its time, but its subtle blend of comedy and drama make this an endearing story about a man trying to find new meaning for his life, along with trying to find love, as so many of these characters seem to do in Hollywood films. Probably the most jarring aspect of the film is the very plot element that makes it famous - the time loop. The time loop that Bill Murray gets stuck in isn't very well explained, though it is joked about in a rather well-written scene where the main character thinks he's a god. Meanwhile, the mood of the film changes quite often, but even though there isn't a lot of humour in the conventional sense, it's still a very pleasant film to watch. In my opinion this is because of two main factors. The first factor is the overall atmosphere, which seems to be very finely balanced, in that it's not too serious but not too goofy. The other factor is the performances, especially from Bill Murray, whose performances will most likely keep your eyes on the screen throughout the whole film. While it is overrated, I can't really see anything bad about the film other than the lack of exposition. It's not perfect, but it's still a good film that I'd recommend watching.

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
½

When I was younger I thought this was one of the best films ever made, but back then, I was quite a moron. In fact, looking back on it, I can't even believe I was even impressed by such a disaster of mainstream trash when I was 18. In many ways, this film represents everything that was wrong with mainstream 80's culture, and indeed Hollywood at the time. Perhaps the worst part about it was the story, which, not content with being another mindless time travel flick, seems to be infested with plot holes and all manner of illogical characters and plot devices. The acting is pretty bad, but the main characters have got to be some of the most insufferable human beings of all time, and the fact that you're stuck with them for 90 minutes is guaranteed to take its toll on your patience. If this where any time other than 1989, they would be so hated that I dare say they'd be sleeping on the streets. To me, it seems like the producers focused more on making the film look cool for its time than actually making a well-written comedy. In small doses, this film's approach would alright, but it overstays its welcome very quickly. The film pulls out nearly every 80's cliché in the book, including the dreaded air guitar cliché, and the end result is so ugly and foul that you'll wish you never laid eyes upon it. The worst part of all is that it's presented as a comedy film, but there's barely any laughs to speak of. In fact, the film's blatant display and promotion of idiocy isn't even in a satirical context. It's just mindless trash, and in the end, I think that's how future generations will remember it.

You Only Live Twice
½

If there was any point where the classic Bond formula started getting repetitive, in my opinion, it would be this film. To be fair, this film still has plenty of what made its predecessors appealing, but I feel that it hasn't aged as well. For me, my first problem is that the story started on a somewhat confusing note. I get that Bond faked his own death, but the manner in which he does it makes his survival less convincing. As the story continues, the film's sluggish pace becomes more obvious. As messy as the story gets, the performances are actually still pretty good. However, I don't like that Bond comes across as kind of a jerk in this film, especially as he tends to tread racist territory. The film itself has kind of a stereotypical portrayal of Japan, and indeed Japanese people, to the point that the film's lead female, Kissy Suzuki, is seen for half of the film wearing only a bikini. That aside, the film's writing and script problems aren't so bad that they ruin the entire film. In fact, the film still has a way of sucking you in with its visuals, exotic locales, and the music, although the noticeably dated special effects near the end are somewhat jarring.

Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro (The Castle of Cagliostro) (Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro)

Never has there been a more exciting and engaging anime film to grace the silver screen, and to this day, none have been able to top it. The story opens on a rush of energy, with the eponymous hero, a classically lovable rogue, having successfully robbed a casino only to discover that the money was counterfeit. His journey to find the source of the counterfeit money sees him through several amazing plot twists, complete with every trick he can muster, and it ends on a highly satisfying note. I found the performances to be outstanding, especially as they fit the film's comical approach. Every character in the movie gave a simply magnetic performance at least once, and because of this, I find that it's very hard to hate any of the characters. The animation was simply beautiful, and considering this film was made in 1979, it's amazing how well this film has aged over the past three-and-a-half decades. For me, however, the cherry on the sundae was how well it was all put together, both in terms of visuals and in terms of writing. For this and many other reasons, this is surely one of the best films ever made.

Superman Returns
½

Superman Returns was an appropriately ambitious film, aiming bring its eponymous hero into the 21st century. For the producers, this must have meant making everything as big as they could, to the point that they had a huge $200 million budget. However, this highly ambitious approach may have backfired, since the writing and acting wound up taking a backseat to the enormous special effects budget. Incidentally, the story goes on for around two and a half hours, which were mostly spent plodding around with barely decent performances. All the while, the writers attempted to present Superman as a more vulnerable and more human character, but I feel that this approach is useless because he is also presented as having enormous capabilities. The bottom line, for me, is that it's pointless and ultimately less believable to show a man with godlike powers as a sensitive and vulnerable character. Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth make for pretty unimpressive leads, especially since their performance fails to mask how unlikable and unrelatable they are as characters. The only good performance in the whole film came from Kevin Spacey (as Lex Luthor), but sometimes, he can come across as often uncomfortably pompous. Without a doubt, the best part of the film was the visuals, which were quite stunning, but at the same time, they seem so hollow and excessive. Combined with the plodding story, this only seems to make the film's approach more heavy-handed than it already is. To me, this film misses the point of a superhero movie. It's meant to be about fast-paced action with characters who we aspire to because they do things we can only dream about. In my opinion, Superman Returns doesn't work because, on top of Superman being simply unrelatable, I find that Superman was simply a tired concept to begin with. Because of how much of an uninteresting character Superman is, it's very hard to make a good Superman film, and this film fails because it was too fat, bloated and pompous.

Bicentennial Man
½

Right off the bat, this film makes me think, why do so many Hollywood directors aim for high-brow concepts and attempt to present them in the form of pretentious family films? Ever since Steven Spielberg's E.T., it seems like every film director wants to do this at some stage, and this film fails both as a show of sappy family-friendly sentiment, and as an intelligent sci-fi film (if you can this film intelligent). The story is so poorly written that it's an astonishing mess. I get that the writers tried to grapple with a lot of challenging subjects, but this entire film is the wrong way to do it. The story starts out as a schmaltzy family flick with a robot, and then progresses into an even more schmaltzy drama about the same robot tying to be more human. Towards the end, the film goes on a torrential flood of illogic so quickly that it's almost baffling. The film goes on and on about its robotic main character trying to establish himself as a human being, to the point of wanting death, but the cold hard fact is that if you were a robot to begin with, you will always be a robot. Perhaps I'd be more comfortable with the film if it delivered its message without all the sappy, pretentious noise typical of family fare, and the performances don't help the cause at all. Through it all, the film's biggest direction was that it lacked the kind of direction and heart that it desperately needed to get its message across, and the end result is somehow more mechanical the man the writers expect us to love.

Last Action Hero
½

This film may have been intended as a satirical jab at the glut of formulaic action films that were being released in the 80's and 90's, but not only does it fail at that, it fails at being a decent action film. The biggest problem is that the plot is completely ridiculous. For me, the film could have been more satirical if the whole film played out like an action film that didn't always take itself seriously, as opposed to the whole "magic ticket" approach. As soon as the "real world" setting was laid out, this film started to feel like more of a generic family film, and it's not as though Jack Slater's world is any better, because the people in it look and act so out of touch with reality that it's outdated. The film was made in 1993, and yet everyone in Jack Slater's world acts like it's still 1986, and for once, that's not even remotely charming. The acting is alright, and Charles Dance's performance in this film is truly underrated, but the characters constantly act so ridiculous. The problem with a setting that gives characters licence to act like they're in a Hollywood movie is that they always take it too far. To take this film for what it is requires not so much a suspension of disbelief, but a complete silence of disbelief, and for someone like me, that's strictly impossible. To sum it up, it's a bad joke as a blockbuster film, and a near absolute failure as an action film. I'll admit that the film does have plenty of enjoyable moments, but at 131 minutes, this tedious relic of the 90's will most likely cause some of your brain to melt.

Rush Hour 3
Rush Hour 3(2007)

Given that this film was released six years after its predecessor, you'd think that the producers would have adopted a new approach for this film. Instead, they somehow came to the conclusion that people wanted to see a rehash of the previous Rush Hour films. The most obvious problem with this film is that it's afraid to take risks. Throughout the whole film, the characters act so much like the previous film that it actually comes across as tired and hackneyed, with Chris Tucker's character making more the same old jokes, just with some added racism thrown in. As for the story, let's just say that the only good thing I can say as that it at least gets to the point. All in all, the story is essentially a cheap rehash of what would have been seen in the previous films, complete with yet another triad plot. The change of scenery adds nothing, and also does nothing to disguise a generally poor attempt to milk the success of an outdated buddy cop formula. Even the action scenes feel repetitive, but what's worse is that the producers seem to have neutered some of the violence. The only thing worse than making a cheap rehash of a previous film is watering the film down in order to attract a wider audience, and thus hopefully making more money. To be fair, the film itself isn't strictly terrible. In fact, it does have a few decently funny moments, but it's criminally unnecessary, and it lacks everything that made the original films fun to begin with, and even if it didn't, it's simply too familiar, too safe, and too loaded with clichés for it to have any real entertainment value.

Thunderball
Thunderball(1965)

The enormous success of Goldfinger seemed extremely hard to top, and unfortunately, Thunderball would end up seeming all the more inferior because of it. Once you get past that, there's the other problem: it's one of those films that runs in excess of two hours. The problem with that is that the story doesn't make use of those two hours, and so what we get is an overstretched action flick that tries to turn 100 minutes into 125 minutes. Thankfully, the film is saved by Sean Connery's predictably magnetic performance. In a film that features more acting than action, this is a necessity. The film looks as though nothing has changed since its predecessors, which is understandable since it was released only a year after the last Bond film, and to the film's credit, the visuals and music are still very lovely indeed. The film also has a number of beautifully shot underwater scenes, and for me, those are the film's best moments because they make the film stand out. Though it could never reach the heights of its predecessor, it's still a good film by its own merits, and it still has that classic Bond atmosphere.

The Cat Returns
½

This film is probably one of the finest films made by Studio Ghibli, even though Hayao Miyazaki didn't direct the film. The way I see it, the film is essentially like Spirited Away (currently the most popular Ghibli film), although much shorter, and with much more of a whimsically comical and overall positive tone. The story starts as a surreal comedy about a schoolgirl's adventure with cats, and ends as a swashbuckling tale much like in the days of Errol Flynn. The film may only be 75 minutes long, but to me, it's a very straightforward fantasy adventure. To be frank, making it any longer would only hinder the film's pacing. What the makes the film so charming to watch, aside from the beautiful animation, is the stellar performances given by every character, be it from the main character, the Baron, or the king of the cats. The English voice cast delivers in every possible way, and they add a level of charm that is absent from many of its American animated contemporaries. Although the ending was a bit too much of a magic solution ending, the film is a highly engaging fantasy that I couldn't take my eyes away from, even with the very vague presence of saccharine overtones.

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Although this film directly continues from the story of the first Hammer Horror Dracula film, and generally presents itself in the same style, this by-the-numbers sequel does little to arouse the same thrills that made the first film great in the first place. In this regard, the biggest problem is that the story and characters seem so haphazardly assembled that it kind of takes out of the film. Then again, horror films have rarely been accused of being clever. At the very least, the film moves at such a balanced pace that the film doesn't feel like too much of a contrived, overcooked sequel. The characters (barring Dracula) may be uninspired, but their performances actually make up for plenty of the flaws in the film's writing. The film does, however, have quite a palatable atmosphere, and the gothic visuals, once again, are used to good effect. However, that doesn't make up for a general lack of satisfying thrills from a generally tired and almost incoherent sequel that seems to only exist for the purpose of capitalizing on the then-lucrative Hammer formula.

Goldfinger
Goldfinger(1964)

It could be argued that the Bond franchise overstayed its welcome many years ago, but this film is the best example of when the Bond franchise meant anything. In fact, this is the only Bond film where everything was done to absolute perfection. The film introduced many of the gadgets, quotable lines, and writing conventions that would not only become trademarks of the Bond franchise, but also set the standard for an entire genre of spy films. That being said, this is the only spy film out there that implemented them without it being corny and unoriginal. The story might seem a bit preposterous for some viewers, but for this kind of film where this sort of thing actually works, and the pacing runs very smoothly. The performances, in my opinion, are the best in the whole franchise, with extremely well-rounded characters, whether they're the major or the minor characters, and for once, Bond and his enemy perform on equally fantastic levels. The film itself looks highly polished, and is one of the few films out there that has a timeless quality to it, which is bolstered by the film's soundtrack. Everything about this film was done right, and although this formula was imitated several times (especially by later films in the same franchise), there's only one film that could implement its particular approach with style, dignity, and confidence that make this film the finest Bond film ever made.

The Devil Rides Out
½

Although the writing is somewhat dated, The Devil Rides Out is a fine example of a well-aged cult movie that delivers both in terms of wild ideas and more than adequate thrills. The story is perhaps the weakest link in the film's façade, considering that the core concept seems to have been written in quite a clichéd manner (which might have been more unique when the film came out), and the ending is quite nonsensical and weak. However, the pacing works very well, to the point that the film never seems to get tedious. The characters and their performances also help the cause immeasurably, although all the characters are inevitably overshadowed by Christopher Lee's classically magnetic performance. Surprisingly enough, the visuals have held up very well, and the film's conservative use of special effects adds to the atmosphere, which by itself set the tone for a thrilling film with plenty of surprises in store. Overall, though it's not a classic, it's a very entertaining cult film that's bound to win over even the more sceptical moviegoers.

The Devil's Rain
½

This is the kind of film that could have actually been good to watch, but it's plagued by more than a few problems, and that's more than just because of its low-budget. As far as cliché Satanic horror premises go, this film has one of the more creative variants. However, whatever creative potential this film has is wasted in a film that's suffering a shortage of substance. In fact, there's one scene that doesn't even relate to anything else in the whole film. There's not a lot of context behind the story, and absolutely minimal exposition. There's not enough substance to fill a full-length feature film, and so what you get is a B-movie trying to masquerade as an art film, but it fails as both. The characters tend to come across as typical, but I can't completely put the film down for it, since Ernest Borgnine actually gives a pretty good performance here. Shatner, meanwhile, just seems like he's here for his paycheck. I find it pretty hard to believe that this was made on a low budget, because some of the set-pieces look pretty good, and the special effects are fairly decent too. However, what's any of it worth when you're looking at a horror film that isn't scary at all? It could have actually been quite a good film, but due to some evidently poor decisions, we get something that, while not completely terrible, is inadequate as both a horror film and as silly cult entertainment.

Airplane!
Airplane!(1980)
½

Amongst the myriad of spoof films that have emerged, Airplane is by far one of the best, and certainly the most original. I'll admit that the story isn't too well written, but this kind of film about the story. In fact, cliché-ridden story in this film actually works because they're there for the purpose of parody, which this film does well. Aside from that, the pacing was quite light and comfortable, so none of the scenes felt particularly contrived or bloated. The characters are admittedly the weakest part of the film, but these stock characters are part of the joke. The performances also make up for the fairly weak personalities of the characters they play. In other words, this is a film that's funny enough that you don't have to take the characters seriously. The film itself looks quite polished, and is very good at presenting itself, but its main asset is its arsenal of in-your-face jokes and downright crazy gags. Often, it can come across as a bit juvenile, but the jokes are done well enough that it doesn't matter. It's completely silly, and that's what makes it a great film in the first place.

From Russia With Love

Although this film is undeniably weaker than its predecessor, this film has a lot of the charm and thrills that made Dr. No great to watch. The story lacks the energy that the previous Bond film had, and the pacing seemed much slower, though the essence of a good thriller still shows, and there's a noticeable absence of the kind of throwaway gimmicks that the later Bond films would abuse to near death. The performances are actually the best part of the movie, with Sean Connery's incarnation of James Bond yet again delivering a characteristically suave performance that seems to pardon much of the film's flaws. The other characters perform almost as well, but as far as characters go, they aren't really that interesting compared to Bond. The film's sense of style continues on, but there's not much real innovation here. Thankfully, the thrills made up for the film's lack of energy in spades. The film itself wasn't exactly original, but it was entertaining nonetheless, in a way that only one of the classic-era Bond films could be.

Planet of the Apes
½

Although the beginning of the film, along with a few other elements of the plot, is lacking in exposition, this film is a prime example of innovative, well-aged sci-fi, and one of the best films of its time. The story, though it has a few holes, is very well-constructed, and highly engaging with its tantalizing and often thought-provoking concepts. The performances show a lot of character, vitality, emotion, and intelligence that I feel are missing from many of today's CGI-laden sci-fi blockbusters, and the best of all is the performance of the film's leading man, the late Charlton Heston, whose performance in the film reaches its peak as the film ends. The film innovates both in terms of concept and in terms of special effects. Before this film, a lot of creature make-up looked very cheesy, but this film's iconic apes are so well-made and well-played that they stand the test of time, as does this film. The best part of all is that the film itself didn't feel rushed, or too slow. It's not the best sci-fi film out there, but felt that I could enjoy the film the way the film-makers intended it, and surely that's the sign of a well-made film.

Edward Scissorhands

I used to think that this film was massively overrated, but that was because I looked at it with too much of a logical perspective in mind, and in doing so, I may have missed the point. In fact, now I think the film is a metaphorical, symbolic work of art, and I say this because I believe that I can see what the film-makers might have been intending. The story was very well-constructed, although the pacing might have been a bit hampered by the writers' attempts to pass it off as a kind of modern fairy tale (as evidenced by the narration at the beginning and end of the film). The characters, meanwhile, offer a rich portrayal of the society that has taken the eponymous main character into their world, and, in my opinion, would subsequently serve to warp the character. For me, the film also serves as an artistic portrayal of naivety, both in youth and in suburbia, and it presents an image of an artifice that is exploited by the very people who took him in, in addition to its reflection on Tim Burton's own feelings from when he felt he was an isolated youth. That, for me, made it very thought-provoking, and the ending was also very satisfying.

Stir Crazy
Stir Crazy(1980)
½

This is one those films that could have been really funny, but it simply fails in a lot of areas. To be completely fair, the story is sensibly written, even though the film's ending somehow makes very little sense. However, a big problem I have with the story is that too much of the film is spent on building up to the main plot, and this is a film with not enough time to spend on back-story. In fact, I contend that some scenes, including the unnecessarily drawn-out prison rodeo, felt like they shouldn't even be in the film at all. The characters don't really react to their situation in a comic way, although their performances, I must say, are quite decent. Really, I find that this film feels like a formulaic comedy film that spends too much time developing its central premise, and not enough effort on what could have been a great script. It does have some genuinely funny moments, but those don't make up for a botched effort. This could have been a really good movie, but something went wrong, and the strange thing about it is that I can't really figure out what mistake the producers ultimately made.

Starman
Starman(1984)

Almost immediately, Starman comes across as an attempt to capture the same sentimental mojo that made E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial a box-office smash. While this particular film is certainly more bearable in that regard, it still reeks of the kind of Spielbergian schmaltz that's almost guaranteed to make a ton of money. The story isn't really well written, which I would probably expect from a movie that is so obviously trying to cash in on Spielberg's more success sci-fi smash. However, I find that the performances at least make some attempt to bring genuine human emotion, even though all trace of a human touch seems to consistently get overshadowed by the prevailing air of sentimentalism. That being said, what makes the film somewhat watchable is that, in terms of sentimental schmaltz, it's not really forceful in its approach, and the film itself moves at a leisurely pace, but that tends to work to the film's disadvantage. In all honesty, it's not a bad film, and with its careful direction, it manages to avoid being saccharine in overly painful levels, although the ending doesn't help the cause by much.

Dr. No
Dr. No(1962)
½

This film is perhaps one of the most definitive representations of the archetypal jet-set playboy lifestyle that was the escapist dream for many in the 1960's. Though somewhat dated, this first Bond movie is still great entertainment because of its undeniable charm and magnetism. Admittedly, this is mainly because of the main character, whose role is performed with the kind of confidence and suave charm that is expected of someone like James Bond. The film's overall appeal, however, is due to more than just the character of Bond. The story is well-written and is paced well enough that it's not a chore to watch it, like so many of the later Bond films would become. The overall style of the film is simply gorgeous to look at, and every element of it - from the visuals to the soundtrack - sets the tone for an ideal escapist fantasy, complete with a mix of thrills, action and a bit of humour every now and then. It is dated, but it's aged very well, and it certainly hasn't lost its entertainment value or charm.

To Sir, With Love

Though visibly and conceptually dated by today's standards, this film has aged very well, if mainly due to the incomparable performances of its cast (especially those of Sidney Poitier). At first glance, this film might seem like any other British school drama made in the 1960's, with each one having claimed to deal with social issues. This film, I feel, is more realistic than most of those films because it at least tries to offer multiple perspectives. In fact, Sidney Poitier's performance gives a sense of reality to the situation shown in the film, and that's more than could be said about any other film of its kind. The film also presents itself with a degree of realism and grit that, I feel, matched the then-contemporary setting. For me, the drama was compelling because it was more human. The whole film has an earthy, forthright quality to it that many films today lack, and that's what made it so good to watch.

Beverly Hills Cop II

Right from the beginning, this sequel to Beverly Hills Cop seems to give more of an impression of confidence than the first film did, and that seems to be a trait shared by many film sequels (though mostly in the action genre). But it's not enough for a film to exude a more confident approach if it doesn't fully translate into a superior film. I say this because, while the performances are pretty enjoyable, the writing is rather lazy, and suffers the kind of deterioration that is almost inevitable with most sequels. That being said, it may not be cleverly written, but it certainly knows how to make up for it. The production values are certainly better than its predecessor, and the film's soundtrack is top-notch stuff. Even if the film lacks spectacular action scenes, the film still has a saving grace in Eddie Murphy's hilarious voice. It's not as good as its predecessor, but then, most sequels aren't anyway. Aside from that, the film itself is fun enough that the positive aspects tend to outweigh the negative aspects throughout the whole film, and if I can sit through the whole film without focusing on the negatives, that's good enough for me.

The Killer Inside Me
½

This is a film that will inevitably put the viewer in a difficult position for many different reasons, though many of those reasons will involve violence. While not necessarily terrible, the story is paced quite slowly, but it seems so caught up in its orgy of relatively tame, yet quasi-sexist violence that it ends up going nowhere. The characters don't work as well as they should, and that's mainly due to the fact that the performances aren't very convincing. I think the film-makers attempted this film to have some emotional context, but the performances seem all too clinical to make any emotional impact. The film does present itself better than its written, but it looks very bland and dry, and by the end, it'll look as though they ran out of money for the special effects (as can be seen by the cheap-looking fire effects). Whether it was divisive or not, there's one thing I can certainly say one thing for sure: it was incredibly disappointing and boring, though not completely terrible.

Wayne's World

If you're familiar with many of the clichés of the early 1990's, then you'll probably appreciate the film's sharp sense of humour, even if the writing tends to get a little bogged down by a few clichés that the film can't quite shake off. The story itself is very straightforward and quickly paced, and this pace seems to be quite comfortable. The characters are quite well-played, if mainly because their performance fits the kind of hard rock culture that the film unashamedly revels in. Of course, what should ultimately matter is the humour. The film's oddball style of humour - combination of memorable catch-phrases, pop culture references and sharp wit - frequently brings out laughs in a way few other films can. The film tends to come across as a bit moronic, but in the case of Wayne's World, that's the point. It's a bit dumb, but it works, and it's certainly a catchy film that has aged quite well.

Dune
Dune(1984)
½

Dune immediately comes across as a film that tried to be a highly ambitious sci-fi fantasy epic, but judging from the way the film was put together, it was executed badly. In this regard, the film's main problem is that, despite a fair amount of explanations, the plot is so confusing that I you can't really make heads or tails of it. Even as a fan of high fantasy, I had a hell of a bad time trying to wrap my head around what was going on that film. I don't mind having a high-concept storyline, but such an effort is ultimately futile if you can't follow the story. This is particularly bad because it means I can't even enjoy the characters, which is a shame because the cast is actually pretty good. The big problem is that it seemed as though not even the actors knew what was going on, so they just went along with so long as a pay check was at stake. The only parts of the film they did right were the set pieces and the special effects (although some of the special effects were a bit too bizarre). Simply put, it's a film that did better at looking good rather than delivering a consistent, tangible storyline. You could consider it the Waterworld of its day, but it's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, parts of the film actually show a lot of potential. Had the story been more simplified, I might have considered it an underrated gem. It's not terrible, but it's the kind of film with a lot of ideas (and a big budget) that went to waste in a sloppily made screenplay with unreasonably slow pacing.

Batman Begins

While I appreciate the attempt to restore the credibility of the Batman film franchise (which had been shattered by the unequivocally painful Batman and Robin), I think that this might not have been the best way to revive the franchise. My biggest criticism of the film is that it's essentially another origin story. To be fair, this is exactly you would expect from the title, but I'm generally annoyed by it because the origin story has already been done before in Tim Burton's Batman, where the origin story was implemented in a much better fashion. Here, the origin story is rewritten in a modern context, but the end result is focused more on brooding and drama than actual substance. The performances are alright, but I think Batman's performance is a bit too much on the rough side. He sounds like he has a sore throat that goes on for an entire trilogy of "Dark Knight" films. The film's overall style seems way too gritty and serious for my tastes, but I must admit that it works for the kind of modern Batman film that Batman Begins tries to be. As a modern take on a storied franchise, this film worked, but it wasn't as entertaining as I would have hoped, and ultimately proved to be a jarring experience, though not a bad one.

Babylon A.D.
Babylon A.D.(2008)
½

For every sci-fi film that's actually unique, there's about hundreds of other poorly made sci-fi films that claim the pretence of originality, but actually just parade around the same old clichés we've come to expect from dystopian sci-fi. This film, sadly, is no exception, and I say sadly because this film could have been more original. Aside from the general lack of originality, a big problem with the film was that it was paced too quickly. I've heard that the French version is longer, but it's not really my concern. The story was bad, but the characters were even worse. Poorly written, ill-conceived, and cliché-ridden are the only words I could possibly use to describe the film's painfully banal cast of characters. The film itself look terribly dull, almost as though only muted colours seems to exist in the world of this film. The action scenes may have had the most potential, but even they're botched to the point of mediocrity. To be fair, it's not the worst film out there. In fact, if a lot more effort were put into the making the film, it could have been better, but it appears that the film-makers were quite content with a mediocre film that's more boring than watching paint dry.

Star Trek VI - The Undiscovered Country
½

While this movie treads familiar Star Trek territory, it makes up for more than a few shades of redundancy with the kind of spectacle that only Star Trek could provide. The story may be a little redundant (what with the fact that it's another conflict with the Klingons), but it develops and is paced in such a way that the entertainment value overcomes any storytelling faults, and that's more than could be said for the previous movie in the franchise. The ensemble cast, thankfully, is comprised of veteran actors, and they know how to give convincing, engaging performances, using their talents as best as they can. The production values are quite impressive, and to a lesser degree, so are the special effects. This is the kind of movie that knows the kind of spectacle that its immediate audience would want. This is the kind of Star Trek movie any fan would want to see, and also the kind of sci-fi film that any novice to the genre might want to see, but the best part is that, for me at least, it wraps up the original canon of Star Trek films. It kind of makes me wonder why we needed more in the first place.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Epic in terms of scope and vision, Stanley Kubrick's sci-fi classic was not so much a film as a work of art. At times, the narrative can get a little cryptic, but on the whole, it was very unique and unfailingly engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed not only the cold, futuristic sci-fi atmosphere, but also the other elements, such as the famous "The Dawn of Man" act, and the ending, which was mysterious, surreal, and yet very captivating and exciting. The performances were nearly flawless, and I get the feeling that each character has the same significance. There wasn't one corny moment to be found, and the film certainly lacked all trace of slimy pretension. The film's greatest strength is its production values and its visual effects. The film itself looked gorgeous, but it's the special effects that communicated a kind of artistic value and otherworldly style that raised the bar for future sci-fi films. Even today, this film is unlike any other film you may ever see in your lifetime, and it may be impossible to top such calibre. It's this timeless quality that I admire so much, but it's the film's atmosphere that truly drew me in.

Tango & Cash
Tango & Cash(1989)
½

Even with a somewhat by-the-numbers plot, this film is very entertaining, in the way an action film should be. For me, the film benefits greatly from the strong chemistry between the eponymous main characters, who, in my opinion, are great roles for Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell respectively. They do well in this film because their performances bring a sense of humour to what would otherwise be a pretty dull popcorn flick. The film's other strength is that its sense of style (albeit, mainly the synth music) almost ensures a lively atmosphere from beginning to end. Of course, the film is mainly hindered by somewhat formulaic characters, and a few portions of the plot that could easily have been resolved in some other way. However, even the more stereotypical characters are at least played with competence, and the film certainly doesn't disappoint in terms of delivering on what I'm sure its audience really wants; the high octane action. Though it's somewhat flawed, I actually like this film because it's purely entertaining. It's not great, but it's good enough me, and I'm sure it's good enough even for an action fan with discerning tastes.

The Lazarus Project

This was a movie so awful that, by the time it was finished, I had no idea how to review it because there's almost nothing that could describe a movie so tragically terrible. Right from the start, the movie left a distinctly foul taste in my mouth with its cheap-looking production values. I wouldn't be surprised if this was made for a direct-to-DVD release, and that kind of movie is usually so bad it shouldn't even be on TV, but somehow, there's a TV channel out there with a poor taste in films. The story tries to be like one of those complex thrillers that engages the mind, but fails in every area because the movie is so boring that it makes the plot extremely hard to follow. As an added insult, performances are all hackneyed and terrible, and there's not even so much as a glimmer of enthusiasm or talent. This is the kind of movie that, as soon as you look at it, you know you're in for a bad experience, and once you've seen it, all you can do is warn other people of how terrible it is. My only advice is this - stay away from this horrible movie!

War of the Worlds
½

Of all the remakes of older films Hollywood has ever made, this one is by far one of the most pointless remakes ever made. Everything about that movie seemed artificial and out of place no matter what the context, mainly because the film tries to mix sci-fi thrills with human drama, a mix that frequently proves disastrous thanks to the abundance of Dakota Fanning's terrible screaming. Speaking of bad acting, every character in this film acts far too panicky, to the point that their paranoia seems almost completely insincere. What also doesn't help is Tom Cruise, a lead so poor for this movie that it's almost as though he was picked just for the sake of him being in the lead role, which is odd because I know he can play a lead role far better in other films. The special effects aren't too bad, but the whole film looks empty and lifeless, and that's mainly because most of the colours appear to have been muted. To me, the film felt so empty that its blatant self-indulgence overshadowed whatever message the film-makers intended it to have, and anything good about the film will easily be overshadowed by the overall poor quality. Ultimately, these traits are typical of a film that was made in vain.

Scanners
Scanners(1981)
½

Famous for the gratuitous head explosions, this was a very ambitious film with unique ideas. As bold and entertaining as it is, however, it did disappoint on a number of expectations. I thought a film famous for head explosions would be a bit more violent, but it's more of a psychological film. It's kind of a good thing, considering the violence that actually happens in the film, but the pacing made the film feel like it came and went a little too quickly. Perhaps this is because David Cronenberg, the film's director, opted for this to be a film that progressively turned into a mystery thriller, as opposed to a straightforward horror film, which could have actually worked much better. Meanwhile, the subtle performances of the characters manage to capture the serious tone of the film with a little more of a nuanced direction than the thrills. If the film succeeds in any area, it's the darkly subtle style that the film displays, and the head explosions don't disappoint. It's not as great as some horror fans might make it out to be, but I actually like it. It's a good film, but it disappoints to the extent that it leaves me wanting more.

Star Trek V - The Final Frontier
½

While I didn't find this film to be as bad as many critics claimed it was, I certainly feel that it doesn't meet the quality standard that could be expected from Star Trek. The first thing that struck me was that the film opens with a variation of the theme from The Next Generation, which was odd considering that this is based on the original series (which I'd have thought had been milked for all its worth by the mid-1980's). The story itself isn't particularly terrible, but I think it could have been written with more effort behind it. Much of the story just passes me by as though nothing happened, and the downgraded special effects and rusty action scenes don't help the cause. The acting seems to be the film's saving grace, even if William Shatner's performance seems to be mostly derivative of his performance on the original TV series. The beginning of the film actually shows some humour, but the rest of the film takes itself more seriously, and this tends to work against this kind of film. Of the original Star Trek films, it's definitely the worst, but had the writing, script and special effects been handled with more care, it could have been better.

Blues Brothers 2000

The first question that immediately comes to my mind is this - who asked for a sequel to the Blues Brothers, let alone one that was made nearly two decades after the original? The whole film seems like it came out of a cryogenic freezer, because every aspect of the film felt terribly outdated. The story comes across to me as a slap in the face of common sense. Why would a group of people give up lucrative careers just to make bluesy R&B that clearly doesn't matter anymore? Speaking of that, the acting isn't too bad, but it seems like the actors didn't even care. Dan Aykroyd at least tries to act his way out of a bad movie, but in the end, it's too late. In my opinion, the film actually would have been better if it weren't loaded with special effects, and they even cut corners in that department. Aside from a fairly decent cover of "Ghost Riders in the Sky", there's nothing of merit. It's a film that's stuck in the 1980's, all while carrying that gimmicky "2000" label, which only further cements this film as a bitter old fossil.

The Wind Rises

For his final film, I think that Hayao Miyazaki ended his career with a resplendent swan song, replete with the characteristics of a quintessential Miyazaki film. While the film styles itself as a biopic, it deviates from historical fact just enough that what the writers added is far more entertaining. The acting is certainly top-notch (keeping in mind that I'm reviewing the English-language version), and the characters show a lot of personality, and this, I feel, gives the film much of its vibrancy, and also the vital human touch that Miyazaki seems to yearn for in his films. As usual, the animation is stunning, and I dare say that this is perhaps one of the best looking films of the 2010's so far. For me, the film's only real weakness would be that the ending was a little predictable, but aside from that, it was a very good film. Even though it's not as good as other Miyazaki films such as Howl's Moving Castle or Princess Mononoke, it's always best to end your career on a high note, and in that regard, The Wind Rises definitely succeeds.

Heavy Metal 2000

The original Heavy Metal film was a classic film, so any sequel to that film would naturally have a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, what we ended up getting was a low-budget rehash of the "Taarna" plot from the original film, reduced to the level of bad film-making brought to uncomfortable lows. The producers have obviously cut corners everywhere possible. The characters are one-dimensional at best, and the acting is even worse. The story is tired and cliché-ridden, with none of the enchantment or the energy of the first film. In fact, the writing is so terrible that the film frequently has to resort to abject sleaze and gore. The film itself looks like a cheaply made Saturday morning cartoon with terrible 3D effects (which I'm pretty sure is where most of the budget went). The film's pacing and atmosphere is also hindered by the bad scene transitions, which always seem to take you out of the film. The film is obviously more violent than its predecessor, but this time, it's all completely shallow. Everything in the film seems to be a poor attempt to rehash the plot of the "Taarna" vignette found in the original Heavy Metal. Variety and creativity are what made the original Heavy Metal movie great, and this film has neither, and the end result is a film that only a horny redneck teenager would like. Aside from the music, nothing about this straight-to-DVD disaster is even worth mentioning. It's an embarrassment not just to everyone who was involved in its production, but also to anyone who's had the misfortune of seeing it.

Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf(1985)
½

This is the kind of film that could only have been made thirty years ago. After all, it has all the hallmarks of an 80's teen flick: synthpop soundtrack, the high school clichés, and nearly every character coming across as something of a jerk. The story certainly follows the generic high school formula, save for the main character being able to turn into a werewolf. I think this could have had a lot of comedic potential, but it whatever potential there is was wasted on a script that is bereft of humour, and a cast of character that do what we'd expect them to do anyway. The film's strongest point is its overall style, but that's mainly because of its enjoyable soundtrack, and that's the only thing about this film that makes it a guilty pleasure at best. At worst, however, it's an aggressively banal exercise in exploiting the popularity of the teen movie, with little innovation if at all.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The first Terminator film may have been a classic film, the sequel was the definitive action film of its time, and is just as great a film. In my opinion, this film got everything right. The story was solid and excellently paced, and all the loose ends are tied very effectively. The characters were enjoyable, but not just because of an assortment of one-liners. Their performances had the kind of depth and human touch that is missing from too many films these days, and most of the characters have a kind of instant appeal. The special effects are vastly upgraded from the first Terminator film, as is the eponymous machine. There are few films that use CGI as creatively and effectively as this film, which is replete with the kind of explosive energy that is now unfortunately rare in both sci-fi and action films. Speaking of action, this film takes a distinctly more action-oriented approach compared to the first Terminator film, which was a sci-fi thriller with dark overtones. Strangely enough, however, this approach works very well because of the film's perfect balancing of sci-fi, action, violence, and character. Even though I preferred the first Terminator film, this film is still very much an enduring classic that earned its fame and popularity.

RoboCop 3
RoboCop 3(1993)

By and large, this movie was essentially a rehash of the previous RoboCop films, stripped of nearly everything that made the original RoboCop film great, and anything that made RoboCop 2 even slightly worth watching. Although I'll admit that the movie has its fair share of enjoyably silly moments, the whole experience felt scaled down, and this has a detrimental effect on the overall quality of the film. The acting was noticeably sub-par, and what didn't help is that they recast RoboCop. For me, the absence of Peter Weller from the title role is the worst part, because Weller was able to really deliver good performances as the title character. This film's version, however, seems far more lifeless than previous incarnations, and no hints of personality can change that. The production values were decent, but they seem very outdated, especially in the more CGI-heavy scenes, which suffer a kind of redundancy that usually happens in the third movie. The action would be a redeeming quality, except much of it has been neutered, presumably to attract a wider audience. There's really nothing much left to say, except that it was a poor exercise at rehashing a movie that had already tapped whatever potential the series had. Although, as far as pointless movie sequels go, I'd say that there are far worse films out there.

Signs
Signs(2002)

This was the kind of movie that is so lifeless that it doesn't even stand out. It's not bad enough that it's irredeemably terrible, but I found it to be an overly sentimental, cliché-ridden bore that indulges in its own wastefulness. The characters aren't believable in any way, and not even a clearly jaded Mel Gibson can lift this movie from the pit of banality. I also find that the child characters tend to act way too much like their trying to curry a sentimental reaction from the viewer. The film itself is heavily reliant on the formula that made The Sixth Sense commercially viable. Given the already laughable choice of subject matter, this makes for an extremely unoriginal movie, and in that regard, M. Night Shayamalan apparently came to the conclusion that there's no better way to end an unoriginal movie than with a cheesy, poorly rendered cliché evil alien. Unoriginal, devoid of entertainment value, and overly sentimental, this movie is guaranteed to make those with more discerning tastes wonder why they even bothered to watch it in the first place.

True Grit
True Grit(2010)

Unlike the John Wayne version, this film focuses on the perspective of the young girl, which, in my opinion, creates a far stronger perspective. The story itself is well-paced, and though sometimes the narrative isn't wholly convincing, the way the story is set up paves the way for an enjoyably gritty western. The characters themselves are appropriately serious, and the performances, while not always moving, encapsulate the grittier side of the Old West. In my opinion, the best performances came from Jeff Bridges, who single-handedly turned what was just another cowboy hero into a unique character with a more distinctive personality, and in the end, he develops into an all-round likable character who, despite his flaws, is certainly good enough to get the job done. Perhaps the best part about the film is its visual style, which, in many ways, could accurately represent the Old West, and I say that because of the gritty visuals, the setting, the costumes, and the overall tone, which is set so well that it was completely convincing. Even if it's not the best western out there, it's certainly a welcome addition to a genre that supposedly went out of fashion many years ago.

Ted
Ted(2012)

The concept for this film is simple, yet original, and funnier than most episodes of Family Guy, but the originality mainly comes from its deconstruction of typical family fare. The humour is pretty familiar, and occasionally lowbrow, but it's fresh, and there are plenty of good moments (particularly the party scene with Sam Jones). While plenty of the jokes work, a lot of the other jokes are hit-or-miss. The characters themselves offer plenty of personality, but they tend to be more unlikable, until the film's climax, where everything is somehow good again in the conventional presto chango fashion. Honestly, I thought it was a somewhat good film, but in my opinion, it's plagued by a number of Hollywood clichés, including the heavily overdone "bromance versus romance" plot, which happens to be the film's central premise. The clichés wouldn't be such a problem if it weren't so painfully apparent that Seth McFarlane isn't a very good writer. Apparently McFarlane has a good enough vocal range to voice Ted, but isn't quite up to the task of writing a film that can do better than decent. To simplify my point, it's dumb, and yet surprisingly funny comedy film. If only it weren't weighed down by lazy writing.

Robocop 2
Robocop 2(1990)
½

As a standalone sci-fi action film, it's really not as bad, but it fails to live up to its classic predecessor in every possible way. By the time RoboCop first appears, it's as though the writers completely reset RoboCop's personality, as though none of the events of the first RoboCop film even happened. The characters are nothing special, and neither is the film's under-aged villain, who sounds like a cheesy attempt to either shock audiences or trigger a sentimental reaction, both of which are equally implausible because the film doesn't have the right atmosphere. The story itself is quite thin and eerily devoid of the social commentary that made the original RoboCop a classic in the first place. While the story and characters are shallow, this film does have a few redeeming qualities. The film does make up for some of its flaws with some decent action scenes, but in this film they seem to only gloss over the shallow plot. Perhaps the best moment in the film is when they reprogram RoboCop and turn him into a jabbering, slogan-shouting buffoon. As funny as it is, it's also a strangely effective metaphor for what would become of all future RoboCop films (and that includes last year's terrible RoboCop remake). My point is that, by the time this film was made, RoboCop had become nothing more than a brand name, and future RoboCop films would continue to disgrace the classic film that came before it.

Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump(1994)

This is the kind of trash is that guaranteed to get mainstream popularity because it thrives on sheer sentimentality. My big problem with the bloated story of Forrest Gump is that it takes you through the most turbulent chapters of American history (up until 1982) through the eyes of a complete moron who coasts his way through life, bumbling around like an imbecile, all while making appearances on national television and earning awards. I find it completely pretentious that Forrest Gump is somehow influencing the course of history, because not only is it unrealistic, but also because it sends the message that you can be rewarded for not even trying to do anything of worth. I understand that there's some kind of message to this film, and to me, that message is that it's okay to be naïve and ignorant, which I feel is a dangerous message to send. As for Forrest's character, he's a decent guy who, I'll admit, has his good moments, but he's not the best character to look up to at all, which is bad if the producers intended him to be a role model. To me, this is the kind of self-indulgent film that tries to shove itself down your throat with every schmaltzy tactic at the producers' disposal. It's the kind of sentimental fantasy that requires a very severe suspension of disbelief to accept, and that's really the most jarring aspect of it, apart from the whole "stupid is as stupid does" nonsense.

The Day of the Jackal
½

I've heard that this is supposed to be a great movie, and for its time, it's pretty good. While it is an entertaining thriller throughout, there are plenty of problems with the film. I say that, but the biggest issue is the films length. While two hours and twenty-five minutes is certainly not too bad on its own, it certainly feels like length padding. What doesn't help is the fact that the ending is left to be rather inconclusive. That aside, the performances were good enough that they lift the movie from the level of total tedium. The production values are also very good for the time, even though the majority of the film's colour palette seems to be composed principally of muted colours. Fortunately for me, the film wasn't just two-and-a-half hours of silence, though to be honest, the film could have used a little more action. Other than the aforementioned flaws, it's a good thriller movie that has aged quite well. If you have a lot of patience for suspense thrillers, then I'd recommend seeing this one, and in the thriller department, it's certainly better than a lot of the James Bond films.

Robin Hood
Robin Hood(1991)
½

This version of Robin Hood was made in the same year as Kevin Costner's bloated epic, so it inevitably suffered in the market, and was doomed to be another TV movie, which I think is a shame because, in many ways, this Robin Hood is far superior to the terrible Kevin Costner version. I mainly say this because it lacks the air of pretension that plagues all big Hollywood adaptations, and also because it's far less of a pain to watch. The performances in this movie have a kind of class and dignity that's absent in its big-budget counterpart, and I feel that the cast was very well chosen. I find that Patrick Bergin's performance as Robin Hood is quite balanced. Compared to many versions of Robin Hood, Bergin's performance is more down to earth, but without being too gritty and lifeless. The visuals provide a very convincing medieval backdrop, which is ideal for a realistic take on the Robin Hood story. The best part about the film, however, is that it felt real and was a convincing performance. I don't think it's the best adaptation of the tale, but it's appealing enough that I'd still watch it any day.

Conan the Barbarian
½

By now, I've seen a lot of heroic fantasy films, and I have to say that this is perhaps one of the most defining examples of the genre. For me, this is the kind of film that was perfect for Arnold Schwarzenegger, almost as though it was made with him in mind for the lead role. Of course, it would be highly superficial of me to say it's just him that makes this film great. The story was paced very well, and I got the sense of adventure that any good heroic fantasy film should provide. The performances are of exceptional merit, which is quite a surprise in a film where the acting isn't the most important element. The visuals have aged very well, with set pieces, costumes, and environments that instantly appeal to the eye. But of course, the most appealing part of the film is the violent action that, in my opinion, characterizes heroic fantasy. The 1980's may have been replete with cash-grabbing imitators, but this film is one of the few heroic fantasy films from that era that actually stands out among the crowd. After all, there aren't many other films that can claim to have the same appeal and magnetism as Conan the Barbarian.

The Green Hornet

There might have been a time in my life where I would have liked this movie, but back then I was much dumber. Though not entirely irredeemable, this trashy vigilante flick is marred by every cliché in the book. The acting isn't too bad, but the characters don't really make much of an effort, and I find Seth Rogen's character to be almost totally unlikable because he's a stereotypical egomaniac. If this is Seth Rogen trying to be funny, then it's obviously not working. The plot is highly formulaic, and although the pacing is quite decent, it's not enough to make up for what essentially Batman without any of the seriousness, and an overdose of gadgets normally reserved for Bond movies. I'll admit that the action scenes are competently choreographed and appropriately stylish, but everything else simply felt lame. There's a lesson that can be learnt from this film - some 20th century heroes are made for the silver screen, and others just aren't. The Green Hornet is simply too reliant on clichés to live up to the standards set by other comic book films. It's one of those unfortunately common "action-comedy" films that's a bad attempt at both genres.

Apocalypse Now
½

Subtle, moody, atmospheric, and quite possibly mad, this film is a proven gem of the silver screen that makes use of every ounce of its runtime. The film itself was one of a parade of Vietnam War epics from the 70's and 80's, though this film's portrayal of the war is decidedly more cunning, with the kind of slow descent into madness one could only find in the search for a presumably insane Marlon Brando. Even though one can expect really good acting from a film like this, I find that the acting is a lot better than I expected, which each performance a testament to the acting talents of everyone involved. Perhaps the film's greatest quality is its atmosphere, which is set up by the music, the visuals, and the narration working together to make a gloomy recreation of what must have been the sensations felt in the war. Although I personally preferred Full Metal Jacket, I think this film still deserves its place in film history as a deep, compelling, and unpretentious tale of madness in the heart of the jungle, whatever you thought of its message.

Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe(1982)
½

I've never read the original novel upon which the film is based, but I have some idea of what it was about. From what I've heard, it was a novel that took you back to days of castles, knights and kings, and that's exactly what this made-for-TV epic does. Ivanhoe also proves that not all made-for-TV films are dubious in quality. In fact, despite its fairly bloated runtime, the film proves to be an engaging medieval tale, even if it has a habit of glossing over some of the grimmer realities of medieval life. The biggest strength of this film is its engaging performances, delivered by a cast of talented actors. The film also provides a convincing atmosphere, which is bolstered by the set pieces, the music, and the fairly well-aged visuals. In my opinion, it's a very engaging film that lures you in very good performances, a very good medieval atmosphere, and a rather compelling story. At times, it felt like it really was a medieval fantasy coming alive, and that's always the mark of a good movie.

Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey

Popular culture is replete with examples of '80's culture that make you pine for those bygone days of the macho rock image. Meanwhile, this soulless husk of a movie will remind you why we abandoned those days in the first place. Keeping in mind that this was made in 1991, the noisy, excessive pop culture of the 1980's had already overstayed its welcome, and that doesn't bode well for the film's overall style. If I were alive some twenty-four years ago, I'd describe this film as a corpse, but it's not just because of the embarrassingly dated manner in which it presents itself. The story is a complete waste of human imagination, and even if there was a glimmer of potential, it ends up being quashed by a haphazardly written script, and some incredibly cheesy acting. The whole film felt like a product of committee thinking, and that's mainly because all Bill and Ted seem to do is spout a bunch of meaningless slogans. In the first film, it was alright, but in this film, they overstay their welcome very quickly. By the way, the dialogue lacks all subtlety, to the point that Bill and Ted's robotic doppelgängers are somehow dumber than the real Bill and Ted. Not content with having made such a disaster of outdated culture, the writers apparently wrote in the stupidest ending imaginable, so bad that I'm not even dignifying it with an explanation. All in all, the whole sordid affair could aptly be summed up as "Bill and Ted Rot Your Brains", because this is literally one of the dumbest movies I've ever had the misfortune of seeing. If the producers are considering a Bill and Ted sequel, I wouldn't. Given what this film represented, I think it'd be better to leave Bill and Ted to rest.

Daylight
Daylight(1996)
½

Of course, it's inevitable that big actors frequently take a dive in bad movies, and in Sylvester Stallone's case, Daylight was one of those movies that made Sly Stallone look outdated, and considering that this was made in the mid-1990's, this is a very bad sign indeed. The film itself looks quite dirty, and by that I mean it looked like one of those filthy public restrooms, only most of it is brown. The actors don't even try to give a very convincing performance, and while the acting isn't as bad as in other bad movies (which I dare not mention), it's still really terrible to the point that it's blatantly obvious that the actors weren't paid well enough. Even Sly Stallone suffers here, mainly because he fails to hide the fact that this is the kind of movie he's done several times before. While the film's more explosive scenes where decent at best, the entire film felt poorly made and incompetently handled. The one good thing about this movie is that at least it wasn't much of a disappointment, because I had fairly low expectations of this film to begin with. If you have high expectations, however, be prepared to be thoroughly disappointed.

The Hangover
The Hangover(2009)

To me, this film represents everything that's wrong with comedy films of the last ten years. The story may have been decent, but it fails at everything that is essential for a comedy film. Either that, or modern comedy films employ a style of humour that's quite jarring. I find that this is one of those films that make the dangerous assumption that comedy is nothing more than swear words and shock gags. Part of the problem is that the characters spend way too long shouting until the cows come home, and the jokes are so hit-or-miss that your commentary on this film could be funnier than the actual film itself. There are a few potentially good moments, such as the Mike Tyson cameo, but the film has barely anything else to offer, so how it got popular enough to spawn two sequels is very baffling indeed. It's shallow, crass, and ultimately a victim of several writing clichés and character stereotypes. In other words, it's nothing new, and unless you're not too demanding, it barely qualifies as entertainment.

Fantastic Voyage

The inspiration for various cheesy "fantastic voyage" plots commonly found in TV shows, this film didn't intend to be overtly camp. In fact, with its Cold War overtones, the film itself was pretty serious, or so it was trying to be, but with a premise that asks you to suspend your disbelief as heavily as it does, I can't exactly take it as seriously as the film-makers may have intended some five decades ago. The main problem is that the film feels quite outdated, at least by my standards, and I say this mainly because the characters and dialogue felt overly familiar. It wasn't really fresh, but that's not to say it was a bad film. At the very least the film's concept was original, and despite everything else having aged pretty badly, the visual effects seem to have held up quite well. Nowadays, it's essentially a B-movie in shiny dressing, but for the time, it was quite original, and it does have its moments. If only a decade of TV didn't ruin it for me.

Natural Born Killers

For many moviegoers, this might not be comfortable viewing. But, for the curious, this is a film that offers a fresh and original experience. The film is essentially the Bonnie and Clyde of the 1990's, and with a firm focus on how the mass media likes to glorify serial killers in their quest for ratings. There's also an abundance of the abstract and the psychedelic, which is quite appropriate considering that the film itself revolves around the perspective of frenzied psychopaths. There's even one scene that serves as a distorted parody of I Love Lucy, and that scene had quite a delightfully twisted sense of humour. Although some parts of the film feel rather disjointed and a little silly, the film itself goes on a course that leads to a very violent, yet well-executed conclusion. The performances are what really elevate the film, perhaps because the characters really develop as film progresses, and by the end of the film, the characterization reaches its peak. For me, the best part of the film was how effectively it was able to deliver its satire without being too obvious. When the whole world starts being fixated on the serial killers, one can grasp the sheer influence the mass media has in shaping perceptions. Obviously it seems like I'm reading into the film too deeply, but that's how engaging the film can be. It's a good mix of explicit violence and implicit social commentary, and if this is what the film-makers intended, I'd say they did a pretty good job.

This Is Spinal Tap
½

Part of what makes this a great film is that they managed to present it like a rock documentary, while not actually taking it as seriously as a documentary would. In other words, it's a playful mockumentary, and perhaps the best in that category. The film itself paints a pretty accurate caricature of what was the heavy metal image back in the early 1980's, and even if you don't get the satire, you might like the brilliant performances from the film's main cast. The film may only be 82 minutes long, but the pacing is actually quite finely balanced, and the writing is so good that the film's short length is used quite efficiently. Because rock is the core of what this film is about, the film-makers must have felt that it wouldn't be complete without spectacular set-pieces, and a heavy rock soundtrack (even if Spinal Tap's music is more similar to Deep Purple than any other band), and the soundtrack was the element of the film that I enjoyed the most. Of course, the humour was essentially the icing on the cake, with very memorable quotes. This is a film that perfectly encapsulates the rock and roll spirit, which is all the more ironic because the writers intended to play it for laughs.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

Thankfully Bond hadn't gone completely stale by the time this film was made, and to this film's credit, casting George Lazenby was quite a gamble. However, I can't help but think that they were trying to be too safe, thus neutering any hope of any risk paying off, which unfortunately happens with numerous later Bond films. A big problem for me is the film's overly-bloated length. Even the Sean Connery films were shorter, and had more balanced pacing. This film, on the other hand, just felt really slow, and for a film that tries desperately to imitate the success of its predecessors, that's quite a problem. At the very least this film retains the veneer of its predecessors, which helps because at least it looks and sounds like it might be worth a place alongside its predecessors, but that's all this film really has in the end. I could make the argument that this is a pretty shallow film, but it's a shallow film that knows how to present itself. By Bond standards, it's alright, but I think that it could have been so much more.

Ladyhawke
Ladyhawke(1985)
½

Any fan of fantasy film will most likely want to take a look at this film, and even though it's not as dazzling or enthralling as a lot of other fantasy films from the 1980's, I find that this one has its own unique charm. I certainly enjoyed the film's central premise, and I felt that the pacing was fairly balanced. However, the setting itself doesn't look too special. It's essentially a medieval setting with '80's synth music, and that itself could easily have been the most jarring part of the film, but it actually worked. If this film had a more conventional orchestral soundtrack, it would have been much less entertaining. The characters, meanwhile, give some convincing performances, and it helps that the actors are able to get into the right mood. The only real problem I could possibly have with the film is that it isn't as ambitious as it could have been. On the other hand, this is the kind of film that benefits from not having too many ideas above its station, almost as though there's a fine balance. Even though it's not as good as it could be, all the elements that are there seem to be in harmony with each other, and in general, it's a pretty good work of fantasy, which is all that ultimately matters.

Boyz n the Hood
½

As realistic and hard-hitting today as it was when it was released, this is a savagely honest film that truly immerses the viewer into its ostensibly urban perspective. If you aren't persuaded by its coming-of-age angle, then you might be persuaded by the magnificent performances from the film's characters. I'll admit that it is sometimes hard for me to immerse myself into the film's particular setting, but I find that this film is very realistic. I trait I tend to notice about this film is that it's very careful about glamorizing gang violence, and this approach allows for an unadulterated portrait of the film's characters, which are all well-played, and coupled with a solid script, this makes for a highly meritorious work of drama. The film also carries a certain atmosphere, bolstered by its well-polished production values, which give it a kind of timeless quality, which is especially important considering that the issues dealt with in the film are still around today. This is certainly a very thought-provoking film, and a highly immersive one, and for that reason, it is still quite relevant today. Relevant or no, it was a great film, and one of the best the 1990's has to offer.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

I used to think that this movie was really good, but naturally, as I got older, my tastes changed significantly. To put it bluntly, I don't like this film as much as I used to, but it does have its moments. As a sharp deconstruction of the '60's mentality, it works quite effectively, even if it inevitably runs into a number of campy stereotypes. As a parody of the old-style of Bond films, it works almost as well, but I find that it gives way too much away, almost as though you have to have seen the Bond films in order to really appreciate the film. To me, this is a film that does all it can to present Bond as a relic of the '60's, but I find this to be futile, since it's already obvious to me that Bond was an outdated relic of the Cold War (as brilliantly summed up by M in GoldenEye). If it succeeds at anything, it's that it's actually quite funny. It may not be as clever as other comedy films, or even other parody films, but mainly because of Mike Myers' confident performance, it works.

Coming to America
½

Ever since I first saw it, this is a film that continues to excite me for some reason. Perhaps it's because of the sheer magnetism of the film's lead character, but that's not the only factor. For me, this film hit a lot of the right buttons. I'll fully admit that it's not as smart as Trading Places, but for what it is, its sheer charm and glowing atmosphere create an overwhelmingly positive sensation, and that to me, is more than enough. Most of the characters are very likable due to the highly charismatic performances, which ironically seems to add to the humour. The film manages to make both its illustrious fictional kingdom and the New York setting look very attractive, and I mainly say this because they seem to have accurately reflected on both environments, and that helps the film's atmosphere. The best part of the film is that, thanks to Eddie Murphy and the rest of the cast, it is replete with great moments, and I simply love the film's style of humour. If Eddie Murphy weren't in this movie, it wouldn't be as great. Otherwise, this film was simply entertainment, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Young Guns
Young Guns(1988)

While this isn't a particularly impressive cowboy flick, it certainly has its merits as a fast-paced popcorn flick. Unfortunately, what could have been a spectacular film is hampered by a noticeably dated direction. The film appears to have been trying to fit some of the "brat pack" of the 1980's into a conventional western setting, and the main reason that it doesn't work is because the main characters simply aren't very good actors. The performances, while not terrible, are pretty stale. It's almost as though they're trying to be the next-generation equivalent of the old vanguards of cowboy icons, and are failing. If you ignore the forgettable characters and average story, you'll probably like the fast-paced gunfights, which, in a way, do make the film look more like an old-fashioned matinee. However, that's all this film appears to be good at. You won't find anything original, but you will find a decent showdown or two, and if that's what you're looking for, then this is the film for you.

Trading Places
½

This is a film that attempts to explore the age-old discussion "nature vs. nurture", and it does this brilliantly. In the film, two wealthy commodities brokers use two people on opposite ends of society as guinea pigs in an experiment to prove a point. One of them is elevated to affluence beyond his wildest dreams, while the other is framed for crimes he didn't commit, and is cursed to a life in the ghetto. Ultimately, the experiment is exposed, and the people behind it are foiled in the stock market. This, obviously, is a very glib summary of the film's story, but that's all I can describe without spoiling it. In my opinion, however, the story was very well constructed, taking a familiar debate to a new level, with hilarious and often thought-provoking results. While Dan Aykroyd's character can often come across as arrogant and naïve, I find that his performance works very well. Every character in the film performs very well, but as usual, Eddie Murphy's character steals the show, and he does this with such brilliance that it's as though he's displaced the film's actual protagonist. During the first half of the film, the comedy can seem hit-or-miss, but eventually, the film's better moments unfold, and so does the humour, culminating in an ending that was so satisfying I couldn't possibly ask for a better ending. In my opinion, this film had plenty of bright ideas, and executed them very well, and the end result was a smart, original, funny, and very entertaining film that has aged very well.

Splash
Splash(1984)
½

If you take it purely by face value, then it'll seem like a dumb '80's movie, but when you scratch the surface (or should I say look beneath the water), you might find something that surprises you. In my case, I had fairly low expectations for this movie, but then it quickly proved to be quite entertaining, despite its slightly ridiculous premise. The story starts off on a rather sentimentalist tone, but quickly drifts in a more light-hearted, yet likable direction. The performances, for me, are the best part of the film, as they seem to be the main source of the film's humour. The characters don't seem to generate much in the joke department immediately, but as the film progresses, it also gets much funnier. By the end, when the main characters have to sneak the mermaid out of the research lab, things get their craziest they're forced to embellish the truth a little, and the performances help the cause immensely. It might not seem like the kind of movie that would hold up today, but it really does, and it has enough charm that I can overlook some of its flaws. It is ridiculous fantasy, but that's its core selling point, and it works.

Zulu
Zulu(1964)

I don't really understand how critics loved this movie. It's not horribly bad, but I find that the big problem is the film's pacing. The film constantly alludes to a battle that happens later in the film, but spends half of it hanging around in the soldiers' quarters. It seems very pretentious that the film delays the fighting, but then again, a lot of historical films did this, and probably still do this today. To top it all off, the film is riddled with historical inaccuracies, to the point that I can't actually go into detail. Meanwhile, the performances are actually quite good, though the film's horrid pacing does not help the cause. The only thing that does help, however, are the film's picturesque visuals, which bring the film's setting to life when the acting fails. This is the kind of film that tries to be a grand historical recreation, but it suffers because of this pretention of grandeur. After all, if I can't enjoy the grandeur, then what's so grand about it?

Skyfall
Skyfall(2012)
½

One problem I have with the Bond franchise that I keep encountering with the later Bond films is that they always try to milk everything that used to be iconic about the franchise for all it's worth, and as a result, each Bond film deteriorates in a manner that sees the whole franchise getting more and more lifeless. In all fairness, the film-makers actually tried to make this one good. The plot is mildly better, and the production values are clean, crisp, and quite well-done. Most of the time, however, the film opts for gritty colours, which might be appropriate considering the film's slovenly attempt at a gritty James Bond. The performances are all right, and the main villain is something of a stand-out character, but not in a very huge way. Daniel Craig's incarnation of the James Bond character also doesn't show any sign of improvement, but then again, neither does anything else except for the production values. To be honest, this isn't a terrible movie. It's just boring, and the fact that it tries to not be mediocre makes it even worse. At the very least it was better than listening to the Skyfall song.

Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth is a film that is quite abundant in magic, but in a dark and suitably mature context. You could compare it to Alice in Wonderland in terms of surreality, but in my opinion, this film is what Alice in Wonderland would be like if it were rooted in a deathly serious tone. The plot alternates between the alluring fantasy of the labyrinth, and the grim reality of Francoist Spain. Until the very end of the film, both worlds seem equally dark, and this film does very well to try and juggle the two worlds together. Aside from the beautifully dark visuals, the film's biggest strength, perhaps, is its ability to establish a sense of mood, and this makes it easy for the viewer to believe that the film is going a certain way. For example, the final scenes of the film had me believing that the film was a bitter ending (which I actually would have welcomed), so the relatively positive ending came as quite a surprise. The performances helped the film's overall mood significantly, and I find that it was very easy for me to engage with the characters, although I find that many of the real world characters were unlikable, which I think may have been intended by the writers to establish the real world as a truly horrible place. It presents a vision of fantasy wrapped in horror and drama, yet with a light at the end of the tunnel. It's a very intriguing and artistic adventure filled with real emotion, and that by itself more than worth watching.

Fletch
Fletch(1985)
½

Chevy Chase may not have been one of the best names in the 1980's. In fact, when I think about him, I usually think about stereotypically unfunny '80's comedy. This film, however, is actually worth watching. The main premise, which revolves around a journalist who uses an array of disguises in his pursuit of incriminating information, is quite solid and surprisingly realistic. It's as though the writers have a real grasp of what being a journalist is about, and what helps is that the story has a balanced pace, so it doesn't seem tedious in any way. I find Chase's performance as the title character to be quite eccentric, in a way that it's certainly better than any other film he's in (as far as I know). The main attraction of this film is its overall style. There are two main tracks that are used very frequently, and they are very good. The film's soundtrack is the kind of quintessentially '80's synth music that obsessive fans of the decade crave, and it's extremely catchy. The humour is sometimes a little hit-or-miss, but it's subtle enough that it works it the right time, so long as the right performances are there. It's not one of the best movies of the '80's, but I find it to be rather underrated. If you find it, I'd recommend seeing it at least once.

The Robe
The Robe(1953)
½

This is one of those films that has an interesting premise, but unfortunately squanders its potential. In this regard, the main problem is that The Robe suffers an unfortunate cliché of historical epics - it takes too long to get to focus on the main point of the film. The premise revolves around a Roman military tribune who wins Jesus' robe and is haunted by nightmares of his crucifixion. Unfortunately, it takes approximately 30 minutes to get that far. The first 40 minutes are fixated on the scope and might of Rome, and you can only magnify Rome for so long before it becomes pretentious. The performances are actually quite decent, and in a way, they help give the film some semblance of life, but sometimes, the high tone of the performances can overstay its welcome, perhaps because the actors aren't charismatic enough to generate truly moving performances. It's such a shame that a film with a genuinely interesting premise couldn't live up to its potential, and because of that, we get a by-the-numbers Roman epic with all the trimmings, but without the charm.

The War of the Worlds
½

It does appear rather dated at times, but I should probably expect that from a film that's around 61 years old, and for something like that, it still manages to entertain. The story is, by now, basic sci-fi fare, but it fuels itself with a sense of context based on the two world wars, which were still in many people's memories by the time the film was made, and a metaphorical portrayal of contemporary Cold War paranoia. The performances are good, but I don't find them to be completely charismatic. However, there is still a professional quality behind it, and that alone is enough to guarantee a sense of immersion. The best part of the film is the special effects, which, though they seem primitive by today's standards, have a quality that gives the movie, and its laser fight scenes, an irrevocable kind of charm that makes me ignore how dated the film can sometimes seem.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Nearly 40 years after its initial release, this surreal spoof of the King Arthur legend is a film that has aged superbly. This was the film that introduced me to Monty Python in the first place, and with its instant appeal - stoked by cleverly written humour, brilliant set-pieces, charismatic acting, and a whole host of memorable moments - it became my favourite comedy film of all time, and without hesitation, I can say this is simply the greatest film ever made. I could go on and on about my favourite moments from the film, but that would take forever. What I will comment on is how the Monty Python group has made incredibly effective use of their skills at playing numerous roles. They fit so well into the plethora of different roles that it's as though each role was a different pair of clothes. The film brandishes an excellently impersonated medieval style, blended with the group's signature style of surreal humour and farcical twists. It ultimately concludes in the total opposite of how every other re-telling of the King Arthur legend is told, with the knights being thwarted in the silliest possible way. The ending is only slightly jarring, but in such a way that it actually works well with the rest of the film. A well-aged classic, this is the kind of film that, sadly, can never be made again. After all, you can only make the greatest film of all-time once.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

If you're a fan of the novel upon which this film is based, then you might have an instant grasp of the film's premise. I meanwhile, choose to take it as a fantasy film, and in that respect, though it's not a great film, it's a worthy fantasy film. Narnia has some of the things I look for in a work of fantasy fiction: a majestic fantasy world unlike our own, an indigenous mythology, magic, and rich fantasy storytelling. However, the storytelling is perhaps where this film suffers the most. The first part of the film is a bit of a drag, and the rest of the film seems to rely on a suspension of disbelief on several occasions. On top of that, there are quite a few Christian undertones, and there a few vaguely sermonizing moments from the film's cast. However, the competent performances are good enough that I can look past all that. Besides, the film itself has fantastic visuals that look much better than most of today's films put together, and that seems to be a trait that I find in plenty of big-budget fantasy films. It's a good work of fantasy, but it seems rather restrained, due mainly because it was intended for a young audience, which I'm sure would enjoy it far more, though that's not to say that older audiences can't find enjoyment in it, even if it requires willing suspension of disbelief.

Donnie Darko
Donnie Darko(2001)

This is not a film for everyone. In fact, it would be best to not look too deeply into this. If you don't focus on what logical sense the film movie could make, I can guarantee that you may just enjoy it. The story itself is rich tapestry of dark plot twists, culminating in an irony so big that even if I could explain it, my explanation wouldn't do any justice. The performances have genuine character, and whether you loved or hated a character, or if you just didn't care, I could just feel that the personality and emotion within the characters are more genuine than in most coming-of-age dramas. Technically, this is a coming-of-age film, but it's perhaps the most creative in a usually uncreative and overly sappy genre of film. The film's other specialty seem to be establishing mood, given the overall tone, but the film does have a subtle sense of humour that works quite well. For me, it might be quite mind-boggling, but the film has a brilliant concept, and it's delivered in such an effective way that it simply works.

Licence To Kill

Placing Bond on his own, this is a film that shows quite a lot of potential, and although it ultimately falls short in a number of areas, I still find it to be quite watchable. Personally, I think they should have kept the film's original title, "Licence Revoked", which would have made a more direct impression. The film definitely takes a more serious direction. Gone is the camp of the 70's Bond films, but to be honest, this darker direction is played with in too much of a subtle fashion. All it really means here is a little more swearing and more violent fight scenes, but it's not that much, so what you get is essentially a rehash of The Living Daylights that pretends to be much darker than it really is. That being said, however, I find the more serious performances to be helpful to the film rather than a hindrance to the franchise as a whole. In my opinion, the Bond franchise wasn't serious enough, and before this film was released, the Bond franchise had been reduced to a campy relic of the 60's. In this film, the actors try as best as they can to keep the film as far away from that as possible, and in all fairness, it actually works. However, this film suffers a fatal flaw that it shares with The Living Daylights - it presents itself in much the same way as its predecessors, right down to the same Maurice Binder title design. For what it's worth, the production values are very good, and the fight scenes are choreographed competently, all topped off with liberal doses of flashy explosions. If you want a simpler explanation, this is a Bond film that tried to break the mould, but ultimately played it fairly safe. I would honestly pay to see a Bond film that was more gratuitous than any other Bond film, and I don't expect next year's upcoming Bond film to deliver.

Jet Li's Fearless (Huo Yuan Jia) (Legend of a Fighter)

This movie almost reminds me of Jet Li's martial arts classic "Hero", but it's clearly not as appealing or moving. Then again, this is one of those cases where I find it rather hard to put myself in the shoes the main character. The plot is, of course, based on historical events, but given that it's from a nationalistic perspective, the story tends to present foreigners in a somewhat caricatured fashion (I might also like to point out that there's a scene where there are English subtitles even though the characters in the scene speak in English). All jarring aspects of the story aside, the performances are actually quite good, even if they're not as great as they could have been. The film's production values, meanwhile, are quite good, and the highlight of the movie will undoubtedly be its well-choreographed fight scenes, which any fan of Jet Li is sure to appreciate. To summarize, the storytelling may be a little sketchy, but the fight choreography will more than make up for it, even if the fight scenes aren't always fresh.

Forbidden Planet
½

This film has been credited with inspiring much of what we recognize as sci-fi today, and I can see where many of those elements fit. Though, in my eyes, it seems a little dated, there are many aspects of this film that have aged well. Even if the storytelling seems a little dated, that doesn't seem to happen with the acting and performances, which in no way seemed even remotely kitsch. For me, the obvious highlight of the film is the way it presents itself. I know that this is one of many films that popularized the 50's sci-fi aesthetic that we've become all too familiar with, but that's not what I liked in particular. What I really liked was the set-pieces, which in my eyes were pure, well-aged eye candy. It's also worth noting that the film's soundtrack was composed entirely with entirely electronic sounds, as opposed to a maelstrom of other films that relied on orchestral sounds, even to this day. While it seems like an old-fashioned space flick, it's quite entertaining in its own right, and it was remarkably forward-looking, in the sense that it predicted many of sci-fi's clichés, and it's one of the few films to use them without it going stale.

Alien Resurrection

Before this film was released, Sigourney Weaver once said that her character, Ellen Ripley, was going to become a burden to the story. She was, of course, talking about Alien3, but that's exactly how I feel about this movie, which, while not technically as bad as its atrocious predecessor, had a host of problems that dragged everything down. My biggest complaint is that the story makes absolutely no sense. If you had the patience to sit through Alien3, you'll probably know that Ripley dies at the end, so why on God's green Earth would the writers resurrect her? Added to that, why make the reasons for her resurrection unclear? The characters are quite uninteresting, and even Winona Ryder's character (who's later revealed to be a robot) has much of her potential squandered by a slovenly-written script. The production values are much better than in the previous film, with much brighter colours than previously used, but it doesn't make up for anything since most of the film is brown. Simply put it, I didn't enjoy anything about this movie, not even the action scenes, and I usually like those. While it may have been something of an improvement over its predecessor, the end result was basically just a wasted effort that was ultimately made just for the purpose of making a cash-grabbing sequel, while also trying and failing to restore the good name of the Alien franchise.

The Living Daylights

The absence of Roger Moore was more than welcome in The Living Daylights, in which the producers seem to have been doing everything they could to make Bond seem much less stale. For instance, the story, though it's stretched across one of the longer Bond flicks, is more directly focused on action, rather than an attempt to completely rehash the same suave yarn that has been perpetuated for over two decades by the time this film was made. The acting is much more enjoyable than in the previous Bond film, and in some other subtler ways, it felt like a different Bond film. However, it was presented in much the same way as the previous Bond films were, making it painfully obvious that the producers still wanted to play it safe. For me, that's ultimately the biggest problem, because this film had the potential to overturn the traditional Bond formula, even if it was only a glimmer of potential, but apparently audiences weren't ready yet, so we have a harder-edged Bond that only has hints of ambition, but ultimately settles for a kind of middle ground that is nearly impossible to negotiate.

I, Robot
I, Robot(2004)

This film tries to be as thought-provoking as Steven Spielberg's A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, and in all fairness, there are moments where the film's premise can make you think, but that's only for a short while before the film lapses back into being yet another summer blockbuster. The story often doesn't make sense, and it seems like an attempt to cram intelligent sci-fi subject matter into a blockbuster action romp. For me, this is reflected in the acting, mainly because many of the performances feel quite familiar, but at the same time they're watchable, and the film does have its best moments. The production values are alright, but it's nothing really special. The robots don't look very appealing at all, but the special effects can actually get pretty good at times, even if in one of the last scenes of the film there's a lot of blue everywhere (then again, this isn't a film with a wide colour palette). The film is primarily action-oriented, and thus, you're most likely watching this film for action, and this film delivers it competently, but it's not very potent at truly satisfying action scenes. Overall, it's a film that I wouldn't mind watching again, but there are a lot of flaws, and to be frank, I find that it's one of those films that tend to squander a lot of their potential.

Hero
Hero(2004)

If I could describe this film using only one word, that word would be heavenly. Every aspect of this film was excellently crafted with the same grace and elegance that the film constantly exudes. The story, I feel, has a perfect balance of length and pacing, complete with beautiful storytelling and powerful acting. With the aid of subtitles, anyone can appreciate the pure boldness of the script, and I find many of the characters to radiate awesome levels of charisma. In my opinion, the film's greatest strengths are its breathtaking visuals and exceptionally graceful special effects, all of which elevate the experience in so many indescribable ways. Of course, this is a martial arts film, so one of the most important aspects of this film is whether or not the stylized violence works, and in this film, the stylized violence is as beautiful and seamless as the rest of the film. I may sound rather biased in this review, but there are so few films that could match it. Besides, I think anyone could agree that this truly is a masterpiece of Chinese cinema.

Blue Thunder
Blue Thunder(1983)

It's not a particularly bad film, but it's not a particularly good film. With that in mind, it's important to remember the line between the kind of decent movie that one can actually stand to sit through, and the kind of movie that's decent, but tedious. This, I feel, is the former kind, because even though it's not particularly special, there's a certain quality to it that makes it passable. Perhaps I'm focusing too much on the film's aesthetic qualities, which, to be fair, aren't too bad for a film that seems outdated. On the other hand, the story is fairly simplistic, and the characters and acting aren't much to speak of. The production values aren't exactly stellar either, with many scenes that look rather cheaply made. However, back in the 1980's, this could always be solved with more than a few explosions, which in this film seem to look much better than anything else in the whole film. If you're interested in 80's action films, then obviously this is one of the many films you should look for. Otherwise, there really isn't much I can say.

The Specialist
½

At some point, every A-list actor winds up in a movie that isn't really worth the hype, and this movie is one of those examples where three big stars (in this case, Sylvester Stallone, Sharon Stone and James Woods) try their best in a movie that can only ever be mediocre. The story isn't very well constructed and it wasn't written very well, but in all fairness, that might be because every aspect of the plot seems all too familiar. Normally in a situation like this, the performances are what should save the day, but for the most part, it doesn't look much better. The acting is quite decent at times, but for most of the film, I wouldn't recommend expecting very stand-out performances (although James Woods makes for quite a competent villain in this film). The production values are decent, but it doesn't look very special at all. Not even the most explosive action scenes in the film make up for the overall mediocrity of this film, and that's perhaps the big problem with this film. While it could have been far worse, it doesn't actually do better. It's a by-the-numbers action movie with surprisingly less emphasis on action, and more of an emphasis on its double-dealing lead female.

Alien3
Alien3(1992)
½

This is a film that could have been good, but wasted every ounce of potential that it had. I've heard that were numerous concepts for this film, but rather than pick the more exciting idea, they went with gritty, dull-as-dishwater plot set on a prison complex with only a single alien. The acting is quite banal and lacking in enthusiasm, and it's also extremely obvious to me that the writing is so bad that most of the characters spend their time swearing and shouting in a very stereotypical way. The whole film was simply boring, with horrible characters, and an even worse plot. The film also has an extremely unappealing colour palette. If it's not mostly brown (which it will be for most of the film), then it'll be mostly grey, which doesn't do anything for a film that's already boring. On top of that, there's nothing that really stimulates the senses that a horror movie is supposed to. Therefore, Alien 3 is a failure both as a sequel and as a sci-fi horror film. The film-makers could have done much better, but they wasted whatever potential the film had.

Die Another Day

The Bond franchise frequently takes dives into the realm of banality, and in this regard, Die Another Day is perhaps one of the worst in this category. The story is a massive joke that just seems to make even less sense as it goes along, and the big problem is that the story revolves around gadgets, and this is where the film started getting really carried away. Everything about the film looks and sounds shallow, with an overabundance of CGI effects and gadgets that are absurd even by Bond standards (I don't think I need to mention that damned invisible car), and scenes that often look slovenly edited. When film-makers put too much of an emphasis on special effects, this invariably affects the writing and acting. The characters were borderline poor in this film, but it's not quite as tedious as A View to a Kill. The tedium of the film is what ruins what might otherwise have been a decent movie, but perhaps the real problem is that, after twenty films, Bond doesn't seem to have freshened up his act at all, which is extremely jarring when you consider that this was the first film in the franchise to be made and released in the 21st century, and for something like that, it's very disappointing.

American Psycho

If you want a good horror movie with less emphasis on gratuitous bloody gore, then I'm all sure this is the film for you. For me, the story is not so much about a psychotic killer as it is about the vacuous world of yuppie culture, and the worst possible extreme of how it could drive a man (even if the man in question happens to be sick in the head). The performances are really good, and it's quite apparent that Christian Bale can bring the main character to life in ways that the character to ceases to be fake in the mind of the viewer. The other characters are good in their own way as well, but the main character tends to steal so much of the show, especially because of the way he incorporates music, which in a way was so pretentious that it was actually kind of funny (because of this movie, I jokingly associate "Hip to be Square" with an axe to the back). With its production values, genuine horror thrills, and overall rounded performances, I'd say this is one of the more well-made films of the current century, even though it might not be as clever as other films of the genre.

Die Hard: With a Vengeance
½

This may be the weakest of the first three Die Hard movies, but that doesn't matter because it makes for good entertainment. The story might be more or less a rehash of the original Die Hard, just that the scale is increased to the point that the story is stretched across New York City rather than just a building in LA. What makes this movie work despite its somewhat rehashed plot is the acting abilities of the film's three main stars. There's plenty of humour in the film, and much of that comes from the pairing of Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, with his arsenal of impassioned and hilarious one-liners. The production values are pretty good, and the action scenes make up for whatever faults the film has, but if I have one meaningful criticism of the film, it's that it seems way too long for what it is. It may be a little too long, but it's worth it, and it's certainly better than many of the later action movies that came after it.

The Expendables 2

With an ensemble cast of big name action stars, it's quite easy to get swept away by idea behind this film. However, it's very easy for me to demand more from this kind of film, and in the case of The Expendables 2, it might just be too much to ask. The obvious selling point is the ensemble cast, which now features Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger in expanded roles. However, it's not like in the old days, and I think this is reflected in the instances where the film tries to pad length slightly. It's not completely bad, but the story isn't written very well, as evidenced by the script focusing on old ideas and catchphrases. The film doesn't have a very good variety of colours, with some scenes looking rather grey and listless, but it isn't so bad. After all, the production values are at least up to code, but sometimes, the age of some of the characters really shows. The action scenes, meanwhile, tend to live up to their promise of straightforward action, which is what I should expect from action movies that promise so much. While it's not as violent and satisfying as some of the action movies from the 1980's (which this film wants you to believe it is imitating), I think it's good enough to qualify as "enjoyable for fans of action films". Besides, the ending wraps up the story quite nicely, to the point that it shouldn't even need a sequel, let alone two.

A.I. Artificial Intelligence
½

The film was a difficult case - one the one hand, it engaged plenty of intellectual thought, but on the other hand, I found it to be overly sentimental at times, due to the film revolving around the perspective of a robot programmed with the thought process and naivety of a child. The story in this film has a number of lofty concepts that might be difficult for some to swallow, and I'm not too certain if they're all handled well enough to warrant such a lofty status in the script, but it was actually quite engaging, and in the end, a film is supposed to be engaging. The characters tend to vary in terms of whether you can like them or not. Obviously the main character tends to be annoying because he whines a lot, but then again, that's exactly what I can expect from something like him. In a way, the characters are actually quite realistic, for the most part, and that's something I can commend the writers for. The production values and special effects are actually pretty good, with ambitious and expansive set-pieces, a myriad of well-implemented special effects, and a consistently bleak look that contrasts and is contrasted by the optimism injected by Spielberg's direction. I'll fully admit that the ending doesn't make too much sense, but it fuelled my curiosity in a surprisingly effective way, and that's why this is a movie that's worth watching, at least as something of an intellectual curiosity.

A View to a Kill
½

By the mid-1980's, it had become all too obvious that Bond was nothing but an outdated relic of the 1960's. Everything about this movie had no soul, no energy and no life. Thankfully, this was Roger Moore's final outing as James Bond, but I can't think of any poorer way to send him off. What we basically have here is a movie so bad that not even Duran Duran could save it. The story was complete nonsense, and given that it's paced the same way as all the other Bond films, it's very tedious to watch. The characters aren't particularly jarring, but their performances lack passion, energy, and enthusiasm. Christopher Walken makes for a lousy Bond villain, which is especially bad considering that the villain of this movie is essentially a carbon copy of every other megalomaniacal super villain to grace the silver screen, and with no innovation whatsoever. The production values are good, but everything just feels bland, and that prevents me from fully enjoying the action scenes. If you ever needed it, A View to a Kill is proof that Roger Moore's Bond movies are almost exactly the same, and in that regard, it's definitely the worst, in the entire series no less. Bogged down by typical Bond writing, unenthusiastic performances from a clearly tired Bond, and a generally shallow atmosphere, this movie deserves to be buried in a time capsule of things from the 80's we'd like to forget, and that time capsule would never be unearthed.

The Andromeda Strain

Sci-fi movies of the 1970's were weird and wonderful, and each one of them had their own unique charm. Even though this movie wasn't the best of them, I feel there's a certain kind of appeal that I can find in this film. The film's greatest strength is ability to set up a quintessential sci-fi atmosphere - mysterious with a futuristic vibe. The production values are very good for the time, and the computer effects aren't bad. However, the movie tends to be bogged down by a story that is made hard to follow by the film's slow pace. There is a concept behind this movie, but I couldn't get into it because the film felt that it was moving way too slowly. The acting was also quite standard compared to other films, with no real emotional connection. While the film's atmosphere works quite well, the pacing and acting serve to work against what could have been a great movie. Instead, it's more like the equivalent of standard 70's sci-fi fare, but that doesn't mean it's a bad movie at all.

Runaway Train
½

This kind of movie is like a rare species - it's unlike any other film I've ever seen, and I admittedly don't really know how best to look at it. One thing I must say, however, is that the story flows almost literally like a runaway train. You don't know where it's going to go, but by the end, you're hanging on nearly every minute. The characters are quite well-acted, and for me, they show more real personality than most action film characters, but aren't as magnetic. What I find most interesting about them is the scenes where they seem to reflect on what they're doing, even in the most basic ways. For me, the biggest source of appeal is the film's lovely soundtrack, and the beautifully snowy Alaskan backdrop, which does well to make the overall environment look a lot less bleak. I'm quite surprised that this film isn't that popular, considering how well it was made. In all fairness, I don't know if this is the sort of film that most people would like, but if you take a good look at it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Street Fighter
½

Back when this film was released twenty years ago, you could be forgiven for thinking that it might be even somewhat worth watching, but if you watch it today, all it'll do is remind you of just how exploitative of a popular brand name Hollywood gets. At best, this slovenly constructed video game adaptation is just incredibly goofy. At worst, it's a self-indulgent failure of an action flick that appears to have cut corners everywhere. The story has very little to do with the game upon which it's supposed to be based, the characters don't even come close to resembling their in-game incarnations, the music and visuals create and overly camp atmosphere, and the main character is played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose performance in this film is so terrible you could see right through it. I'll admit that Raul Julia's hammy overacting can be a little enjoyable at times, but everyone else's poor performances suffocate the whole film, as if the tediously ridiculous and choppily paced story didn't do that already. If that wasn't enough, the fight scenes are also plagued by below-average special effects, as well as butchered choreography that tries and fails to recreate the most popular moves in Street Fighter II, and disappointingly enough, we don't even get a Hadouken for our troubles. If you needed proof that video games can never translate into good movies, then this film would be it. If you're looking for 102 minutes of entertainment, it's best to avoid Street Fighter.

Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny Mnemonic is an example of a film that could have been good, but failed because its ideas weren't exactly executed very well. One big problem is that the prologue gives the impression of a very dumb 90's movie (which itself is at least accurate, given the writing). Afterwards, the story is characterized by a sequence of events that don't seem to fit anywhere because the story is actually quite hard to follow. In this regard, I say this because the writers don't seem to know how best to handle their ideas, so what we get is a mess of a movie that seems to be going nowhere no matter what context there actually is. Keanu Reeves' performance in this film is actually not as bad as I've heard it is, but it could stand to be better. The characters don't seem to exhibit a lot of personality, almost as though the actors portraying them didn't have much enthusiasm. The visuals aren't too bad, but the special effects seem quite shoddy even for the time it was made, and this is blatantly obvious in the scenes set in the film's version of cyberspace. The only thing that was really interesting was the cyborg dolphin near the end of the film, which I'll admit had put me in stitches. Over than that, there's not really much to say about it. It was a failure in the 1990's, and nearly twenty years later, it seems to have aged terribly.

Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea

After a pitifully tedious line-up of film's based on the third-generation of Pokémon, the producers apparently decided to make this ninth film the longest in the Pokémon film series, and naturally, this one happens to be among the most tedious in the series. The film's story isn't particularly special, but it's more tedious than the other films because the film's length is stretched out mainly by pointless filler scenes, and a seemingly neverending supply of sentimentalist drollery. Of course, this isn't the kind of film that's meant to be viewed from an adult perspective, but I have to look at all films through the same lens. That being said, I've often criticised the Pokémon films for lacking any real character development, but in this film, the lack of character development is made even more uncomfortable by the film's frankly indulgent length. It's worth noting that this film uses a new voice cast, and while some characters benefit from this change of voice acting, other characters suffer because of it. The characters the film introduced are very hollow and clichéd, and it's so bad that not even seeing the main villain getting literally crushed is satisfactory at all. The animation isn't bad, but it's harder to enjoy it because of how tedious the film will start to feel after a long endurance round of bad acting, cliché dialogue, and sentimental crying. Overall, this film doesn't amount to anything more than a trite, self-indulgent affair that doesn't even try to be ambitious. To me, this and the later Pokémon films send the message that as long as you can milk a powerful brand name like Pokémon, you can expect money to pour in no matter how badly the film was actually made, and that's a terrible message to send.

Superman III
Superman III(1983)

The problem with most Superman films is that they refuse to show any kind of vulnerability in Superman. Coupled with that, it's very hard to come up with anything truly original for a Superman film, and believe it or not, that's not the worst part about this movie in particular. The story itself is a blatant joke, but the only reason it could seem like more is because the producers have added bits to the script that only serve to make the film more of a self-indulgent affair, as if Superman himself wasn't enough of a jaded relic. It should be worth noting that, perhaps after exhausting the potential of the last two Superman movies, this outing takes on a particularly camp attitude. While it's not as campy as the 60's Batman movie, it's still impossible to take this movie seriously, especially with the notoriously poor decision to cast Richard Pryor as a bumbling computer hacker. All shady colonialist undertones aside, Pyror's performance in the film is characterized by terribly outdated dialogue and utter debasement. The film's main villain is a terrible replacement for Lex Luthor, and if that wasn't enough, the vast majority of the plot makes absolutely no sense. The production values are very deceptive, as it can appear to have the look of a high-quality film, but in some scenes, the production values seem to take a dive at complete random, often resulting in scenes looking much worse than they really are. The special effects aren't even bad, but then again, they're in the same film that has at least one scene that I swear looks like stock footage. Overall, Superman III is a complete disaster in every possible way. Not even the later Superman movies could fix the mess that it made, and it's probably better that Superman IV isn't mentioned.

Legion
Legion(2010)
½

I'm under the impression that films revolving around angels usually aren't too good, but this movie just plain poorly made in every possible way. The story made absolutely no sense, and while there are a few moments where it may have gotten interesting, those moments where quite sporadic, getting lost in the film's shabby attempts at executing its supposedly lofty concepts. The acting is terrible, and there's an overdose of dialogue that pervades the script so much that it makes the film much harder to enjoy as virtually nothing happens. The film even looks very dull and fairly cheap. The film's visuals leave a bad impression right from the beginning, which is something I should immediately be concerned about if this is going to be a movie where people talk most of the time. There is action, but it's not much. It feels as though any action movie can give you bullets and expect you to be satisfied, and really, that sums up this movie. It presents its concepts in the most inanely banal way possible, and expects you to be satisfied with the end result, which is an utterly shambolic failure that makes Constantine look like a masterpiece.

Star Trek: Insurrection

The previous film was quite entertaining, but this film felt more like an extended episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which itself seems weird because this film was released four years after the show finished. Even though the story feels like an overextended TV episode, there are some good qualities about this movie, such as the performance of its starring cast, including Patrick Stewart, whose sublime acting saves this movie from the bowels of mediocrity. The film itself has very good production values, and the visuals and special effects are very eye-catching. However, there doesn't seem to be a lot of excitement coming from this film. Much of it is talking spread out through its fairly unimaginative story, and while there is some very good acting, it's the pacing that proves to be somewhat problematic.

Pokemon: Lucario and the Mystery of Mew
½

While I find this entry in the Pokémon franchise to be slightly better than the previous film, it's not much better, perhaps because it's completely obvious that nothing has really changed. The story is quite lacklustre to say the least, to the point that any semblance of human emotion seems very hollow. The prologue, I'll admit, was the best part of the film, but given the rest of the film, it isn't much. The voice acting is the worst part, because most of the cast sounds quite childish, and Team Rocket, once again, ruins everything for the whole film. To be completely fair, the animation and visuals are better than in the previous films, but from what I understand, that's something of a given. Besides, the 3D effects that often appear are quite unsavoury. As a whole, this movie would be great for a younger audience, but for me, it's not very good. It is better than its predecessor, but only by a small margin. In this case, however, it makes all the difference.

Face/Off
Face/Off(1997)

This is a movie that does nothing other than confuse me. Following the plot was more like a chore because of the film's sub-par writing, which often acts as though the two main characters are the same person. I understand the need to deal with a dual identity once you've had them literally swap faces. The acting isn't very good, but there some humorous moments that mostly come from John Travolta and Nichols Cage playing each other in the only role that Nicolas Cage doesn't completely fail at. For me, the biggest problem with the story is that there are plenty of scenes that didn't need to be there at all, and by that I mean that there's more exposition and emoting than is really needed in this film. Maybe that's why this movie is over two hours long, which for any other movie is fine, but for this one, it tends to try my patience, mainly because of the confused script and rampant overacting. If there's one thing this film does right, it's that at least it's a halfway decent action movie, but there aren't a lot of the qualities that would make it anything other than a typically mindless action film.

Dark Star
Dark Star(1974)
½

It may be rather daffy, and its low budget visuals certainly show, but it's kind of a unique charm that can only come from this sort of film. The story is decently paced, and at 83 minutes, it's short enough that it isn't really tedious in any way. The acting is also pretty good, but for me, it's the quirkier moments of the film that really stand out. For instance, the alien they keep in the ship looks like beach ball with webbed feelers, and it's responsible for some of the funniest moments in the film. The special effects aren't exactly refined, but they're actually not bad. In fact, I find that, by complete accident, they set the tone for a film that's pretty crazy on its own. The film's overall style seems to resemble a film that was made at the end of the 1960's. In fact, the visuals and soundtrack sometimes remind me of Star Trek, but only because of the relatively low-budget special effects. Even with its flaws, it's a pretty funny film, and if you haven't heard of it, I'd take a good look at it before dismissing it entirely, because this is an example of a low-budget movie that's actually enjoyable.

The Terminator

Even after thirty years, this film hasn't lost any of the traits that make it a classic film. The Terminator was and still is a classic film, and this is because all the elements are there. The story is told very well, with perfect pacing, and a fine balance between exposition of the story, sharp twists, and high-calibre action. The characters are all finely played as well, with great performances from the main cast. However, the real show stealer is Schwarzenegger's performance as the eponymous Terminator. His career-defining performance as a soulless killing machine is what cements this as a classic film in every sense of the word. The film sports a fittingly dark aesthetic, which contemplates the theme of a soulless killer chasing its prey, and the special effects have stood the test of time, and look much better than most special effects do today. Despite being labelled an action film, it's less about action and more about suspense, for the most part, and this film delivers both on a very satisfying level. It's very easy to see why this film has a lasting influence on action movies from the past thirty years, because this film did everything right.

Rebel Without a Cause

Rebel Without a Cause is iconic for some, but not for me. Perhaps there are a few things I missed, but that doesn't exactly matter. I can't exactly relate to the characters in it, since it was made to look at a clash of generations taking place in a different time. The writing might have been pretty solid back in the 1950's, but as a young adult living in today's world, I feel that the writing is simply outdated by today's standards. I've heard that much of the praise was aimed at James Dean's acting, and while I think his performance was pretty good, it doesn't exactly change the overall atmosphere of the movie, which I feel is fairly prosaic, though not without its character. The drama probably comes from the film recreating a generational culture clash, but I don't exactly relate to any of it, so the film doesn't exactly really move me, save for one scene. While it might be a classic for some, and while it's actually a decent movie, I simply can't relate to it, and that ultimately prevents me from enjoying this film to its full potential.

Pokemon - Destiny Deoxys

If you've seen one Pokémon movie, you may as well have seen them all, and in my opinion, Destiny Deoxys is the one entry in the Pokémon film series that epitomizes the repetitious nature of the entire film series, and yet I find it hard to believe that Nintendo have made ten more movies, and that they keep doing this year after year. It's almost as though they finally stopped caring about making movies. In fairness, I'd get tired and cynical if I had to make movies every year. The story isn't completely bad, but it clearly shows a lack of effort, and there isn't a lot of passion. The movie as a whole is tired and predictable, complete with all the trimmings of an overly long episode of the Pokémon anime. The other Pokémon movies were at least shorter, but I can't help but think that a 90-minute Pokémon movie would be a chore, mainly because there's nothing that really moves me at all. If there's one good thing about this movie that's even remotely good, it's the animation, but even that seems standard. All in all, this was a very passionless and artificial shell of a movie, and it may as well be a shell of one's childhood too, because you'd have to be very young to get any enjoyment out of it.

Romeo + Juliet
½

Baz Luhrmann's modern take on Romeo and Juliet puts me in a rather difficult position. On the one hand, I've always been open to artistic interpretation. On the other hand, however, while this film does make a genuine attempt to elevate its ideas, the end result simply doesn't work very well. The idea of Romeo and Juliet in a modern context could have actually worked quite well, but it wasn't executed very well, mainly because the writers apparently decided not to modify the dialogue. The film's script is very faithful to the film's source material, but perhaps it's the film's biggest flaw. The dialogue makes no sense within the context of the film's ostensibly modern setting, almost to the point that it looks like a bad parody of the play. This also has a negative effect on the performances because every character tends to overact in order to try and match the tone of the original play, and it fails horribly. If there's only one thing the film has going for it, it's the film's ability to flaunt its sense of style. The visuals and fight scenes are pretty well done, but it's hard to enjoy them because of the nonsensical overacting that plagues the film. While I do appreciate the attempt, I find myself baffled as to how anyone thought it could work. There are plenty of films based on the play, but I wouldn't recommend this one.

The Mummy
The Mummy(1959)
½

Like the two previous Hammer Horror films, The Mummy sets up a really good atmosphere, but in many ways, this one is inferior to the rest. The story, for instance, is quite predictable, especially because the film uses the same two lead actors as the other two Hammer Horror films. The performances are actually pretty good, but they aren't really as impressive as the performances boasted on Dracula, especially since the film itself seems to be made in the same fashion as Dracula, perhaps exploiting the formula that made the previous films such a success when they were new. That being said, the visuals still look pretty good for the time the film was made, and the atmosphere is constructed pretty well. On the other hand, the film, while still enjoyable, seems ultimately inadequate next to its predecessors, perhaps because it repeats some of the tropes present in the previous films.

Pokemon - Jirachi Wish Maker
½

While this movie is a bit of an improvement over Pokémon Heroes, it's very indifferent to the rest of the film series. The story begins as the Pokémon Advanced Generation series is already in full swing, though to be honest, there's nothing really advanced about the writing, with wishy-washy moral messages prevailing towards the end. To be fair, there are a few humorous moments, but the characters aren't very subtle or enjoyable. The animation may have advanced slightly, but it's fairly unimpressive. I'll fully admit that it's hard to take a Pokémon movie seriously, even for me, but when a movie ends with a giant monster that makes elephant noises, you can just about tell that there are problems afoot. While not irredeemably terrible, this movie, like all other Pokémon movies, is essentially an empty husk that cries out for more, but it doesn't do anything to make the audience want more. You'd have to be very young to really enjoy this movie, and that makes this and the other Pokémon movies a real disservice to older Pokémon fans because of its tired and predictable nature.

Beetlejuice
Beetlejuice(1988)

I like to think of Beetlejuice as a way of showcasing Tim Burton's trademark visual style, but it's more than that. It's a very playful take on death and the afterlife, filled with zany humour and amazing special effects. For some viewers, the story might seem confusing at first, but eventually, everything will be clear, and the film is long enough that there aren't really any pacing issues. The film has a pretty good cast with enjoyable performances from across the spectrum. Beetlejuice himself is a joy of a character, with his devilish motions and overall chaotic personality. If being able to turn into a giant snake doesn't impress you, then I don't know what will. Speaking of which, the visuals are amazing, and they compliment the zany, chaotic world in which the film is set. In this film, the special effects are used very creatively, bringing the unusual and often macabre set pieces to life. Even better is that, thanks to the magic of the film's unique special effects, the characters can do things that many of today's movies won't do. Lastly, I enjoy that it isn't deathly serious, despite the themes that it takes on. It's a fun approach for a fun film that isn't meant to be taken as something serious, very befitting of the time it was made in.

Paranormal Activity

Like all the so-called "found footage" horror films, this film fails at creating the illusion of real terrors, with impotent "thrills" that are basically nothing but hype. The film is incredibly dumb, with some of the stupidest characters I've seen in any film. The film itself is so boring that it almost seems as though nothing happens at all. The only scene with any remote potential for scares is the scene right at the end, and even that scene was rather impotent. If the whole point of the film is that it's based on "found footage", then it's even worse because "found footage" films, in my opinion, are even less convincing than films made with special effects. In fact, it couldn't be more obvious that the film is a charade because it does a terrible job at hiding it. Even worse is the fact that the film resorts to all manner of outdated horror clichés that do nothing other than make it harder to immerse oneself into the movie. Beyond any shred of doubt, this has to be the worst horror movie ever made, mainly because of how unconvincing and soulless it is.

Ghostbusters (1984 Original)

This is a great film for many different reasons, but the biggest one is that it's just so damned fun the whole way through. The story is very straightforward, and is mostly driven by the characters, who are all very well played and are a joy to watch. The film benefits from a solid script that doesn't disappoint, and the performances are always stellar, thanks to the zany humour that's ubiquitous in the film's script. The special effects have held up extremely well, and the film itself is amazing to look at with its eye-popping action scenes and comic twists. What's really more important, however, is the humour, which works on plenty of levels because the film seems to know how to engage you with the engage you with the characters. In my opinion, this is a film that has aged incredibly well over the past thirty years, and it can certainly endure another thirty because of its instant appeal, great special effects, and great characters.

Bruce Almighty

Bruce Almighty is a film that shows so much potential, but the producers squandered it by turning it into another romantic comedy with shoddy writing. The premise is decent enough, but the script is plagued by rampant sermonizing, as if the writers don't get that we watch movies to be entertained. While the moments where Jim Carrey's character exploits his new powers are pretty fun to watch, the writers spend their energies trying to take away every ounce of satisfaction. Jim Carrey is a pretty good lead, and the film's version of God has his charm, but all the other characters are nigh unbearable, especially Steve Carrell's character, who may as well have claimed the award for "worst supporting character in the whole film". The film looks very indifferent to any other rom-com out there, and it is, keeping in mind that I use the term very loosely, since many of the jokes are very hit-or-miss. I find it hard to believe that I used to like this movie, but really, it's just another dumb comedy with a nearly impotent script. If I have to say anything good about this movie, it's that at least it wasn't too boring.

The Curse of Frankenstein
½

Even though I didn't like this movie as much as Dracula (which, ironically enough, was released a year after this film), I can certainly tell that this film holds up really well today, and that it set a precedent for a plethora of gothic horror films like it. The story is pretty well structured, even though there are a few moments where it seems like not much is happening if at all. What I like is that, at the end of the film, it is left uncertain as to whether Victor's story is true, but it seems pretty pointless because you know it happened in the film's story. All that aside, the performances are really good, with the film sporting an ideal lead actor. The visuals have held up surprisingly well for a film as old as this, and it certainly has that classic Hammer style that makes the films so famous in the first place. Though I do question the design choice for the film's monster, it's at least a good portrayal, and it's fun to watch him too.

Pokemon Heroes
½

Watching this film, I got the impression that Nintendo weren't even trying this time. Pokémon Heroes feels like it was put together more haphazardly than any of the previous Pokémon films, which really says a lot because the first Pokémon movie was infinitely cornier than this one. The story is pretty lazy, but at least they tried to do something good, and at least there's a distinct lack of wishy-washy sentimentalism. Even better is the fact that Team Rocket's stupid intro is nowhere to be found in the whole movie, but if you're looking for substance in this movie, you might be disappointed because the film is so terribly short, capping off at only 71 minutes. I know that the film's primary audience consists of kids and Pokémon fans, but I don't really appreciate this movie, and I'm a dedicated Pokémon fan. The acting isn't too bad, but the characters are quite stale, with barely any character development to speak of that isn't incidental. The only way in which this film even comes close to improving is the animation and the art direction, but the 3D effects (which rarely appear) were just awful, and they don't help the cause much. Overall, Nintendo really got lazy with this one. If they actually took more time with it, they could have improved it, but like the rest, it was rushed out for an annual release, and the end result, while not terrible, just seems like it could have been much more.

Bonnie and Clyde
½

It hasn't aged as well as other great films from the 20th century, but it still a unique film in its own right, and quite deserving of its acclaim. It would be naïve to assume that this was just an objectively historical film. Instead, this is a film from the perspective of Bonnie and Clyde, and for something like that, it's actually pretty good. It's a fine example of a movie that takes its time before culminating in a memorable conclusion. The performances were quite realistic, given the context of the film's setting. The film's leading couple make for a rather effective pair of performers, and they seem to suit the role like the clothes they wear. The other characters tend to fade in and out of the background, but there really aren't any bad performances. The film's overall style does give off a kind of corny hillbilly feel, but thankfully, it doesn't happen all the time, and by the end, the mood of the film is irreversibly different. It's impossible to expect a film about two criminals to go without violence, and this film delivers it sparingly, before the film's famously violent climax. To be honest, nothing's wrong with this movie, but it's not as good as some of the other films that have been considered "classics". That said, however, it's still enjoyable in its own way.

King Kong
King Kong(2005)
½

While Peter Jackson's opulent version is faithful to the original classic film that inspired it, it's simply way too self-indulgent and tedious to hold a candle to the classic. The story is essentially a more contemporary reconstruction of the original King Kong, but without any of the simple charm, and an abundance of scenes that seem to only exist as filler. While I like the fact that they were trying to capture the time in which the original King Kong was made, I find that the film is way too absorbed in the style, and what we get is essentially an overly decadent pulp fantasy that revels in its self-imposed antiquity. The acting is alright, but I find it hard to make any connection with the characters. Perhaps I'm not supposed to, but I still think that some of the characters have a tendency to overact. The visuals and special effects, I must admit, were state-of-the-art about a decade ago, but nowadays, they aren't as impressive to me, and I find that this is especially true as the film's bloated length takes its toll. The "epic" action, I feel, doesn't have as much of an impact as it should have, mainly because, like every other scene in the film, the film-makers stretch the monster fight out for as long as they possibly can, to the point that it's more of a chore to watch than it should have been. This should have been a brilliant upgrade to the original King Kong, but if there's one lesson Hollywood keeps forgetting, it's that there's only one true king of the apes.

Octopussy
Octopussy(1983)

Everything that made For Your Eyes Only somewhat likeable will not be found in this lifeless outing, with its clearly ageing star trying and failing to save it from the brink of mediocrity. The story was so boring and needlessly stretched out that it almost reaches the apogee of tedium. Perhaps the tedious nature of the film perfectly encapsulates how irreparably stale the Bond franchise had gotten by this point. The characters are very uninteresting, which is a shame because the Bond films are usually saved by decent performances, and this movie has next to none. The production values were alright, but the film just felt like it was forcing itself onto the viewer with octopus tentacles, and the film's overall style simply feels antiquated to the point of blatant repetition, the only skill that Bond is really good at nowadays. I've heard that the action scenes are pretty good, but in my experience, the action scenes felt inferior to previous Bond films. Everything about this unfortunately titled Bond flick is inferior to its predecessors, and it's precisely this quality, along with the overall lack of creativity that was employed, that makes it one of the worst films the whole franchise.

Horror of Dracula

Though it may seem antiquated to some, this film is the very definition of "Hammer Horror", with style, atmosphere and grandeur being emphasized instead of cheap gore. The story was very well constructed, and even though the film tends to cut to the next scene rather abruptly, these transitions are timed well enough that you can tell what's happening without the film having to waste time explaining everything in an arbitrary fashion. The acting in this movie was brilliant, with some of the most sublime performances I've seen in any film. The film has an incredibly well-crafted sense of style, and if you watch the film, you'll know what you're in for exactly as the film begins. The production values were very impressive for the time the film was made, and they still hold up today, like everything else about the film. Of course, it wouldn't be a real Hammer Horror film is there weren't any thrills, and this is one film that doesn't disappoint. It's a film that's really subtle, but very entertaining. To me, this is a movie that epitomizes almost everything that the horror genre has lost in today's film industry. Even with the presence of countless imitators and parodies, there can only be one classic original.

Pokémon 4Ever
½

It's not as bad as the first Pokémon movie, but unfortunately, it doesn't get much better than that. For the story, they tried as hard as possible for you to be able to enjoy it, and to be fair, the first half of the film is pretty heart-warming, but the second half is where things start to go downhill. As the second half of the film progresses, the overdose of childish sentiment gets more obvious until it culminates in what is essentially a rehash of the crying scene from the first Pokémon movie. The characters are alright, but the acting doesn't help much, especially when Team Rocket arrives just in time to ham it up to the max. I will admit that the animation is pretty good, and the film itself is pretty eye-catching, but good films can't be made purely on looks. While they tried their best with Pokémon 4Ever, the cold hard truth is that the same kind of movie over and over again is going to get old very quickly.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I've wanted to watch this movie for many years, and now that I've finally seen the whole movie, I can say without any doubt that this really is one of the best films ever made. The plot is straightforward, and yet it's so compellingly told, and despite its long runtime, I had no trouble following the story. The acting and performances were superb, but none were better than Clint Eastwood's legendary performance as the "Man with No Name". That being said, all the characters were brilliant, and each of them helps to hammer home this film's depiction of the lawless Old West. The film's greatest strength is its style and overall presentation. The film's theme song recurs as a leitmotif throughout the whole film, and this creates a unique atmosphere that cements this movie's iconic status. The iconic soundtrack and the film's amazing visuals are among the key things that make this movie stand out from other westerns. The director obviously wanted to portray the Old West as a world of violence and fear, and he obviously succeeded with the well choreographed and stylish shoot-outs, and the ending was one of the best endings I've seen. Overall, many people give this film an iconic status, and in all honesty, this movie deserves it. Not only is it the best example of a spaghetti western, but in my opinion, it's the best western of all.

For Your Eyes Only

At the very least they tried to make this one different to the others, and though it suffers some of the same flaws, it does feel more like a fresh entry into the franchise. The plot, unfortunately, covers familiar Bond territory, but at the very least the producers decided to eschew some of the outlandish silliness of the previous film. The characters are alright, but they don't always feel original. I have to say, however, that the film definitely opens well, with the scene before the title creating a good impression of the film, while also showcasing the film's style. The film's style essentially a variation of the familiar Bond style, but revamped for the 1980's. In my opinion, this new approach definitely works, whether it's because of the music, the production values, or the fact that it complements the film's emphasis on action. Apparently the producers realized that by the time this film got made, the audiences wanted action, and this film certainly delivers in that department. Even though it's not good enough to deserve mention alongside the classic Bond films, it's certainly a stylish improvement over the previous film.

Cape Fear
Cape Fear(1991)

Even if you haven't watched the original Cape Fear (which was made back in the 1960's), I guarantee that you'll still enjoy this movie, which I must admit is a great way of bringing the old-fashioned style of thriller films to a newer generation. The plot is fairly straightforward, and there are several exciting plot twists, complete with genuine thrills. The characters, though they aren't the film's strong suit, provide some pretty good performances, and are capable of providing some really engaging, and often creepy moments that are simply entertaining. The film's overall style is quintessential of contemporary Hollywood films from that era, though in the case of this film, I think they were trying to emulate older films in some small way, and this subtle blending of the old and the new works in this film's favour. As a thriller, this is a film that attempts to shock its audience and kindle the senses, and in that department, it most definitely succeeds. Cape Fear is a very enjoyable film, and I bet that it'll hold up for many years to come.

I Am Legend
I Am Legend(2007)

When I was younger, I thought this was one of the worst movies ever made. In retrospect, I was rather impatient. It's not the worst movie ever made, but in my opinion, it's still quite overrated, and really boring. While the film itself wasn't incredibly long, the story itself is paced in such a way that it's hard to follow, because the first half of the film basically consisted of virtually nothing happening. The acting is decent, but it's nothing to write an outstanding report about, especially when the plot starts to make less and less sense, to the point that it's baffling that the characters are even going along with it. If there's one good thing I have to say about this movie in particular, it's that the production values are quite decent. Even then, however, the special effects are questionable at best, and the film itself is quite a pain to sit through, especially when you have to witness the slow and horrible death of the main character's dog. In short, this was a film that, on top of being boring, was painful to watch in so many ways, but there are movies that were much worse.

Moon
Moon(2009)
½

While I do criticize the plot for going off on a tangent sometimes, Moon is still a pretty good movie, mainly because the film-makers knew exactly what kind of atmosphere was right for this movie. The film is centred around the premise of mining helium-3 on the Moon, but it doesn't really focus on that within its 90-minute runtime. Instead, its focus is on the interactions between a human and an artificial intelligence, much like in many sci-fi films from the old days. The acting is really good, but as the film progresses, there tends to be an overdose of shouting, and the film's generally quiet pacing often works against the film itself. The production values, meanwhile, look better than a lot of films made today, and the visual effects are very appealing and fit very well with this movie. Even though a lot of the drama is based on swearing, this film itself does manage to communicate the emotions of its human characters quite effectively. It might not be one of the best sci-fi films out there, but it's certainly one of the most original movies of the last five years, and that's good enough for me.

Pokemon 3: The Movie

It's worth noting that this was the last Pokémon movie to be screened in UK cinemas, and if later movies indicate anything, this isn't a good sign of thing to come. By this point, Nintendo was still doing all they can to cash in on the Pokémon craze of the early 2000's, and it was getting clear that Nintendo was going to make a new Pokémon movie every year. Out of all the Pokémon movies, this is most likely the last one of them that might actually be worth watching. The plot was a little better than the last movie, with a genuine attempt to communicate emotion, but when the movie actually starts, it'll seem as though the corniness of the 90's hasn't changed in this movie. The characters are pretty enjoyable, but sometimes, there are cornier moments that ruin it for me. Naturally, the film sports better quality animation than its predecessor, and there's some neat special effects, though I am a little bothered by the fact that Pokémon in this movie can do things that they can't do in the games. If you're a fan of the Pokémon games, or even the anime, then it might be enjoyable, but otherwise, you might not feel the same way.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

The last Mortal Kombat film was cheesy, but at least that movie was watchable. For the sequel, it seems as though they cut corners wherever they could. The story makes absolutely no logical sense, and feels as though it was written by a bunch of kids. The explanation they give for the plot wouldn't be so bad if it was given better context, as opposed to the sloppy sequel writing that is clearly demonstrated here. The acting is terrible, but in this movie, most of it is because they hired terrible actors, and these were worse than the actors in the previous movie. The special effects were simply abominable, and some of them look blatantly unfinished and lazily implemented. The overall production values are extremely low, which is completely bizarre when you consider that this movie had a bigger budget than its predecessor. The whole film felt completely mindless, right down to the incompetent and impotent fight scenes, which look like they were choreographed by a bunch of drunken barflies. I can tell beyond any shred of doubt that this was one of the worst movies ever made, and I guarantee that if you watch it, it'll make you feel really guilty about watching it, because if you watched it, you've just wasted your time.

Joe Kidd
Joe Kidd(1972)

It certainly is an appealing Western, and it shows a lot of promise, but compared to other films of its genre, it seems like a watered down version of films like A Fistful of Dollars. The story is alright, but I find that the pacing is a little too fast, by which I mean the plot speeds along so fast that parts of the plot can seem really insignificant. The acting, meanwhile, is quite good, even if the characters aren't always interesting. Like many westerns, this movie has appealing visuals and good music, but that's not the whole of what makes a good movie. While I enjoy it in some ways, it will never be as good as the Western films that it's clearly burrowing from. To be honest, the only bad thing about this movie is that tried and failed to match the comparatively lofty kings of Western genre.

Moonraker
Moonraker(1979)

At this point, the Bond franchise was beginning to age terribly, and was getting increasingly redundant, and not to mention alienated from its source material. Despite all this, the producers didn't want to give up as long as Bond was still an effective cash cow. However, this particular Bond film stands out, mainly because it's completely ludicrous. The plot is muddled and confused, probably because the writers had no idea what to do with their ideas (there's even a ridiculous scene where Bond rides out in a Western-style poncho on horseback). Also, from what I've heard, the film has absolutely nothing to do with the novel upon which this is supposedly based, and what we get is another bland Bond flick that's stuck in the 60's. The acting is pretty standard, which is bad because it does nothing to distract from the fact that nothing has really changed. Though the visuals might be appealing, and the laser effects look pretty good, but nothing about this film really feels right, and I just know that they only put in the ridiculous sci-fi elements to exploit on the success of Star Wars. Say what you will, but this is easily the worst Bond movie of the 70's, and it's too silly to be even remotely enjoyable.

The World Is Not Enough
½

In this by-the-numbers Bond adventure, I can certainly see that things haven't changed at all since the last movie. The big difference here is that the producers have apparently decided to make this film into more of an action movie. The big problem is that Bond has to be recast as something of an action hero, which is awkward considering that he's still trying to pull off the archaic charm of the suave super-spy, which unfortunately doesn't go very far. Also, the fact that this feels more like an action movie can only make the plot seem even more contrived than it needs to be. They could easily have trimmed the film a bit, removing some of the scenes that don't need to be there, and they would have pulled it off decently. Instead, we have a confused Bond movie that has no idea of what it's meant to be. There is a lot of action in this movie, and that's all fine and dandy, but there's such a thing as oversaturation, and this film tries to jam too much action in order to hide how contrived it is. It's probably safe to assume that the Bond films will never recapture their lustre, and from here, things could only get worse.

The Game
The Game(1997)

While it often seems overly convoluted, The Game manages to be fairly entertaining. The story becomes more and more intricate as the lines between the game and the real world are blurred further and further, and the tension this creates can lead to some real emotional moments from the characters. Michael Douglas' performance as the lead role is the obvious highlight of the movie, mainly because there isn't one bad moment with this character. The other characters, while not bad on their own, often struggle to pick up the pace, with a few noticeable exceptions. The production values are pretty decent, and the film itself maintains a solid atmosphere. However, I can't get over the film's heavily questionable ending, which feels like it was just shoehorned into the film just for the sake of giving the main character a happy ending. Other than that, it's a pretty decent thriller, and it was definitely an ambitious thriller that's worth trying out.

Pokemon - The Movie 2000

You might be inclined to think that this movie is worse than its predecessor, you'd be wrong. While some of the flaws from the previous movie are still present, and even though it doesn't follow the Pokémon games much, it's actually an improvement over the first Pokémon movie, if you can believe that. The story is alright, and the writing isn't as cheesy as the first Pokémon movie, but it isn't particularly clever. Then again, can I really expect anything clever from a movie with "2000" in the title? The characters aren't too special, but the acting, for the most part, is tolerable. The villain, on the other hand, has pretty decent voice acting, better even than most of the other characters, even though it isn't incredibly special. The animation has clearly been brought up to a marginally higher standard, which is good because the battles between the legendary Pokémon are quite eye-catching. Best of all, the film is paced decently well, and it's not nearly as corny as its predecessor. Even though it has its flaws, and even though it's more enjoyable for kids, I'm honestly much more comfortable watching this movie than the first Pokémon movie, and that in itself says quite a lot about the first Pokémon movie.

The Rundown
The Rundown(2003)
½

Try not to get too get too excited, because there's nothing particularly moving about this by-the-numbers action flick with lousy humour. Though the film's poster says "cut to the chase", the film itself doesn't really do that. In fact, it tends to get caught up in a contrived, cliché-ridden plot that tries to weave so many useless elements in order to make it seem like more than a dumb action movie. The characters and acting, suffice it to say, are unimpressive at best, and unbearably standoffish at worst. The actors don't seem that motivated, and when they try to act better, they just make it even worse. The production values are so bad that the whole film is simply awful to look at, and for me, that's the worst part about the movie. I'll fully admit that films shouldn't be judged by how they look, but if you're not going to enjoy looking at the movie, you probably won't enjoy sitting through it. Besides, even the action could have been better, and the humour is just bland and almost non-existent. If you can find anything enjoyable about this movie, that's fine, but in my eyes, this is a movie that fails to be anything more than a waste of time.

A Fistful of Dollars (Per un Pugno di Dollari)

While much of the plot was borrowed from Akiro Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Sergio Leone knows exactly how to make something new and original out of it, and the end result would influence spaghetti westerns for many years to come. This also happens to be one of my favourite movies of the genre, if not my personal favourite. I say this mainly because of the film's incredible sense of style, which is balanced perfectly with an equally good level of substance. The plot moves along at a steady, comfortable pace, and it's good enough that you won't be bored to death sitting through it, which is all too often the case for many old western films. The acting is above average, and every character comes to life very effectively, and the film-makers know just how to usher in the man with no name, whose stellar performance defines the whole movie. The film itself looks and sounds fantastic, with brilliant production values, and stellar action movies. For me, this is the definitive spaghetti western. It was entertaining, it looked fantastic, and it had all the hallmarks of a great, satisfying western with guns blazing.

The Spy Who Loved Me
½

By the time this movie came out, the 007 film franchise had been going on for fifteen years, and if a franchise goes on for this long, it's inevitably going to go stale. The Spy Who Loved Me is probably the first example of the 007 franchise going stale. I'll admit that the characters are pretty decent, and the film utilizes its star henchman, Jaws, to good effect. The movie also has a really good sense of style, and polished production values, but some scenes don't look as polished. My main complaint is that the story is bland. It follows the same old tradition of having Bond going up against a megalomaniacal super villain in some sort of contrived plot. It's the same old money-making formula, complete with ridiculous gadgets, and despite the multitude of explosive action scenes, this movie just feels really repetitive. Though in all fairness, it's not as silly as it could have been.

The Blues Brothers

It's over the top, and it seems more focused on style and car chases, but it's the style and unpredictable humour that, in my opinion, reinforce this film's appeal. The plot can be a little difficult to follow sometimes, mainly because the film tends to get sidetracked by all the wacky, seemingly random gags and characters. While some of the jokes can seem random, it's not a machine gun of comedy, and at least the jokes have some relevance to the plot, even if that relevance comes later on. The performances from the film's main cast are very good, even if some of the characters aren't as special, and I find the main characters to be really appealing. The film certainly knows how to flaunt its style, which I might have expected from a film called "The Blues Brothers". Speaking of that, the film's musical style is a whimsical combination of old blues and R&B, which works well with the film's atmosphere. For me, the best part of the film is its final scenes, which all add up to one truly zany spectacle. If you're interested in seeing a movie that's different to anything else out there, I'd give this movie a good look.

Star Trek IV - The Voyage Home

This is undeniably one of the sillier Star Trek movies, perhaps as a result of the film's intentionally light-hearted direction. To be fair, I mainly say this because of the film's ridiculous plot, which involves travelling back in time to save the Earth by collecting humpback whales. While there is a reasonable explanation for all this, I still find it hard to follow the plot, mainly because I can't really take it seriously. Nonetheless, the film is still an effective vehicle for a talented cast. The skilled performances from the iconic Star Trek cast prove that there's still some life left in the franchise. The film sports some very high production values, and some really good special effects, but there are moments in the film that aren't exactly spectacular. It's okay, and even though it's not as good as its predecessors, there's still enough talent and enthusiasm poured into it that it's still worth watching, even if only in a small way.

Carnival Story
½

It's not completely bad, but it's just really weird to me, and part of it is because I can't make sense of what's going on in the film. In this regard, this is because the film has such a boring atmosphere that it's difficult to follow the plot. The film's biggest problem is that it's technically outdated, and it even looks outdated. The plot isn't really bad, but it's boring, as are the characters. The performances aren't very special, mainly because the dated style of acting. Suffice it to say, everything about the film is very outdated, and, in the case of this film, that makes it harder to enjoy the film because there isn't much that could possibly make it interesting. It might be worth seeing once for curiosity's sake, but as far as I'm concerned, that's about it.

Pokemon the First Movie - Mewtwo vs. Mew
½

When I was a kid, I used to love this movie, primarily because I was such a hardcore Pokémon fan back then. Today, even though I'm still a very big Pokémon fan, I have mixed feelings about this movie. While watching it today provides plenty of nostalgia, I should point out that good film-making cannot be based purely on nostalgia. In fact, watching this movie today isn't exactly as spectacular as it would have been in the past, mainly because I now see it for what it is. Thankfully, it's only 75 minutes long, but the writing is incredibly cheesy, and because of this, the film can either be pretty enjoyable, or a corny test of patience. The characters are okay, but the since this movie is based off the popular Pokémon anime, be prepared for some really cheesy acting and lousy dialogue. The animation is actually quite decent for its time, and the Pokémon battles look admittedly pretty, but the music is quite typical, and I can't stand some of the vocal tracks they made for this movie. Even with all I've said, it's not completely terrible. It may be incredibly corny, but to go so far as to dismiss it as nothing more than "a commercial disguised as a feature film" is simply ludicrous. Even if this movie has some redeeming qualities, it simply hasn't aged well, mainly because the Pokémon games have changed so much since 1999, and also because the cheesy writing keeps it from being anything more than a relic of the 1990's.

Die Hard 2
Die Hard 2(1990)

Of all the Die Hard movies, this is the one I've seen the most, and though it probably isn't as good as its predecessor, it certainly knows how to capture some of the appeal that its predecessor had, resulting in a highly enjoyable sequel that lives up to the standards set by the first Die Hard movie. The plot does seem like it's a rehash of the first movie at times, but for the most part, it's an entertaining ride, thanks mainly to Bruce Willis' characteristic performance as the main hero. The rest of the film's cast is fairly interesting, but they're all bolstered by good performances, which, for the most part, helps to make sure that they aren't just filler characters. The film looks just as good as its predecessor, and although it seems odd that the writers decided to carry on the holiday theme, that doesn't seem to hinder the film in any way. If anything, I actually like the snowy locales in this movie. The action scenes are paced decently, but when the action happens, it's always good to watch, especially when it's the airplane explosion at the end. Even though it pales in comparison to the first Die Hard movie, and indeed other action movies from its time, it's still a movie that I'd enjoy watching.

The Patriot
The Patriot(2000)

It would be fairly easy to think of this as Braveheart if it was set during the American Revolution, but then again, at least Braveheart was entertaining. This movie, on the other hand, just goes on and on with nothing much to show for it. The characters and acting, I'll admit, are fairly decent, but the story suffers because of the film's borderline excessive length, and the excessive moralizing and melodrama of some of the characters. I make no exaggeration when I say that this movie was really painful to watch. There was action and drama, but all of it was a pretty shallow attempt to convince you that you're actually watching a movie. It feels more like an overly romanticized history lesson, and it even does a bad job at that as well. I'll admit that the film at least looks polished, but that doesn't change the fact that this movie is so boring. It's not irredeemably bad, but I don't see much of a reason to care about this movie.

The Man with the Golden Gun

The Man with the Golden Gun is a mediocre Bond adventure to say the least, and the reason I say that is because it just didn't feel as strong or as fresh as any of its predecessors. That's not to say it's a bad movie. In fact, it's actually a decent Bond movie, but there's nothing unique about it. The plot is rather average compared to other Bond films, and it comes close to being quite ludicrous Bond plot. The characters aren't too bad. Roger Moore still does something of a good job as Bond, and the main villains are really entertaining, but the other characters don't do much, and Mary Goodnight's clumsy characterization is almost as bad as Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. If there's one thing this film does right, it's the film's style. It looks like a polished Bond film of its time, but it's not as much of an electrifying action movie as its predecessors. Really, the only bad thing about this movie is that it can't live up to the high standards set by older Bond films.

Scarface
Scarface(1983)

Scarface is classic in a way that I find it hard to describe. It's a highly stylized, yet powerful gangster epic that doesn't waste any time. The story seems to carry mixed messages, but it manages to balance the stylized excess with its subtly moral drama. The acting is superb, with powerful performances from every character, and each character develops very well. It's as though the main character has an effect on the rest of the cast, dragging everyone he used to love down with him when he starts to fall. The film is presented very well, with excellent production values and a great overall atmosphere. The violence actually helps the film's atmosphere rather than hinders it, and there's just enough of it that it's very satisfying from beginning to end. For me, this is the quintessential gangster epic, the one that every gangster film since then has tried and failed to imitate, and it's one of my personal favourite films of all time.

Batman: The Movie
½

It's not horribly bad, but it's essentially a feature-length episode of the Batman TV series. If you loved the Batman TV series, I'm sure you'll probably enjoy this movie, but if you didn't like the TV series, then I'm sure you won't like this movie. The story is just as silly and nonsensical as any of the episodes of the TV show, and because I already saw one episode, nothing about this movie in particular seems new. After all, if you've seen one episode of the TV series, you've seen them all. The characters are all incredibly goofy, though that's to be expected considering that this movie has the same camp atmosphere as the TV show that inspired it. The only thing about this movie that's different to the TV show is the title sequence, which felt as though they were trying and failing to make the camp atmosphere into an art form. At the very least the film maintains a comic book atmosphere, but with mediocre special effects, camp acting, and a generally silly central premise, this movie does very little to make you think it's anything other than a cheap exploitation of the Batman TV series.

Star Trek III - The Search for Spock
½

While it may not be as good as its predecessor, I still think it's an enjoyable Star Trek movie, with all the hallmarks of a film that's faithful to its parent franchise. The plot, I'll admit, might not always make sense, but eventually it's easier to understand where in particular the film is going. Besides, there don't appear to be any serious pacing issues whatsoever. The acting isn't that great, at least not compared to previous films, or even episodes of the franchise, but I think they did a decent job with the characters, and thanks to the iconic main cast, it certainly feels right. The best part of the movie is what you can see. The special effects are really good, the set pieces look very well-done, and the characters look very good too. There isn't a lot of action in this movie, which seems to focus on the story most of the time, but it's worth watching for the spectacle, and that's ultimately why it's a good movie.

Rush Hour 2
Rush Hour 2(2001)
½

While it's certainly more of a generic buddy cop film than its predecessor, but it has everything I could possibly want from a Rush Hour movie. The plot is a little generic, but it does offer some surprise twists that actually work. Besides, action movies usually aren't about story, and this film benefits more from its main characters, and its zany script. The characters by themselves aren't too special, but Chris Tucker's character steals the show with his consistently hilarious persona. A lot of the comedy is fuelled by him, and he makes it so much more than just a dull buddy cop feature. While the film's style doesn't feel as fresh when compared to its predecessor, it still feels right, and while this film isn't really heavy on the action scenes, it's definitely funnier than the original. Whether you loved or hated it, you'll almost invariably find yourself comparing it to its predecessor, but I think it's still a good movie on its own, if mainly due to Chris Tucker's hilarious performance.

Twins
Twins(1988)
½

Though it's not one of the worst films I've seen, it could easily have been better if the film-makers actually made more of an effort than merely capitalizing on the two biggest stars they can find. The premise is pretty ridiculous, mainly because the eponymous twins are so different that they can't realistically be considered twins, even if they were both non-identical twins. I get that they were trying to discredit the notion of "perfect genetics", but they didn't do it very well, and what we have is a plot that seems really confused. If there's one thing I should give this movie credit for, it's that the acting is actually quite decent. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito make a good pair of leads, but this chemistry doesn't really translate into good humour, and there aren't a lot of good jokes anyway. How this movie became popular back in the 80's is something I don't understand. It's not irredeemably bad, but it's pretty lame, and quite ridiculous.

The Silence of the Lambs
½

Without much doubt, I can safely say that this is one of the better examples of the horror genre. I mainly say this because of the film's approach to horror, and because it was genuinely well-written. The story is paced in a very balanced way, and the way the story progresses always manages to keep me on my toes for whatever happens next. The characters are fleshed out very well, and every character manages to be entertaining in a weirdly effective way, thanks to some stellar performances from the film's cast of characters. The obvious star of the show is Hannibal Lecter, the deranged, calculating psychopath who has everyone else right in the palm of his hand. This character, naturally, had a lot of potential, and I think that the film-makers fulfilled that potential. The film exudes a kind of darkly sinister atmosphere, but it won't seem that way until you watch enough of the film. Really, the biggest reason why this movie was so great was because of the genuine thrills, which derive from the overall insanity of the film's main villains.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

This movie is something of a mixed bag. It is pretty much an unnecessary sequel, but there are still things I can enjoy about it. For instance, the film sports an all-star cast, most of which perform quite well, but Shia LaBeouf's character is simply unlikable, and is a somewhat lame attempt to replace Charlie Sheen's character in the original Wall Street film. Another problem is that the plot uses a lot of economic jargon. However, it isn't so bad that you be an economics expert to get it. On the plus side, the film looks really crisp and clean, with a decent atmosphere that befits its setting. It doesn't have the same quality as its predecessor, but it's still watchable.

Tomorrow Never Dies

It's not as good as GoldenEye, but I still find this action-packed entry to be quite enjoyable in some way, even if it is a somewhat by-the-numbers entry in the franchise. The plot isn't exactly original, but it isn't so bad that it's boring. To be completely fair, story isn't entirely important in a movie that focuses on action. The characters and acting are fairly decent, though the script sometimes has its more hackneyed moments. Thankfully, Bond himself is enough of an endearing character that his performance kind of saves the movie, or at least makes it easier to ignore some of the flawed acting and script. The production values on this movie are decent, but they tend to be overshadowed by the film's special effects. Perhaps the best part of the movie is the action scenes, which, while not as good as in other action movies, are still quite a spectacle. While this isn't the best Bond movie out there, at least it's not as redundant as some of the other Bond movies that came before it.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

I had fairly low expectations for this movie, and it turns out that this movie didn't disappoint, because it fails both as a fantasy action spectacle, and as a comic book sequel. I'll admit that there are a few minor areas in which the film improved over its predecessor. For instance, there aren't as many unbearable characters, and the special effects are slightly better. However, that doesn't make up for the film's shoddy writing, which, if you can believe it, is even worse the film's predecessor, to the point that the story constantly gets worse. It wouldn't be so bad if the writers knew how to handle the film's concept, which would have been decent if it weren't held back by incompetent writing, a lame script, and Nicholas Cage's signature bad acting. The fight scenes are okay, but they look poorly done. In fact, I can't help but think they were heavily neutered just to make the film more accessible, but it just ruins the movie and makes it harder for me to overlook the obvious writing problems. Given everything I just said, it's no wonder why Nicholas Cage doesn't want to be the Ghost Rider more, and abandoning the Ghost Rider franchise might just be the smartest move he's ever made.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
½

At first glance, it may seem like a saccharine family film, but if you watch it from beginning to end, you'll see that it's a very entertaining film that's great for audiences of all ages. The plot is simple enough, but I find that it's a very interesting allegory of what happens to people who let themselves get consumed by their own greed. I know that sounds like a pretty deep interpretation, but I found it hard to not come to that conclusion. Besides, the story and characters are so entertaining and immersive that I can easily lose myself in the setting, and this I feel is what a great movie should do. The overall style very whimsical and enchanting, with some zany and colourful visuals, coupled with genuinely amazing special effects. All that is great, but what cements this movie is the performance of every character, and should also mention the musical numbers. Not only are they short and sweet, but unlike most musical numbers, they're actually entertaining. In fact, the musical numbers are some of the best parts of this movie. To sum it up, it's an extremely entertaining and well-made movie that stands the test of time.

Live and Let Die
½

For me, this was the last great Bond film, mainly because of how well it was made, and because Roger Moore proved that he could play the lead role about as well as his predecessor. The premise is an interesting departure from the usual megalomaniacal schemes, and the film seems to have tapped into some of the archetypes and clichés that were popular during the time it was made. I like the direction this film went, mainly because it creates a unique atmosphere that isn't present in any other Bond film. The characters were really entertaining, and the appealing performances from both Bond and the villains made the film more enjoyable. The film's overall style is among the best that the Bond franchise has to offer, including one of my favourite Bond themes. Of course, even though Bond is about style, I haven't forgotten that style is not as important as substance, and thankfully, this film has substance. The action scenes are done so well that it doesn't matter how Bond gets out of a nearly impossible situation, and that's because it's fun to watch him do just that. While it's not my favourite Bond film, it's still one of the greatest Bond films out there, and I'd watch it any time.

Die Hard
Die Hard(1988)
½

Don't let the holiday façade fool you, because this is a quintessential action movie, but in my opinion, it's cleverer than most of the others. The plot unfolds in a way that is genuinely engaging. Even if you've seen it before, I guarantee that you'll still be waiting to find out what happens next. The characters are very well-written, with personality that really comes alive as the movie progresses. For once, it's the main villain that steals the show with his sublime acting, as well as the way he goes about being the bad guy. That's not to say that the good guy isn't any good. In fact, the main hero is awesome, and he's responsible for the film's most memorable moments. The film sports some excellent production values, but what really cements this movie is the action. When it comes to action, violence and explosions, this movie plays it cool, waiting for exactly the right moment, and it's still awesome. While it's not my favourite 80's action movie (that would be Rambo), I still consider this movie to be among the greats. It's simply too cool to resist.

F/X
F/X(1986)
½

For a film about special effects, this one is more than meets the eye. The film's premise, which revolves around a special effects wizard who's hired to stage a real assassination, immediately seemed like an interesting concept, and to my surprise, it actually works quite well. The characters perform quite well, and they all work within the setting as best as they can. The plot of this movie constantly gets better, as the main character begins to fear for his life to the point of paranoia, and the film doesn't appear to have a lot pacing problems. Of course, a movie called "F/X" is inevitably going to focus on special effects, and for once, this actually makes sense within the context of the story. This film has quite a few stand-out set pieces made specifically for this movie, and they're used quite effectively. There are a few scenes that showcase SFX work being done as part of the plot, and those scenes are among the most immersive that the film has to offer. Overall, this is a movie that lives up to its name, but is also really entertaining in its own right.

Star Trek: First Contact
½

I must admit that my expectations for this film weren't very high, but when I watched it, I found that it's actually a good movie. Though I'm not exactly familiar with the story of the boring TV show that inspired it, I can definitely tell that they were going somewhere with the plot of this movie, even if there are parts of the story that don't make much sense. The acting is quite good, but what cements it is Patrick Stewart's performance as the lead character. I find that there's plenty of depth to the characters, and that it was pretty hard to view them as merely one-dimensional characters. For me, however, the film's forte is special effects. The film sports crisp production values, and some really eye-catching special effects that drive some of the action. There are a few things that require you to be a Star Trek fan to understand (and I'm not a Star Trek fan, so in that case, I'm kind of screwed), but aside from that, I think that this film is good enough that it might be an ideal introduction to the Star Trek series if you're unfamiliar with it.

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider(2007)
½

To be fair, this film isn't completely terrible, but there simply isn't a lot of real substance to this movie. If there's anything positive I have to say about this film, it's that the special effects are actually pleasing to the eye. The eponymous Ghost Rider, when he's actually fighting, can stir up quite a spectacle, but it's fairly mediocre compared to other action movies. While the action and special effects are mildly entertaining, I can't say the same about the plot and characters. The plot is stupid and riddled with clichés, but the characters are even worse. It's bad enough that the characters are all terribly stereotypical, but the acting and dialogue are banality incarnate, with Nicholas Cage's performance being the most indefensible. This is a movie that could have been good, but the producers were apparently too lazy to put enough effort into making an action-packed experience that's worth watching.

American Pie
American Pie(1999)
½

I honestly have no idea why this movie was so popular. It's just a cliché teen sex romp that promotes a maelstrom of debilitating stereotypes. I think that American Pie set the stage for the final degradation of the teen movie genre, primarily because of how immature it is, especially on sex and girls. I probably shouldn't be too surprised though, since the story focuses on nothing but the unrealistic sexual fantasies of its male cast, to the point that it is the basis for the plot. The characters are very shallow and one-dimensional, but then again, I kind of expected this, since the whole movie is about sex. Having already lived out my teenage years, I can safely say that I don't relate at all to the characters, or whatever problems they have, and I say this because the characters simply aren't realistic at all. Simply put it, American Pie is an over-glorified, unfunny cash cow that set the stage for the decline of not just teen comedy, but also Hollywood comedy movies as a whole. On the other hand, I kind of expected it to be that bad a movie.

The Stepford Wives

What happens when you take an intelligent sci-fi thriller with genuine social commentary, and filter it through a camp atmosphere? You get a vacuous mockery of the original Stepford Wives movie, almost as though the movie became its own Stepford wife. They changed the movie so much that it's almost unrecognisable, with none of the symbolism that was used so effectively in the original movie. The characters are all horrible to watch, perhaps because none of them develop well, and they're all bastardized versions of the cast of the original film. The worst part of the film's incredibly camp acting is that the film's all-star cast doesn't seem to be very enthusiastic at all, as could be indicated by their frustratedly sloppy performance. The film looks like a wishy-washy, saccharine sitcom, complete with the eponymous wives looking almost like plastic. The producers obviously tried making this more of a comedic take on the original 70's film, but the writing is just so abominable that it fails in every way. Finally, I should mention the ending, which is the kind of ending that just constantly gets worse. The ending starts out with a complete distortion of the original movie, then builds up to the most ridiculous plot twist I've seen in any movie, before finishing off with a vacuous female fantasy that's even more chauvinistic than the shadowy men's association from the original movie. To cut a long story short, they took an intelligent movie, and turned it into one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and in this regard, this is one of the most shameless Hollywood failures ever made.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
½

It's said that there's a point in every film series where, after it has passed its prime, it becomes absurd and ridiculous. In the case of Indiana Jones, this film would be that point. While it's not technically bad, I just felt that it was unnecessary, mainly because the original trilogy of films was already great. I admit that the film does take something of an interesting direction, but there's hardly anything that isn't similar to anything that has already been done in any previous Indiana Jones movie. Also, I find that the plot points feel rather predictable, almost as though they don't want to take a chance with this movie. The acting isn't that great, and some of the characters, including the main villain, seem more like cookie-cutter stereotypes than actual characters. Also, Shia LaBeouf's character has all the hallmarks of a rather forgettable ancillary character, but it's even worse due to his shallow personality. It seems that this movie focused on special effects, and this movie is loaded with them. Unfortunately, the special effects are quite cheesy compared to the original Indiana Jones movies. It doesn't help that a lot of the action scenes seem to rely on special effects, almost as though Indy can't do anything on his own anymore. We didn't need a fourth Indiana Jones movie, but when we got one, it was relatively unsatisfying. To say that it's awful is a bit of a stretch, but it's definitely the black sheep of the Indiana Jones film franchise.

Casino Royale

Before this, I honestly thought that View to a Kill was the worst James Bond movie ever made. If this even counts as a James Bond movie by anyone's stretch of the imagination, then this has got to be the worst. It basically amounts to an overly extravagant spoof of the earlier Bond films, but the script is howlingly unfunny, and the film itself is about as subtle as amateur porn. The characters are pure garbage, especially this film's incarnation of James Bond, which is a blatant contradiction to the James Bond in the actual movies. As for the rest of the cast, it's nothing but a cavalcade of embarrassingly dated stereotypes that fail to induce so much as a chuckle. The film's style, at first, seems a little weird, but as the film stretches on, it quickly seems ridiculously overblown. The ending is just plain crazy, with Native American warriors, cowboys, sea lions and chimp in the same place as a secret agent movie. The writers obviously thought it was so crazy it would be funny, but no, it isn't. The whole movie is a shambolic mess than can't even be called a parody, or even a James Bond movie. It's just garbage that doesn't deserve to exist.

Total Recall
Total Recall(1990)

Of all the Schwarzenegger action films out there, this one is quite possibly the best. It's home to some of the most memorable moments in the history of action movies, and I find that it manages to mix a complex and cerebral plot with the kind of frenetic, ultraviolent action that cinemagoers pay to see. The characters are all played very well, especially during the parts of the story where the main character is trying to figure out where everything really fits. Speaking of that, I actually like how the main character develops throughout the film, especially since this leads to some of the greatest moments in Schwarzenegger's career. The film looks and sounds fantastic, with top-notch special effects and costumes that work well with the film's particular atmosphere. Of course, since this is an action, nothing is more important than action, which is all fine and dandy because in this film, nothing can overshadow the film's fast-paced and satisfyingly violent action scenes. As a sci-fi movie, it's very unique, and as an action movie, it's one the absolute classics that you really must see at least once in your lifetime.

Live Free or Die Hard
½

If you need any proof that Die Hard was meant for the late 80's and early 90's, then this film is the best possible proof. The movie is from the perspective of an ageing John McClane, and it seems that it's impossible to hide that he's out of touch with today's world, mainly because the film sees him acting as though things haven't changed since 1995. However, the writing is heavily biased in his favour, and the younger characters tend to suffer because of it. Every character other than John McClane seems to come across as quite flat, with neither the acting nor personality to back them up. The story can best be summed up as an overblown paranoid fantasy about hacking, and it just seems contrived compared to the genuinely exciting Die Hard. The film looks okay, but I feel that it just looks overly gritty, almost as though it's just another trendy action movie from the current era. The only redeeming quality is the action scenes, but they're not as good as they were in the older Die Hard films. On its own, it's not too bad, but it just feels like it makes Die Hard look outdated, and that's a very serious problem that overshadows the whole movie.

Rush Hour
Rush Hour(1998)

Rush Hour is honestly a very entertaining movie, even if it's not as clever as other movies. The plot isn't exactly clever, but I can forgive it because action movies rarely have clever storylines. Besides, the characters are really entertaining, with Chris Tucker's comical one-liners and Jackie Chan's skill as an action movie star coming together to make an effective duo. On another note, the script is actually quite funny, but the movie itself maintains a fine balance between seriousness and humour. The film has a really good sense of style, but in this kind of movie, the most important thing is the action, and the action scenes are very well choreographed. There are a lot of these scenes in this movie, and these scenes are done so well that it doesn't get old. It may not be as serious as other cop movies, but it's pure entertainment, and that's satisfying by itself.

Brazil
Brazil(1985)
½

This is a very strange movie, in that I can't exactly wrap my head around it, but at the same time, it uses its arsenal of surreal images in such an entertaining manner that it doesn't exactly matter. The story, at times, can get a little confusing, but it comes together in an interesting and entertaining manner, which in a way, makes up for the film's slightly overstretched length. The characters are quite strange, but the acting helps in so many ways, and the characters are fleshed out pretty well. Perhaps my favourite parts of the movie, which I'll admit is also the weirdest, are these surreal daydreaming scenes in which the main character is depicted as a winged hero whose goal is to save the woman of his dreams. These scenes are the most bizarre parts of the movie, but they also showcase the richest imagery in the film, along with representing a form of blissful insanity. Overall, this film may be strange and hard to follow, but with its unique twists, it's entertaining enough that it's worth at least one good look.

The Spirit
The Spirit(2008)

This movie tried to copy the overall style and atmosphere of Sin City, but it fails so hard and so many levels that it winds up being just blatantly ridiculous. The film's story is hard to take seriously, especially with such ridiculously out-of-place concepts like The Golden Fleece and the Blood of Heracles, but what really hampers the story is the unlikable lead character, who won't stop spouting all those pretentious metaphors he uses to describe his city. Speaking of the characters, the acting is so terrible that it makes me wonder how much of an effort the actors even made. I suppose that's what happens when most of the cast comprises of no-name actors, and not even the only two big-name actors (Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson) do anything to make it better. Instead, I find Samuel L. Jackson spouting the cheesiest lines he's ever been paid to make, and that's still nothing compared to all the other cheesy lines. The action scenes are badly choreographed, to the point that some of the shooting is filmed from ridiculous angles, almost in a pathetic attempt to hide how much of a bad job they did. The worst part about this movie is the style. They tried to imitate Sin City's gritty style, but they did such a half-assed job at it that ended up not only making it look worse, but they also made it look and sound much campier. Say what you will about Batman & Robin, but let me tell you, the people who made Batman and Robin are probably looking at this and laughing. The Spirit is basically a terrible comic book movie, and with no redeeming qualities, it's the worst in that category.

Reign of Fire

To put it bluntly, this is one of the worst movies I've had the misfortune of seeing. This time, I didn't have any positive expectations. At best, I expected it to be so bad that it's actually funny, but this movie is so bad that it really is bad. Honestly, what can I say about this movie that isn't howlingly obvious? The story is shockingly ludicrous and terrible, the characters are stupid and forgettable, and the special effects are below sub-par. If that wasn't bad enough, this seems to remind me of another ridiculously terrible movie with a nonsensical, "The Giant Claw". Seriously, the similarities between this and The Giant Claw are frightening. It's almost as though this movie was The Giant Claw for the 2000's. The only difference I can think of is that they at least tried with the production values. I don't have much else to say about this movie, other than the fact that it's nothing but a putrid waste of time that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemies.

Mortal Kombat
½

It's honestly not as bad as it could have been, but I've seen movies that were much better than this. My biggest criticism of this movie is that it takes the Mortal Kombat video games and makes them look incredibly cheesy. The acting sub-par, and the characters, for the most part, look nothing like they did in the Mortal Kombat games. The story is also quite weak, but it's more of an average kind of plot. The writers awkwardly tried as best as they could to bring Mortal Kombat to the big screen, but they ended up throwing in a bunch of tired old clichés in a shoddy attempt to hide lousy writing. For a game about Mortal Kombat, it's not really loyal to its source material, but there are moments where the film does remind me of the games, and those are the few moments in the movie where they got it right. The fight scenes aren't bad, and a few of them, like the fight with Reptile, are worth watching, albeit, for some sort of guilty pleasure, but it's ruined by the film being loaded with sub-par special effects. It's alright if you aren't particularly demanding when it comes to action movies, but in my opinion, it's nothing special.

Red Lights
Red Lights(2012)

There are films that are all style and no substance, but this movie has no style, and very little substance. The film's nonsensical plot, which revolves around two scientists trying to discredit a famous psychic, moves at a plodding pace, and I swear the film seems to be sending mixed messages. Sometimes, the film presents psychic powers as real, while in other times it assumes the cliché sceptic's stance that Sigourney Weaver's character has. I can tell that the film-makers thought they were being clever, when in reality there are numerous gaps in the film's "logic". The characters are all poorly written, and it seems that for all but three of the film's characters, they weren't trying at all. Robert De Niro's performance is the only good thing about this movie, but it doesn't help much since he's the one being vilified in this movie. The so-called thrills are really shallow, since much of it is based on what I can tell are special effects. Nothing about this film is satisfying in any way, but worst of all, the ending made very little sense, and was simply pretentious.

The Conqueror Worm (Witchfinder General)
½

Though this film's account of the Witchfinder General is heavily fictionalized, that really doesn't matter, because I want to be entertained, and this film is entertaining enough that historical accuracy doesn't really matter. The films' interpretation of historical events is quite interesting, and the story itself is actually paced quite well, with no sign of any arbitrary length padding. However, I was disappointed by the film's ending. I was half-expecting a showdown between the film's heroic lead and the eponymous Witchfinder General, but the ending I saw ended the film on a rather sour note. The acting is really good, with Vincent Price delivering a deadly serious performance in his role as the infamous Witchfinder General. I don't know where all the other characters in the film fit in, but they're alright. The film can provide genuine horror, but my main criticism of that is that most of it comes from an overabundance of loud screaming. However, I can look past some of its flaws, mainly because an effective portrayal of underhanded, opportunistic man who exploited superstition to further his career, and Vincent Price's does so much to help this portrayal.

The Seventh Seal (Det Sjunde inseglet)

This is a very strange film, but the things that make it seem weird are its defining qualities. The film makes heavy use of religious symbolism, its existential examination of the nature of life, death, and faith during the time of the Black Death. Being as old as it is, this film is only in black and white, but this actually helps the dark atmosphere of the movie. It's worth noting that there's almost no music, further adding to the atmosphere of the film. This is a film that's all about symbolism and atmosphere, and from what I can tell, this reinforces the immersive nature of this film. For obvious reasons, this movie is considered a classic, and despite a few anachronisms, I think it's a good movie. It's not one of my favourite movies, but I would at least consider it a work of art from a learned director. If that's overdoing it, then I'd say it's a movie that's worth watching.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

This was a very strong end to what was already one of the greatest film trilogies ever made. I dare say that this is one of the greatest movies ever made, mainly because everything about the previous films was improved in this movie. For me, the plot and characters are better because of the film's sense of humour, and because of the performance of all the characters, including the dynamic duo that Indy and his dad make in this movie. The plot was engaging, and nearly perfect, and that helped me get immersed into the world created in this film. The set pieces and locations were all fantastic, and the music was great. The action sequences were well-choreographed, and it's always satisfying to see Indy fight his way through seemingly impossible circumstances. From beginning to end, this film is entertainment in its purest form, and that's why it's a classic movie in my eyes.

The Warrior and the Sorceress

If you were expecting anything exciting, you will most likely be disappointed. The story is basically Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo filtered through a cliché fantasy setting. I should point out that for a movie entitled "The Warrior and the Sorceress", there's no magic at all. Not even the eponymous sorceress uses any magic, which is baffling because she's a sorceress. Wouldn't you expect a sorceress to use magic? Anyway, there's no character I could like at all, and that's because they're all mediocre. The acting is terrible, mainly because the actors don't seem very enthusiastic about being in this movie at all. The film looks okay, but it's nothing like what the poster would have you believe. The setting is rather blatantly similar to Yojimbo, and they did a terrible job at hiding it. The fight scenes are okay, but they're not spectacular or entertaining. The best fight scene in the entire film is the final fight at the end of the film, and even that could have been better. This is clearly a case of a film that sounded good on paper, but when I actually saw it, I thought it could have been much better.

Ocean's Twelve

Because Ocean's Eleven made so much money, Hollywood apparently decided that there should be a sequel. It's too bad that they didn't do anything to improve over the first film in any way. If anything, they made it much worse. The film has so many bankable stars that it basically serves as a self-indulgent vehicle for everyone in it. The story itself doesn't exactly help, seeing as it moves at an unsatisfying slow pace purely for the sake of showcasing the film's overly slick sense of style. I also find the film's premise to be overly convoluted and ridiculous, since in this movie, the main characters have to steal money in order to pay it back to a mobster who wants them dead. Wouldn't a group of thieves steal money so they can keep it to themselves? By-and-large, Ocean's Twelve is basically an uninteresting rehash of the previous film, but without anything that made its predecessor remotely passable.

When the Wind Blows
½

This is probably one of the most unique movies of the 1980's, mainly because of its realistic reflection on one of the most prevalent fears of the 20th century. It should be worth noting that the film only features two speaking characters, and the story revolves around the perspective of those characters. As the story unfolds, the two main characters slowly turn from being optimistic, to being nearly pessimistic as they near their eventual deaths amidst the nuclear fallout. I actually like the way the story progresses, mainly because it never resorts to sitcom logic, and with the characters, there's no overacting whatsoever. The main characters, at times, can come across as a bit stupid, but then again, this is from the perspective of two people who firmly believe that everything will be fine in the end. Even better is the fact that the ending leaves what happens next to your imagination. Coupled with good music and genuinely charming animation, this makes for a rare gem of British cinema.

James and the Giant Peach
½

It's not a terrible movie, but there's plenty of things about the movie that just irk me so much that suspension of disbelief just wears off for me. While the insect characters are okay, the human characters are so one-dimensional that it ruins the whole atmosphere. I know I shouldn't expect subtle character writing from a 90's family movie, but good lord, there's not one character who doesn't virtually announce his or her personality. For anyone who isn't still a child, family movies tend to require heavy suspension of disbelief, but this film takes it very far, mainly because there's nothing about the plot that makes sense. I know this movie is supposed to be surreal, but if you couldn't stand James' two cackling aunts, then I doubt you'll be able to stand much else of the movie. On the plus side, the animation is actually quite good, and at least the film isn't long enough to be unbearable. However, if you're not a fan of musical numbers, this probably isn't the film for you.

Cocoon
Cocoon(1985)

Cocoon is one of those movies that sends a mixed message. Obviously the film-makers wanted you to sympathize with the old people longing for eternal youth, but on the other hand, I can't but think that it's a little cheesy. The film is basically one of those family-friendly sci-fi movies, and that means that things can get pretty corny, but I honestly like the acting, mainly because there's a genuine conveyance of emotions, even if in a rather sentimental fashion. I actually like this film's take on aliens, mainly because it's different to what we've been trained since childhood to expect, and I find the film's main premise to be a rather interesting concept. However, this film focuses way too much on the sentimental value of its premise, and the ending could only be described as the apogee of everything corny about the film.

If....
If....(1968)
½

It's overrated, but it's still a good and interesting movie to watch, but my main problem that the film-makers and the producers apparently decided to advertise the so-called revolution right away, as though that's what the film is about. In actuality, the film is basically a tour through the ostensibly horrible experience of the British boarding school of the 60's from the perspective of a free-wheeling young boy. In this regard, Malcolm McDowell's performance was fantastic, but the rest of the cast doesn't shine that well. I like that the film is divided into acts because it's presented very well, but for me, the pace is what kills it. I understand the need to depict things for what they really are, but so much of the film is spent focusing on build-up. If the film-makers really wanted to establish the protagonist as an anti-authoritarian character, I can guarantee that he'd be punching Whips throughout the whole film, but instead, it just seems though he does nothing about them until the last 20 minutes of the movie. Simply put it, my biggest criticism of the movie is that it deliberately holds off the anarchic violence a typical viewer would want to see, expecting said viewer to take cathartic pleasure upon seeing the final scene. I admit that the final scene was quite a spectacle, but I don't think it should have been held off until the end. To be fair, the film is isn't bad, and it's saved by its great sense of style, and the skill of Malcolm McDowell.

Ocean's Eleven

It's not a bad movie, and in fact, I think it's quite decent, but it's one of those movies that focus heavily on style rather than substance. The characters seem to do nothing but talk for over an hour, and the plot is so slowly paced that it feels pretty boring, with the overall presentation being the only thing that keeps this film going. To be completely honest, I haven't really seen a lot of heist movies, so I don't know how a heist movie is suppose to play out, but it's still pretty boring to me. The characters are alright, but they aren't always interesting. Really, the characters benefit from the occasionally humorous script. It's watchable, and it has some good moments, but it's not as good as it looks. At the very least it isn't any longer than two hours.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
½

Although it's definitely not as good as Raiders of the Lost Ark, it's still a great movie, mainly because it's so consistently entertaining. The story does take some artistic license when it comes to depictions of Indian culture, but I understand that it's supposed to be fiction, and it's still quite entertaining. For me, the biggest problem is how the leading female character develops. She always whines and is completely useless, and to top it all off she often tries to blame her problems on Indy. Thankfully, it's easy to get over her thanks to the impressive set pieces, the brilliant musical score, and energetic action. Some people may have considered it to be "too dark". If so, then evidently they don't have much of an open mind. If you want an exciting adventure film with all the hallmarks of a spectacle to which few movies can compare.

The Stepford Wives
½

It may seem confusing at first, but you keep watching it until the end, it'll all make sense. The story takes a rather leisurely pace, but it takes all the time it needs to showcase the living death that is life in Stepford. To put it bluntly, this is a movie that requires patience, and it doesn't make anything obvious to the viewer. In terms of the characters and script, this has got to be the most anti-sexist film I've ever seen. It's not so much a horror film as it is a scathing commentary on traditional gender roles. The eponymous wives of Stepford are clearly a metaphor for conformity and patriarchal domination. This is why you see most of the women in Stepford being depicted as dead-eyed, housework-obsessed doormats, because the Stepford community itself is basically the realization of a right-wing power fantasy. It's not as though the men fare any better in this movie, because most, if not all men in this movie are depicted as possessive and grotesquely chauvinistic. For me, this is a good movie because it's a rich deconstruction of the suburban dream and traditional gender roles, but the best part is that, even though the premise needs some more exposition, some of this exposition is left to your imagination.

Season of the Witch

Let me set the record straight: this is not a horror movie. It's nothing but a lousy, cliché-ridden medieval action movie with all the calling cards of lazy writing. The plot is so muddled and plagued by medieval fantasy clichés that it's not even tolerable, mainly because of the film's assertion that the Black Plague was caused by witches and demons. Fantasy is one thing, but it's another thing to distort history just for the sake of entertainment, and there's not a shred of entertainment either way. Then again, I can't expect anything good from a film starring Nicholas Cage, who in this film will quickly look like one of the worst actors of all time. The film doesn't have a lot of variety when it comes to colours. Most of the film is shades of either black or blue, and the section set during the Crusades seem hopelessly padded just to provide useless backstory for the film's terrible main characters. The fight scenes don't do a very good job at engaging you with the film, and by the end of the film, I think they just gave up, and so they just put in some random demon for the main characters to fight. Overall, it's just another Hollywood fantasy movie, but with no charm whatsoever, though it goes beyond that, and blossoms into one of the worst movies I've ever seen. There are only a few movies that could be worse.

Batman & Robin
½

Without a shred of doubt, I can say that this is the worst Batman movie ever made. Where the original Batman strayed as far away from the campy 60's TV series as possible, this movie brought all the camp back and made it even worse. The story is basically a mess of ridiculous plot devices and characters heavily armed with terrible puns. The script is so bad, it drags every character down with it, and it nearly wrecked Arnold Schwarzenegger's career. The movie has a lot of characters in it that aren't necessary, and in this regard, Batgirl was the worst. She ruins the whole movie simply by her being such an unnecessary addition to the cast, and on top of that, she doesn't even appear in costume until close to the end of the movie. The costume and set designers obviously went incredibly over-the-top in this movie, because the sets look even flashier than before, and the costumes are even more like cliché superhero costumes. Nothing is left to your imagination in this movie, and to top it all off, they made the fight scenes look and sound incredibly cartoonish, with cartoon sound effects placed seemingly at random. The only good thing I can say about this movie is that at least the ending ties up all the loose ends of the plot. Other than that, there's no redeeming qualities to be found. You could say this is why Superman works alone.

Immortals
Immortals(2011)

For me, this was a rather disappointing movie. I was expecting something good from the producers of 300, but I instead got a cliché fantasy action movie with a grievous misunderstanding of Greek mythology. The characters are all terribly bland, to the point that not even the voice of John Hurt can make things better. If there's two things that this film has too much of, it's the special effects and chiselled, shirtless men. Seriously, I can't see one character who looks like a realistic human being. The film doesn't really have a lot of colour, and a lot of times, the movie looks either gold or brown. The fight scenes are arguably the best part of the movie, but they seem really incredibly tame, mainly because there's almost no blood whatsoever. If you want a good fantasy action movie, there's plenty of them out there, and this movie isn't one of them.

Warning from Space
½

If I could describe it in one word, I would could it bizarre. It's weirder than the average sci-fi movie, but in a way, that's what makes it unique. As opposed to nearly every sci-fi movie of the time, where aliens were always hostile to humanity, the starfish-shaped aliens of this movie want to help humanity stop a rogue planet from colliding with Earth. It's not bad, but I find that there are serious issues with pacing. It takes quite a while to get to the point, which I think is quite surprising for a film that's 88 minutes long. Another surprise is the lack of eventful action scenes. It's not an action movie, but it certainly gets really boring, and the ending really isn't that great either. If you're a big fan of quirky sci-fi films from the 50's, you may want to check it out. Otherwise, I don't think it's worth your time.

Shaun of the Dead

I hate zombie fiction, mainly because anything to do with zombies is likely to be as devoid of creativity as the zombies are devoid of life. This movie, however, is not bad. It mixes horror with comedy in such a way that it's actually quite witty, though the acting often makes it hard for me to tell if the characters are being hilarious or dramatic. There's definitely a healthy dose of horror here, which makes plenty of sense because this is a zombie movie, but if there's one criticism I have it's that you know that at least somebody's going to die, and that there'll only be about two people left. I wonder why the writers couldn't invest some time in breaking some of the old zombie film clichés when there was plenty of room to do so. With fairness, it's actually quite funny, but the ending was kind of a dud. In my opinion, this movie is alright, but it has some flaws, and suffers from squandered potential.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

This is one of those movies that I'm pretty sure everyone really likes, but there's a damn good reason for it, and that's because Indiana Jones is simply cool. The story is basically one big adventure, and it certainly lives up to that expectation with such classic sights as a pit of snakes, a booby-trapped temple, and many more. The premise does seem a little ridiculous, but it doesn't bother me much, since it all comes together very well. Besides, this is a film that's all about action and adventure, and it knows how to deliver in both those areas. The set pieces are amazingly well-done, and they help to bring the adventure to life. Perhaps the action is more important than anything else. This is one the earliest films that frequently made use of explosions for effect. For me, the film manages to strike a fine balance between violence and entertainment, and the action is simply awesome.

The Giant Claw

I've seen a lot of bad movies, but for this movie, I'm dead serious. This is one of the worst movies ever made, and what's even more disappointing is the fact that it could have been good, but the film-makers scrimp on everything. The story makes absolutely no sense, with ridiculous explanations so nonsensical that it would make Ron Howard blush. Seriously, what makes sense about a giant bird that comes from an "antimatter galaxy"? The characters are all played by a bunch of no-name actors, almost as though they picked actors who'll work for any price. The acting is already bland enough, but did there need to be so much narration? Another big problem is that there's so much stock footage throughout the film. What kind of time constraint were they under when they made this movie? The biggest problem with this movie is the monumentally terrible special effects. The giant bird is basically a puppet on strings, and I swear that they repeat previously used shots of the giant bird. If you find this movie, don't watch it, and this time I can't stress this enough. It's a triumph of bad film-making, and that's what happens when film-makers cut corners with pretty much everything.

Monty Python's The Meaning of Life
½

Even though it's not as good as the two previous Monty Python films, but I feel it deserves its place among the greatest comedy films of all time. Unlike the other Python films, this film follows the sketch comedy format that was present in Monty Python's Flying Circus. If you watch the film on DVD, it'll start with a fairly amusing, 17-minute long "Crimson Permanent Assurance" sketch, which was kind of a mixed bag. The rest of the film, however, is actually really funny. The Python crew know how to use their comedic personalities and sheer wit to full effect, and it's done so well that it's as though you're watching a feature-length episode the Flying Circus on the big screen. The animation sequences are also a joy to watch, and the musical numbers add quite a surreal charm to it. My only criticism is that this film tends to rely on more gross-out gags, so it's not as clever as its predecessors, but some of these gags are actually really funny, so I think I can let it pass. After all, the whole thing is a surreal tour of life (or at least life it was in 1983).

Angels & Demons
½

This is one of those movies that doesn't so much require a suspension of disbelief, as it demands that it be hanged, drawn and quartered. The film seems to relish in its ludicrous premise as it parades paranoid Illuminati mythology as though it were a widely accepted fact. The characters are very flat, jaded, and often moronic just for the sake of prolonging the plot. In fact, the characters and the pacing are so bad that Tom Hanks' character often has to explain the story while running, and that's not the sign of a good actor. To be fair, the film does have pretty good production values, but those only serve to make you think it's a good movie, when you're really watching a miserable pile of ludicrous garbage. There are so many symbols arbitrarily used throughout the film, and Robert Langdon gets so many of them wrong that it makes me wonder how he even qualifies as an expert of religious symbols. Finally, even though I'm an atheist, I find the film's blatantly anti-religious bias to be utterly condescending and disrespectful. If I did a message from God, I think he'd tell me to warn others not to watch this awful movie.

Batman Forever
½

Apparently Warner Bros. didn't think that the dark style Batman Returns was profitable enough, so they made the next film very different. Some people liked it, while others dismissed it. It's definitely not as good as its predecessors, but I think it's still a good movie. In contrast to the dark tone of Tim Burton's Batman movies, this film carries a distinctly comical tone. For me, this works mainly because Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones make such a dynamic pair of villains with their cheesy, yet charismatic performances. The story is clearly more of a zany comic book, and while it's pretty entertaining, I can't help but think that, once again, it tends to focus on the villains. The special effects have been improved, but I think they went a little over-the-top. With the film's more mainstream-oriented approach, it's natural that there'd be more of an emphasis on action, and this film doesn't disappoint. The fight scenes are always entertaining to watch, and not even cheesy acting from minor characters can ruin it because it's always fun watching Batman beat up bad guys. Overall, this film is campy, and towards the end it starts imitating the 60's TV series, but it's still an entertaining movie, and I'd watch it again if I felt like it.

Empire of the Sun
½

Though I do appreciate the way film comes together, I can't keep myself from noticing the film's central problem. The biggest problem is that the narrative is kid-centric, which is a big problem when the kid in question happens to be a complete moron. Seriously, when everyone's running from Shanghai, he has no idea why everyone's running, even though almost everyone was talking about war between China and Japan. To me, he just gets more annoying as the film progresses, and in the second half of the film, he hasn't even aged. It's as though Steven Spielberg and Christian Bale were deliberately insulting my intelligence. To be fair, the film isn't all bad. It looks pretty good, and the music is pretty good too, but none of it matters when you have a have that spends its two-and-a-half hour length revelling in child-like idealism and naivety.

The China Syndrome
½

During the 70's and 80's, there was a big debate about nuclear power, and this film knew how to play with the hype, even with its obvious anti-nuclear bias. Instead of focusing on a typical mushroom cloud style disaster, they decided on an altogether more elaborate investigation story, focusing on the race to expose a nuclear safety cover-up. The acting is really good, and in my opinion, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas' performances are the highlight of the movie. At times, it can seem as though the film drag on for quite a while without anything interesting happening. Thankfully, there are quite a few moments that keep the plot flowing nicely, and the sounds of alarm add to the mood. Overall, though it doesn't have an impartial stance on nuclear power, it's still a good movie that I'd recommend watching.

Curse of the Demon

To be completely honest, it's actually pretty good, and I say this mainly because it's quite clever compared to other films of its kind, though the main problem is that you only see the demon twice, and it just seems to keep you waiting. Of course, I think it's because the poster made me think that the demon would appear more than twice. To be fair, the actual story is quite clever, but the pacing is a rather serious problem. Given that it was made in the 50's, you'll probably see this film in black and white, and sometimes, that makes things hard to see. I must admit, however, that the performances were quite enjoyable, and the characters were fairly interesting. Besides, even though you only see the demon twice, the parts where you do are awesome. While it is flawed, I'd still take a good look at it. After all, it wasn't completely bad.

AVP - Alien Vs. Predator

You'd think that a movie like Alien vs. Predator would be a good concept, but they just kept screwing it up. The characters are so flat, thin and unlikable that it's no wonder that they get killed off so quickly. The Predators are the best part about the movie by far, but even then, it's pretty bad because nothing about the plot makes sense. The story starts out with an exploration crew going to an island north of Antarctica (where nothing could survive), but then goes on about the Predators being the gods of an ancient civilization. My biggest complaint with this movie is that they neutered the violence just to get a lower age rating in American theatres, and in a movie starring the aliens from the Alien franchise, and the Predators from the Predator franchise, that's simply unacceptable.

Pink Floyd - The Wall

It's kind of a weird idea to turn an album into a feature film, especially when they don't feature all the songs (if you listen closely through the entire film, you'll notice that they skipped "Hey You"). As you'd expect, this is basically Pink Floyd's album "The Wall" as a feature film, complete with most of the tracks, though sometimes, they changed the order in which the songs are played. I can't help but think that changing order in which the songs are played kind of messed up the context of the story. There's little to no dialogue in the entire movie, and no, David Gilmour's singing voice doesn't count. On the one hand, this means there's no bad acting, but without any dialogue, there's almost nothing stringing the plot along besides the music and imagery. Ultimately, my biggest criticism of this movie is that you have to have listened to the album first in order to get it, and sometimes I still don't, and actually listened to the full album. It's not all bad. Gerald Scarfe's animation sequences are really good, providing inventive, rich imagery to the film. However, the only thing that would be better is if the entire film were animated. It's not that bad, but it seems rather inconsistent. In layman's terms, I'd stick to the album.

21 Jump Street

I'm actually surprised as to how atrociously awful this movie was. I'm aware that some people out there may actually like this movie, and I'm willing to accept that people have different tastes, but I have to be honest, because I hate this movie. Sitting through it is more painful than many of the other bad movies I've had the misfortune of sitting through. My biggest complaint with this movie is how blatantly stereotypical the plot and characters are. It's so bad that in one scene, Ice Cube actually announces some of the stereotypes, and it's not even clever. The jokes are so terrible that the writers actually resorted to making fun of the film itself, as though the characters are somehow aware that they're in a movie. In theory, it's supposed to be funny, but in reality, that's not the mark of a good comedy movie. The characters are all horrible to watch, if mainly because their personalities are all so formulaic. Also, Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have got to be the worst leading pair I've ever seen in and action/comedy film. Overall, this was a film where nothing is hidden. It's just a dumb, lazy, cliché-ridden curse of a movie, so formulaic it could have been ripped straight from the pocket guide of the laziest Hollywood hack. It's one of the worst films I've ever seen, mainly because I can't stand to watch this kind of movie.

Batman Returns
½

For me, this was just good as the first Batman film, maybe even a little better, and I say this because it expands on the vision Tim Burton laid out in the first film. The story is better in this film because there's less of a focus on a single character. Here, there's plenty of room for more of a broad storyline, where the stories of the three main characters converge into a cinematic finale. The performances are almost flawless, with Danny DeVito providing a great portrayal of Penguin that makes a huge leap from the 60's TV series. Michelle Pfeiffer also makes for a great Catwoman, and I find that there's a very interesting chemistry between Catwoman and Batman that adds to the level of intrigue in this film that's missing from other superhero films. The film's style is obviously darker than its predecessor, with a stylish marriage of brooding atmosphere and Tim Burton's visual style. As always, Batman is a joy to watch, and this time, the fight scenes are a little more gratuitous with the violence. Even if Batman makes a silly face, he still manages to make a convincing performance. With all the right ingredients, this is a great sequel to an already great movie.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
½

You'd think it'd be fairly simple to make a movie about the assassination of an outlaw in the Old West, let alone Jesse James, but apparently the film-makers were feeling rather self-indulgent when they made this movie. My single biggest complaint is that it's simply way too long. It's such a shame because this film had so much potential, and it looked pretty good, but the problem is that it was a chore to sit through. In fact, watching it was so much of a chore that it made the characters less enjoyable, and nearly ruined the drama. It could have been quite a good movie, but the film-makers ruined it by making it such a tedious, self-indulgent affair. Very rarely is there any real interest, and that's mainly due to the infrequent shoot-outs.

American Ninja
½

American Ninja is a movie that's just as goofy as it sounds. If you were expecting a kick-ass, all-action thrill ride, you'll immediately be disappointed by the film's pace. For a film about ninjas, it's not very fast-paced. The plot always shifts sporadically from ninja action to wishy-washy romance, never mind that the premise is pretty ridiculous and underdeveloped. The main character doesn't talk throughout much of the film, which is actually okay since he's not much of an actor. However, when he does start talking more often, he actually reveals himself to be quite a confident character. Meanwhile, the main female character (played by Judie Aronson) is the worst character in the entire film. She only cares about herself, is a complete airhead, and always seems to get the main character in trouble just because she's stupid. Weren't the writers worried that it would send the wrong message? Anyway, the film doesn't look that good, and the earlier fight scenes seem quite silly, but later on, the action scenes get better and better, almost as though they saved their energy towards the explosive scene at the end. Overall, it's not the worst movie I've ever seen, but I wouldn't expect too much from this movie. It's a mediocre action movie with a poorly implemented concept.

Rock And Rule

Some have compared this film to Heavy Metal, but it's not at all like it. For me, the main difference is that Heavy Metal was a masterpiece, but this movie was a miserable piece of crap. For starters, the story is completely stupid, as though the producers decided to only focus on the music aspect of what made Heavy Metal great, while completely slacking in other important areas. It's a little weird that all the characters look like mice, but that's not the worst part about them. The worst part is that they don't really have good voice actors, and often, their lines are very hackneyed. The animation isn't bad, and it's actually the best part of the movie, but it's definitely inferior to Heavy Metal, along with other animated movies, which had bigger budgets. The film just got worse and worse as it progresses, culminating in one of the worst endings I've ever seen, where a demon gets sent back to hell with the power of song, let alone a mediocre song with Debbie Harry on lead vocals. If you're looking for cult movies, stay away from Rock & Rule. It's an undercooked rip-off of Heavy Metal that was apparently so bad, even the distributors hated it.

Batman
Batman(1989)
½

After Adam West's campy 60's incarnation nearly ruined Batman's image, a change of style was sorely needed, and only Tim Burton could bring the darker style that befits Batman the most. The story provides context for Batman's actions without focusing too much on the origin story. The characters are all well-played, and it's always a pleasure to see Batman jumping in. However, I think that Michael Keaton's Batman tends to get overshadowed by Jack Nicholson's excellent performance as the Joker throughout the film, mainly because the Joker gets more attention in this film. The film's style was done just right, with well-done visuals, special effects, and that unforgettable theme tune. The action scenes don't overtly present a comic book style, but they're entertaining nonetheless, and they simply add to the spectacle, which is what action scenes are supposed to do in the first place. Overall, this is the Batman movie that so many others try to be, and it helped redefine the superhero movie as we knew it, along with reinventing Batman as both a character and a pop cultural icon.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If this was intended to be the start of a new series of films, then what a start it was. The film opens with a beautiful jungle scene, setting up the rest of the film so that it doesn't seem like the chimps came out of nowhere. The rest of the story is quite clever, and I think it has the potential to encourage the viewer to think of what might happen if a drug like the one in this movie were actually tested on chimps, even though the premise occasionally risks being somewhat unrealistic for the sake of heightened drama. The characters are played in such a manner that you know who's likeable and who isn't, but I find that the film has a less positive portrayal of the human characters than the apes. It may only be a slight difference, but it's something that I notice. Overall, it's a rare example of an intelligent sci-fi of our generation, and it's a good start to what I hope is a brave new take on the Planet of the Apes story. If it's not one of the best sci-fi movies this decade, then at least it's better than that awful Tim Burton remake.

Evilspeak
Evilspeak(1982)
½

I honestly find it hard to believe that this movie even exists, but I think I understand how this film could have been outrageous for some people. For me, it's just a slow horror movie that seems more like a test of your patience than a horror movie. The film itself looks very much like a low-budget horror, and if you look closely, the quality of the video footage seems to change often, almost as though certain scenes were shot with different cameras. None of the characters are really likeable, and though Clint Howard makes a convincing geek, his face often looks as though he was on drugs. Though the film is only 97 minutes long, it's incredibly slow, and most of the story seems like it was added just for the sake of length padding, but if you have the patience, you'll be rewarded with scenes that actually qualify as horror, and an ending that doesn't disappoint. It's still something of a daft horror movie, but I wouldn't dismiss it entirely, not when there's an army of demonic pigs to look forward to. If you're a fan of horror movies, I'd check it out. Otherwise, stay away from Evilspeak.

Get the Gringo
½

This seems like an ideal comeback for Mel Gibson, especially since his career hasn't been going too well since the 1990's. The plot is fairly simple, and though it has some weaker, more stereotypical moments, there's always something that keeps me interested. The characters are quite ably played, even in moments that seem dull, and most of the time, overacting isn't really a problem. However, I must admit that this is one of those films that focus on one character, which happens to be Mel Gibson's character. Also, the writing for the characters is the film's weak spot, having taken a backseat to stylized action. In this regard, however, the action is actually really good, unlike in films where they butcher it for the sake of getting a lower age rating. The film has a really good sense of style which complements the setting very nicely, and sometimes, it goes well with the film's relatively fast pace. Overall, it's not the best action film out there, but it's still pretty good.

The Beastmaster

Beastmaster is an odd case, in that it's one of those movies that's bad before it gets good, but even then, it's not as good as it could be. The plot and characters are fairly weak, and the names for some of these characters are ridiculous, as though their trying way too hard to follow the Conan the Barbarian formula. The production values also look a little cheap, but the special effects aren't bad. There are some areas about the plot that make no sense, even after your suspension of disbelief. For example, how are two ferrets able to use a tree to save the main character from a puddle of quicksand? Though the film has its flaws, this film is about action, and it certainly delivers in that area, culminating in a fiery explosion near the end of the film. Overall, it's silly at times, but it's so silly, that it's actually funny, and that alone makes up for some of the film's weaker areas. I'd watch it just for a laugh. After all, there's nothing wrong with a film that you can poke fun at.

Made in Dagenham
½

Who would think that a movie about gender equality could be as boring and trite as this film? For me, the first sign was that it was produced by BBC Films, who also produced the dreadful "Starter for 10". While the film does a decent job in its condemnation of 60's sexism, I can't shake the feeling that the film is stuck in the past, never mind the fact that the film's overall style isn't faithful to the 60's at all, save for some of the music. Also, a lot of the focus seems to be on the women on strike, but what bothers me is that the lead character, along with much of the cast, is completely fictional. I know it's difficult to actually represent the striking women, but when you devote a supposedly historical film to a character that didn't even exist in the film's setting, that's when it becomes nonsensical. Britain is full of drama films with historical settings, and for me, there's a good chance that most of them suck. Even though there's some strong drama, and a genuine attempt to break from the familiar archetypes of the 60's, there's no escaping the fact that it just felt bland.

The Wicker Man

For me, The Wicker Man isn't much of a horror movie, but it's a good film, and it's certainly more of a subtle, intelligent film than most of today's horror films. If the film is good at anything, its making you think about what's going on. If you're clever enough, you can piece together what's going on before the final scene. The characters are very well played, especially the main character, whose performance is engineered better than any of the other characters here. The story is actually really good, and it builds to one of the best endings I've seen in a while. The film's overall style is really good, and it compliments several aspects of the movie, such as the setting and the overall themes. If you haven't seen this movie yet, you should, because even if it doesn't chill or spook you, it's an elaborate film that draws you in.

Titanic
Titanic(1997)

Don't get me wrong, James Cameron is a talented director, but this movie is seriously overrated. It tries to recreate the tragic sinking of the Titanic, but rather than just doing that, it places a wildly nonsensical story on top of it for the sake of dragging it on for over three hours. Why on earth would anyone sit through a shoddily paced romantic mess for over three hours? Then again, why would I want to unless I were here to review it? The characters come across as total phonies, and while I can sense that there's an attempt at real drama, it all seems really shallow, especially towards the end of the end of the movie. The film looks okay, but I find that they seemed to have focused only on appearances. Of course, I am keeping the film's bloated $200 million budget in mind. Obviously I might come across as rather cynical, but that's how it is. I really didn't like this movie. I was bored by it, and I fail to see what kind of appeal it has if at all. It's just a shallow, overlong mess of a movie that I wouldn't sit through even if my life depended on it.

Catch Me If You Can

I didn't have very high expectations for this movie, but it's actually quite good. While it is a bit too long, and it does take some time to get to the point, but the characters have plenty of room to develop. The performances are quite good, even if I feel that Leonardo DiCaprio was an arbitrary choice for the lead role (seriously, it's as though he'll do any movie). The film seems to be good at presenting itself, if mainly due to how much of a treat the title sequence was, and if that's not enough, the film at least manages to keep the mood right. Overall, it's not great, but it's still good, and it's a rather professional film, even if you can't always be sure about the validity of its basis on a true story.

Blood on Satan's Claw

It's pretty good, but if you want surprises, you won't find a great deal of them. It may have chilled a few people back in the 70's, but by today's standards, it's very mild. The characters aren't bad, and the performances are done decently well, but it's not enough make up for a rather tame satanic horror piece. On the plus side, however, the direction was subtle, and the film's presentation was also pretty good. However, it can't quite make up for horror film that doesn't shock.

Heavy Traffic
½

Heavy Traffic broke the rules of conventional cinema, standing out as an artistic masterpiece of the 70's. The characters were brilliantly drawn-out, and the animation style really helps in creating a world of shady characters and surreal pictures. The story paints an amazing picture, with moments that serve as genuine twists, as opposed to the kind of plot twists you might expect. This is not the kind of film you could easily predict, and it's certainly not for the closed-minded. For me, this film is a real work of art, playing with all sorts of images to create some kind of collage representing inner-city life. I highly doubt that we'll ever see this kind of film ever again, simply because it's too original for today's producers to take a chance on. If you want a film that thinks outside the box, you need to see this movie.

Mars Attacks!
½

It may have had its ambitions, but much of the focus seems to have gone towards recreating that campy B-movie feel. The storytelling is at least competent, even if it's riddled with clichés, but much of the film's overall concept is wasted, and what you get is a by-the-numbers alien invasion flick. The characters are a waste of an otherwise talented cast, and Tim Burton's stylistic direction makes some of them look ridiculous. The special effects look very cartoonish, almost as though this should have been an animated film, which would have looked much better than a live-action movie with sub-par 3D animation effects. Even though it's sometimes passed off as a comedy, there's barely much that's funny about this film. It was both a commercial and an artistic failure, and I feel that it marked the beginning of a sharp decline in the quality of Tim Burton's movies.

Johnny English

I don't know how this movie got popular enough to warrant a sequel. It's one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen, and I certainly have doubt that this is one of the worst movies of all time. It's basically a spoof of the newer James Bond films, as opposed to Austin Powers, which lampooned the older James Bond films, and did that much better than this awful movie. The premise is absolutely ridiculous, to the point that it would have a better movie if it were Rowan Atkinson going on a drunken rampage. Sadly, that wouldn't accurately sum up this movie. The characters are just awful, and the acting is even worse. John Malkovich can do better than the stereotypically racist performance he gave as the film's villain. The film's overall style tries to copy the Bond films that featured Pierce Brosnan, but it does a shoddy job at that. Though there are a few decent jokes, the film's sense of humour is appallingly tame, and that fact makes me feel bad if any part of the film does turn out to be funny. Overall, it's just terrible in every sense of the word, and I feel bad that I used to watch it.

Red State
Red State(2011)

This movie seems to have no clue of whether it was a horror movie or an action movie. Either way, it's nothing more than anti-Christian propaganda in the guise of a horror movie. Seriously, the film's Christians are passed off as fundamentalist members of a sadistic, anti-gay cult whose leader supposedly makes even the toughest ultra-conservatives cringe. I guarantee you that this was written by a left-wing atheist, mainly because of how unrealistically evil the Christians here are depicted. It's as though the film's director, Kevin Smith, wants you to think that all Christians are raging fundamentalists like the Westboro Baptist Church, which is simply not true. In the end, it's not even worth it, because I can't sympathize with anyone. The acting is sub-par, to the point that the only good performance comes from John Goodman, and he's playing an ATF agent. The worst part about the movie is that there's a scene where Abin Cooper, the main antagonist, goes on a long, hate-filled sermon that makes the first half of the film nearly unbearable. If I paid to see the movie when it was new, then I would have been asking for my money back, because this film stinks out loud.

Demolition Man
½

If you haven't seen this movie, you're practically living under a rock. This is one of the best action movies of the 90's, mainly because it combines classic Stallone-style action with futuristic sci-fi concepts that the leading characters have fun tearing apart. There's a genuine effort behind trying to make a clever sci-fi piece, but there are sometimes a few gaps in logic (like the cryogenic freezing concept). If there's one thing the film does excel at, it's providing commentary on human nature, which is best represented through the sharp contrast between Stallone's old methods, and the sterile values of what is known as Santa Monica's police department. Of course, the story isn't really the most important thing here. The characters show some real personality, and the two main characters (played by Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes respectively) are awesome, especially when they're facing each other. The props and special effects look really good, and the action scenes are brought out incredibly well, leading to a fun thrill ride like very few others. Overall, it's a simple, yet clever sci-fi action film that delivers in every scene.

Dragnet
Dragnet(1987)
½

What happens when you try to translate a crime drama from the 50's into a comedy film from the 80's? If you must know, this movie is the answer, and it's quite mediocre. Believe it or not, I actually think that Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks make for a good pair in this film, if mainly because they can perform their roles competently, but I find Aykroyd's character to be too tightly wound for comfort. The film's plot is dry and unintelligent, resorting to one stereotype after another. The script doesn't even have a shred of subtlety, and this ruins what could otherwise be a decent movie. To be fair, the film has some good music, and there are occasionally funny moments, but the overall style seems fairly typical, and the humour is spoiled by how unbearable the first half of the film can be.

Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde
½

If you find this film in a TV guide, there's a good chance that you probably laughed at the very idea, but there's also a good chance that you might have wanted to see it as a result. That's what happened with me, but I quickly found that the original poster for the film was much better than the real thing. The film itself actually looks quite outdated. It was made in 1971, but it looks like something that could have been made a decade earlier. The story is quite ridiculous, and it's not as bold as it could have been. The writers also seem to have a fundamental lack of understanding of how hormones work. Then again, this is set in an era where science was still quite skewed by today's standards. The characters aren't exactly great, and the special effects have aged terribly. Overall, it's a very disappointing Hammer flick with more spills than thrills.

The Hunger Games

The world doesn't need more sappy young adult films that encourage naivety, especially not if those films are as painful to watch as The Hunger Games. The plot made absolutely no sense, mainly because it starts off with a dystopian vibe, but halfway through the film, it turns into a sappy love story. The characters were annoyingly stereotypical, so shallow that they could only appeal to an audience of undemanding teenagers (which I'm pretty sure is the film's target audience anyway). Sure, the film had plenty of massive, detailed set pieces, but all the special effects just seemed pointless. All the money spent of the special effects and the props could easily have gone to making a better movie. I think what's really sad is that so money people fell for this movie at all. For me, it was just so awful that it ranks among the worst films I've ever seen.

Sin City
Sin City(2005)
½

Sin City isn't for the faint-hearted. It can be unsettling for some, but its unique storytelling is more than worth it. Like the animated classic Heavy Metal, it's an anthology film, meaning that the story is divided into a number of vignettes. Throughout the story, the theme of corruption is the heart of it all, and the amount of detail put into the story is truly stunning. The darkly ambiguous characters help to paint a picture of a truly bleak world, where the morality one's actions is left to your imaginations. The film looks like a film noir with a distinct, graphical novel style, with only occasional use of colour. The special effects aren't always good, but then again, this is the kind of film that focuses on substance rather than glamour. Besides, even with its flaws, this is still a very dark, hard-hitting movie. I just hope the sequel is just as good.

Yojimbo
Yojimbo(1961)

Yojimbo is a fine example of a classic film with a far-reaching influence. Yes, it's in black and white, but I can't imagine how the film would look in colour. For me, this is the Japanese equivalent of a Western film, complete with some of the elements that would become associated with Sergio Leone's spaghetti western films. The characters have rich personality, which is brought by skill actors, and Akira Kurosawa's skilled direction. For me, this is a well-done film, with all the elements at the right place. The lead character in particular is worth mentioning as a quintessential anti-hero in a town ruled by feuding factions, none of which are particularly honourable. Also, this is one of those films where the violent action is still entertaining even without gushing streams of blood. If you haven't already seen it, I'd go ahead and see it as soon as possible.

The 300 Spartans
½

If you needed any proof that there can be no substitute for 300, then here it is, even though this was made some 45 years earlier. The biggest problem I have with this movie is that it's just like any other historical movie that was made at the time, and I can tell because I've seen plenty of those historical movies from the 50's and 60's. There's more of an emphasis on the story here, and though it does seem more historically accurate, it gets several details wrong, such as the assumption that Xerxes was an incompetent, power-mad tyrant. The characters tend to overact a lot in this movie, almost as though they tried too hard to achieve the success of other films like it. I will admit that the film's presentation is fairly decent, but it doesn't make a lasting impression. If you didn't see this movie when it came out, you didn't miss much. If you want to see a film about the 300 Spartans, watch 300, because it'll be infinitely more entertaining.

Kill Bill: Volume 2

While the first part of Quentin Tarantino's epic revenge thriller was violent and very energetic, this second part is more about exposition of the story and characters. Naturally, Volume 2 is longer and more slowly paced than its predecessor. While this can easily be seen as a problem, and I'll admit that the frequent flashbacks can be a bit of a nuisance, but it's certainly better than the end result being a four-hour epic, where half the film is mounds of dialogue with barely fight scenes. Besides, the characters are fleshed out very well, and I guess we owe that to all the exposition. The film shares its stylistic flair with its predecessor, and to great effect. As for the fight scenes, in this film, they seemed to go for an approach more reminiscent of old Western films, which also influenced the film's overall style. Overall, it's slower, but still a satisfying conclusion to an epic that truly deserved to be called an epic.

Play Misty for Me
½

When Clint Eastwood decided to direct a psychological thriller like Psycho for his directorial debut, it wasn't exactly a very wise move. As a psychological thriller, it's thoroughly incompetent, with no thrills at all. In this regard, much it is due to its plot, which is basically an unfocused, confused mess that seems to focus on only one damn song, and that song makes for a poor leitmotif. Admittedly, the acting isn't that bad, but the characters are unconvincing, and it tends to make me think that they should have re-written the plot. It may have been more of an effective thriller back in the 70's, but in my eyes, it's total garbage.

Boogie Nights

This is the kind of movie that keeps you interested in spite of its 2 1/2-hour length. The cast members play their parts brilliantly, to the point that they seem totally real. In fact, the characters here seem more real than in most other films I've seen, and that takes some damn good acting. The story is very well-engineered, with driving plot twists that keep the story going, and there's plenty of room for real character development. Of all the films that are set in the 1970's but were released after that decade, this film manages to recreate the 70's beyond the usual style and music. It recreates the distinct glamour of the 70's, but it also recreates the highs and lows, along with the carefree ethos and mentality of the people in it. They do just as good a job at establishing the right mood. The first half of the movie is presented with ecstatic highs, while the second half, which is set in the early 80's, is presented as the point where everything starts coming down. This, I feel, is what makes this movie a classic. Everything about it was done just right, and it was a rich, occasionally funny, and satisfying experience.

Rumble in the Bronx
½

Rumble in the Bronx is a quintessential Jackie Chan film in every sense of the word, mainly because it's one of those movies where acting and story aren't really important, which should ideally leave you with more room to enjoy the action. Of course, the plot isn't that original, and the acting leaves much to be desired, but the characters are still entertaining and colourful, even if some of the minor characters can sometimes come off as stereotypical. It's actually good that the film doesn't really have a serious tone, otherwise it would fail horrendously. This is meant to be a comedic action film, and at least it succeeds in the comedy department, even if it's not always by intention. However, Jackie Chan films are about action, and this is where the film really shines, because the fight scenes are so good, it makes up for all the film's flaws, including the low production values.

Kill Bill: Volume 1
½

Kill Bill stands out as one of the best examples of a revenge thriller, complete with copiously bloody violence. The film's style sets the tone very well, and I feel that the plot is better illustrated with the various different stylistic homages, perhaps because the film is built on what are clearly Quentin Tarantino's favourite cinematic traditions. The characters are fleshed out very well, and the performances are done so well that they seem almost real. The only real problem I have with this film is that it seems somewhat incomplete, which is perhaps inevitable with a film being billed as "Volume 1". However, all that is easily forgiveable because of how well it was made.

RoboCop
RoboCop(2014)

It looks like I was right to have no faith this movie. While the original RoboCop was a classic, this new version sucked the life right out of it, turning it into another typical Hollywood action movie. I get that this is a remake, but the plot isn't much like RoboCop at all. If you actually follow the plot, you'll notice that it actually plays out like a totally different movie. Many elements of the plot, like the opening scene in Tehran, seem to have been shoehorned into the film just to make it more contemporary. Also, the over-the-top violence is gone, and there's less action scenes entirely, with more focus on pointless dialogue. The characters themselves are okay, but it seems as though they couldn't think of anything other than stereotypes. As for the new RoboCop, he lacks the human touch that the original had. The new RoboCop looks and sounds even more artificial then the original RoboCop, and Joel Kinnaman is so bad an actor, that RoboCop's robotic dialogue actually suits him. I think they replaced the over-the-top violence with an arsenal of special effects, and here lies a series problem. They seemed to have focused on making it look good, rather than making a film with a real message, and if this film had a message, it just got lost in the plethora of fancy special effects. In summary, I knew Hollywood would ruin RoboCop, but the only thing that makes it better for me is that this is exactly what I expected Hollywood to turn RoboCop into.

Krull
Krull(1983)

It's not as bad as the critics will have you believe, but it definitely could be better. The film is essentially a weird fusion of sci-fi and medieval fantasy, which actually sounds like something I can be open-minded about. However, while the film looks pretty good, the story needed a lot more work. The characters aren't thought out very well, and some of the characters have names that sound as though the writers didn't care that much. Also, Lyssa comes across as a stereotypical damsel in distress who thinks that "love is eternal". Do we really need more of that? Finally, the special effects are actually not bad, but at the end of the film, they just seem so much worse, almost as though they ran out of money by that point. To be fair, it's not a horribly bad film, but it could have done with some improvement, and maybe it could have done a tiny little bit better with the special effects just for good measure.

The Towering Inferno

According to the theatrical release poster, "one tiny spark becomes a night of blazing suspense". In reality, this film needed much more than a tiny spark to maintain interest. To be fair, this is due to one simple complaint - it's way too long. Why does a disaster movie about a burning building need to last for two hours and forty-five minutes? It's not as though there's any positive advantage to this length. The plot tends to be rather hard to follow, but what's worse is that it seems to be all over the place, like in the scene where this one guy said he switched off the phones so that he could die in bed with the woman he's trying to flirt with. The performances are actually pretty good, but the film itself tends to try my patience with its excessive length. However, they at least did a good job with the production values, and the special effects make the film a lot better, especially with that fiery explosion at the end.

Fire and Ice
Fire and Ice(1983)
½

It's not one of Ralph Bakshi's best works, but as an animated fantasy feature, I'd say it's worth watching, if mainly because of the occasional moments that are weird and wonderful. The film itself follows in the footsteps of the more successful Schwarzenegger film known as "Conan the Barbarian", which made heroic fantasy very popular in the 1980's. Naturally, there isn't that much depth, which at a length of only 81 minutes is something you should probably expect in this film. The voice acting isn't bad, but isn't really great either. In fact, there are times when I think that Teegra's lines become unbelievable. However, if the film has one thing going for it, it's the overall art style. Although the animation isn't as polished as his previous works, Ralph Bakshi's collaboration with fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta pays off in a different way, with a nice art style that makes up for the film's shoddier areas.

Mean Streets
Mean Streets(1973)
½

Widely hailed as one of the greatest, most original films of American cinema, Mean Streets is a brilliant piece about a very personal experience. The story is very good, and I appreciate what the film-makers were doing, though the only flaw is that the film doesn't grab my attention enough. When it does grab my attention, however, it does that well. The characters are all brimming with real personality, almost as though the director actually saw those people and made a mental note of their personalities. The film is presented very well, even though much of this is done at the beginning of the film. For me, the drama comes from the story, which is told so well that it paints a real picture. This is probably why it's such a highly regarded film, and it's certainly a very entertaining piece. It may be fairly challenging for some viewers, but I think it's worth it.

Dungeons & Dragons

I'm not a fan of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, but it doesn't matter, because I know a bad movie when I see one, and this has got to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen. The plot is composed principally of old D&D clichés, and the story structure is sub-par. The characters are incredibly flat, and Marlon Wayans' character seems to be blatantly racist, though mainly because he acts just like any other character played by Marlon Wayans, which by itself is out of place in something like Dungeons & Dungeons. For something that cost $45 million to make, the special effects, costumes, and props all look really cheap and unappealing, which is extremely problematic in a film where the premise revolves around magic. The action scenes are choreographed in such a way that they just feel tacked on, especially when they try to use the film's bad special effects to spice things up. I wouldn't recommend this film even for the most hardened D&D fan. Stay away from this movie at all times.

Beowulf
Beowulf(2007)
½

Though it differs from the Beowulf poem in many ways, it's still an entertaining interpretation of the ancient tale, if mainly because of the lively cast of characters. Seriously, Ray Winstone's Beowulf is an incredibly loud hero. He wants you to know how proud and mighty he is, and to me, this is an example of the kind of fantasy hero we need. The entire film is made with computer models that are animated with motion capture techniques. While it is unique to see an animated film employ motion capture technology in this way, I find that the 3D animation doesn't really match up to some other films that came out before this film. However, the film's flaws can be forgiven, thanks to the film's pleasantly violent action scenes, and the ending was climactic and satisfying.

V for Vendetta
½

Sure, its message of anarchy is rather typical, and the producers seemed to have missed the point of the Guy Fawkes story (scratch that, they misinterpreted it), and it may have spawned a generation of masked cyber-vigilantes, but even if I might disagree with the film's overall philosophy, I think that, at its core, V for Vendetta is a clever and affecting action film that plays with its ideas very intricately. Having not read Alan Moore's V for Vendetta comic, I can't be entirely sure about whether or not it matches the source material, but it doesn't matter. The story is set up in such a way that you actually think about what's going on in the movie. The character V is played as an anti-hero in every possible sense of the word. He's clearly intelligent (even though he clearly misread the Guy Fawkes story), and he's capable of manipulating events in a manner he sees fit. While most of the confidently played cast is clear cut, V blurs the lines of right and wrong, leading to the film's most challenging moment, where V takes Evey to a fake prison to test her. The film's overall style is done very well, to the point that there's a bit of humour every now and then, which is great because this isn't the kind of film that would benefit from taking itself seriously 100% of the time. For me, the best part of the film was its brilliantly violent action scenes, which illustrate perfectly what the film is all about. Whatever you believe about anarchy, I think you should give this film a try, if only because the film is a big slice of anarchic fun.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
½

To put "Final Fantasy" in the title was perhaps the biggest mistake the producers made, considering that the film itself has absolutely nothing to do with Final Fantasy. In fact, it's just another CGI-laden Hollywood sci-fi movie that does little other than making you question why it was made. I will admit that the animation was ahead of its time, but it seems as though that was all they focused on. In trying to animate every last detail of every character, they forgot about perfecting the things that the film actually needed: good characters, an entertaining plot, and an actual link to the Final Fantasy games. The characters are basically clichéd for the sake of being clichéd, and even though they were designed and rendered very professionally, the performance of these characters are devoid of real emotion. The story, meanwhile, is a pathetic attempt at trying to follow the lead of Final Fantasy VII, complete with the similar concept of Gaia. The film seems to eschew the familiar Final Fantasy tropes purely for the sake of doing so, and what we get is a stereotypical sci-fi setting. At best, it could be an ancillary spin-off of the franchise. At worst, and perhaps more accurately, it's a stale, half-baked sci-fi movie with a nonsensical premise. The fact that the creator of Final Fantasy made this movie speaks volumes about how Final Fantasy franchise had already passed its prime.

The Thing
The Thing(1982)
½

This film is a fine example of horror done right. Much of the film's creepiest moments come from the brilliant execution of the film's central premise: an alien organism that tries to digest and imitate other organisms. Oddly enough, the characters really begin to shine once the climate of paranoia kicks in. The characters are played very well, with realistic reactions to a horrifying situation. The production values are great, with characteristically visceral special effects that add to the film's impact. I like that the film ends in an explosive fashion, with the thing and parts of the base going up in flames. It definitely makes for a better ending than the thing assimilating everyone. Overall, this was a movie that was incredibly enjoyable, and it stands out as one of the few genuinely good horror movies out there, especially in an age where horror is now conflated with gore.

Romancing the Stone

As an adventure film that pays respect to its matinee predecessors, it definitely succeeds. The plot itself is pretty straightforward, as the film plays with the adventure genre very well, but I feel that the opening scene of the film is definitely worth mentioning. In it, we are treated to a brief Western tale written by the film's main character. It kind of makes me think that it should have been in its own film, but then again, the film wouldn't be as good without that kind of set-up. The characters work quite well, and their performance really puts in the kind of personality that is missing from its many imitators. The film looks and sounds really good, with good production values and an enjoyable soundtrack, but the real icing on the cake is the action. It's not too over the top, but not too down to earth either, aiming to achieve something reminiscent of those old matinee films and succeeding.

The Gauntlet
The Gauntlet(1977)
½

The Gauntlet is one of those movies you'd be watching if you want to see Clint Eastwood being Clint Eastwood, and he knows exactly how to deliver in this movie. The plot doesn't really break much new ground, but it comes together nicely, leading to an entertaining conclusion. My favourite part of the movie is when the main characters are driving a bus, and the corrupt police officers punish that bus with a veritable hailstorm of gunfire. The characters are actually pretty good, even if it's mainly due to their performance rather than personality, though Clint Eastwood naturally steals the show. There's not that much action in this film, but the action scenes look realistic, and that adds a certain edge to the movie.

An Inspector Calls
½

Even though this film is quite dated (as of now, this film is sixty years old), there's something I think the viewer can learn from it, and that's something the viewer can only realize after watching the film. The story, though the film is only 80 minutes in length, is very clever, and it plays with various ideas from J.B. Priestley's original play, particularly focusing on a certain, supposedly supernatural element of the eponymous inspector's character. In the film, Alastair Sim seems to resemble a ghost, though that might just be because the film is shot in black and white. The characters are all cleverly written and brilliantly played. For me, the script perfectly illustrates the society that J.B. Priestley was trying to depict in his original play. For me, the fact that the film is in black and white doesn't actually bother me at all. In fact, it's actually better in black and white than it could be in colour, partly because it adds some depth to the film's atmosphere. Overall, it's a great film that can be interpreted in any way by the user, and I'd recommend this film to anyone looking for old-fashioned classics.

National Lampoon's Vacation

Even though it's stupid in the traditional American sense, it's actually better than the other National Lampoon films, if mainly because you don't have to feel bad about watching it. The characters are at least better, but the Griswalds are still basically a composite stereotype of suburban America, in a joke that has already gotten old. Besides, I know they're trying to play it for laughs, but there's so much of the film they don't intend to be funny, but I find myself just making fun of a lot of the plot twists. Speaking of the plot, it's not bad, but I find that they could have at least tried harder to make a plot that wasn't so dumb. There are quite a few ways the film can make me laugh, but many of those are on the second half of the film, and many of the jokes aren't that clever.

Backdraft
Backdraft(1991)
½

While it's often advertised as a drama film, it doesn't play out much like what I'd recognize as a drama film. It's presented like an action-thriller film, but it doesn't feel much like one either. Either way, it's actually a pretty good film, even if the plot does have some mild pacing problems, by which I mean it tends to take a while to get to the point. The characters are actually pretty good, and their performances are also quite good. Due it being a film where you need fire to appear often, the film is loaded with special effects, and I think the special effects team got a little trigger-happy with the explosions. While this might be a problem for some, the special effects actually look really good, as though they did a professional job with the special effects. There's a little bit of action, and there's a little bit of drama, but I find that, rather than doing both, they should have made Backdraft as one kind of film. The end result of that move would have had more depth, and would have benefited from more solid ideas. However, the film is still pretty good as it is, so I'm giving Ron Howard the benefit of the doubt.

GoldenEye
GoldenEye(1995)

After the typically stale Licence to Kill, it was clear that Bond needed much more than a change of actor. GoldenEye was the movie that tried to change Bond's outdated image and make something new. The end result is the first good Bond film since For Your Eyes Only, which says a lot about how quickly the Bond formula got tired. Somehow, GoldenEye also serves as a reflection on how outdated the old Bond formula had gotten, which certainly fits the film's more action-oriented direction which would inspire later films. I think that with this film, they finally did everything right, but in a new way. The characters are enjoyable, and sometimes, there's a bit of humour that can actually enjoyed without it detracting from the entire film. The story plays out well, and the action is explosive. However, my main problem with this film is that it still seems to fight its own modernization of the Bond series in much of the basic levels. The title still follows the same formula, and all the familiar Bond jingles are still there. Other than that, GoldenEye paved the way for a new way of approaching the Bond franchise. Unfortunately, this approach would also get tired, and ultimately become part of the mainstream.

Things to Do in Denver...When You're Dead
½

While it's not terribly bad, it's not as good as it could have been. Then again, I shouldn't expect much from what is basically a clone of Pulp Fiction. The film-makers did try and write a good story, but it's not interesting enough for me to follow well, and the stupid names of some of the characters don't exactly help. Some of the events don't really make sense, and when the opening doesn't make any sense, you've got some problems. The film has a decent sense of style, but it's not as though any other gangster film could accomplish this. This film is basically the result of trying to make a Quentin Tarantino film, but without any of the qualities that make a Tarantino film great.

Spirit - Stallion of the Cimarron

This is one movie that shouldn't have existed. It tries not to be an overbearing animal rights flick, but that's exactly what it is. The film seems to have a left wing bias in favour of Native Americans (even though they show the Native Americans also roping the horse over to their village), and I say this because they're the only people whose soft side the film is willing to show. In contrast, all the American settlers are depicted as cruel, one-dimensional characters who only care about enslaving that one horse. To be fair, the animation is pretty good, and at least DreamWorks didn't resort to Disney conventions like talking animals and comical sidekicks, but it doesn't mean anything as long as the film constantly tries to preach to you. Overall, it might be fine for kids, and anyone who enjoys seeing hearing Bryan Adams trying and failing to sound like Def Leppard, but for intelligent adults, it'll prove to be too politically correct and too preachy to enjoy at all. Perhaps the worst part is the blatant false advertising. On the poster, the film is advertised as "a motion picture experience for everyone". If what I said just now has any meaning, then that statement is completely wrong.

The Fisher King

This is a movie that you won't expect to be good, but if you watch it through to the end, it'll truly unfold into a really good movie that blurs the lines of anything you may have seen. The story and characters are easily the film's biggest strengths, mainly because of how seamlessly the film manages to incorporate Arthurian legend in a realistic setting. From what I've seen, this is accomplished by using legend as a metaphor, and by having the legend told by an insane homeless man who went catatonic during the scene of a mass murder. For me, Parry (the insane homeless man) is probably Robin Williams' only good role, and all the other characters come alive really well. The Fisher King has no shortage of substance, and I believe that what we get is a clever, genuinely well-written film that provides laughs, thought-provoking moments, and real emotion from the characters. I highly doubt that we'll see a film like this again anytime soon.

The Bourne Ultimatum

I don't think I'll have any strong opinions on the Bourne trilogy as a whole, but I can say for certain that this is the best film in the trilogy, simply because the plot finally makes sense. The characters still aren't that interesting, but they get much better by the end of the film, and the story isn't too bad anyway. While this is all well and good, the film's style is still pretty much a cliché of modern thriller films, though it doesn't seem to irk me as much. I don't like this movie per se, but I still think it's watchable, and a little better than the rest of the trilogy.

Payback
Payback(1999)
½

I don't think there's much to be excited about in this film, which I would recommend only for the most die-hard Mel Gibson fans. It's basically a bland action thriller that tends to skimp on the action scenes quite frequently. The plot itself has all the trappings of a cliché revenge thriller, complete with formulaic themes and bland characters. Mel Gibson is quite possibly the highlight of the movie, but I feel that he isn't trying very hard with this movie, which is bad if we're supposed to be taking his performance seriously. There's nothing much more I can say about it, but since it's not a very interesting film, I wouldn't talk much more about it anyway.

The Graduate
The Graduate(1967)

The Graduate is one of those movies that requires you to think about what's going on. I'll admit that I had some serious problems with the main character, because I thought that he had no idea what he was doing. Well, he doesn't, but then I realized that his character was really developing. When I got to the final scene of the film, everything made sense. This is a film that illustrates two main themes. Firstly, it illustrates how naïve young people can easily be led astray by false promises of idle, fleeting bliss. Secondly, it illustrates the younger generation inevitably rebelling against the older generation, which was a prevalent cultural spectre back in the late 60's. The music helps to set the mood very well, to the point that certain scenes don't even need music, because the mood had already been set. The characters are neither good, nor bad. For me, the film realizes its full potential because it don't sully itself with black and white writing, and for that reason, I feel that it's a thought-provoking film that deserves its place in history.

The Forbidden Kingdom

It's not as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it actually can be quite entertaining, but it fails to be more than a cliché martial arts film. If there's anything good about that, it's that the film is at least faithful to its target audience - people who are fans of martial arts films. In this respect, it's actually a watchable martial arts film, but the big problem is that the main protagonist is some loser from America who's obsessed with kung fu movies. Wouldn't it have been great if the film actually was set in Ancient China, and the protagonist was a martial arts warrior? To be fair, the plot isn't bad, but it tends to get distracted by contrived filler, mainly involving the main character. The action is actually pretty good, even with the special effects, but sometimes it can seem cheesy, especially towards the end.

Snakes on a Plane

To be fair, it's not exactly one of the best movies, but it's not exactly bad either. The odd thing about this is that it tries to pass itself off as a horror movie, but it plays out like an action movie, but it's very hard to take the film seriously. The film is actually pretty god-damned funny, mainly due to how implausible the whole thing is. If you're watching this movie, then the highlight of the film is Samuel L. Jackson's performance. With him around, this movie amounts to being so bad it's good, but then it's not a bad film. To keep things from getting too confusing, let's just say that it's a contemporary B-movie that you can enjoy, even if it's for the silliest reasons.

Barabbas
Barabbas(1961)
½

At first, it seems unlikely that they'd ever make a movie about the guy who was freed instead of Jesus. To be honest, I didn't think that was much you could do with the story of Barabbas. It turns out that the film-makers found a way, but unfortunately, the plot is occasionally hard to follow, and it can sometimes be a little heavy-handed when it comes to religion. Also, I find that the production values on this film are inferior to other epics of this nature. Those problems aside, it's actually a rather entertaining epic with interesting ideas, and an interesting conclusion, all of it bolstered by good performances. Even if it's not as good as other epics from the film's era, but it's still good to watch.

Mission: Impossible 2
½

This is a film that was clearly made by airheaded Hollywood producers who thought that they could just churn the same movie all the time as long as it made it a ton of money. Sadly, this movie made loads of money, which is sad because this movie was just so bland. The characters feel like they were written using an encyclopaedia of Hollywood clichés, and Tom Cruise just seems unwelcome this time. The plot is about as generic as it gets, with Tom Cruise's character having to stop a genetically modified virus from being used by terrorists. The whole thing was just a by-the-numbers action thriller that's loaded with CGI, and not even the CGI-laden action scenes help the film in any way.

The Fall of the Roman Empire

When this film came out 50 years ago, it was cursed by the audience's growing lack of interest in epic films. It may have been doomed in the box office, but it was a great film, and I feel it deserves to be mentioned alongside the various other great films. The characters are all played incredibly well, and their performance goes great with some interesting lines and amazing speeches. It might be impossible for me to judge whether or not the film is historically accurate (because I'm not a history buff), but the story is very engaging, which is helped by the stellar performance of the film's cast. The film looks great, with numerous amazing set pieces, costumes, and beautiful locations. The film's pace is slow, but it leads to a satisfying conclusion, and when the action happens, it flows very well. In summary, it's a classic movie that didn't get as much attention as it should have when it was new. If you haven't seen it, then I suggest that you go see it, if you can handle the film's three-hour length.

National Lampoon's European Vacation

It's definitely funnier than Animal House, and it's worth more than a few laughs, but it isn't really remarkable in any way, and it can't escape being just a guilty pleasure at best. Of course, I say this because of the characters. Many of the film's characters are stereotypical and flat out unenjoyable, and Chevy Chase's character is a massive jerk. For film called "National Lampoon's European Vacation", you don't get to see a lot of Europe. You only get to see England, France, Germany and Italy, in that order, and through the whole film, the funniest parts of the film are when the family visits France. Really, it's kind of a dumb comedy film, but it's worth it for the moments that actually are funny, even if you'll probably hate Chevy Chase throughout the entire film.

The Simpsons Movie

It seems as though they were trying to make an outlandish, over-the-top Simpsons movie solely for the sake of making it bigger than the actual show, but the end result winds up playing out exactly like a Disney movie. The story is completely screwed up, with events taking completely stupid turns, and all so the man of the house can be hero. In this way, I think that The Simpsons have truly devolved into just a stupid cartoon. The characters are all completely dumb, and they're personalities are even more hyper-exaggerated than in any other episode of the Simpsons I've ever seen. The film looks kind of pretty, but it's all so artificial, almost as though the film had no soul at all. Finally, the film's gags are all completely cheap, though there are a few funny bits. The film is loaded with political commentary, but it's all so obvious, and it's all the same nagging liberal crap we're all used to hearing. Overall, this movie is extremely overrated, and it perfectly expresses how low The Simpsons have sunk. However, I think what's really sad is that the creators of the show actually approved this film, proving without a doubt that they've sold out to the very cultural zeitgeist they set out to mock. To be fair, this movie may have been better if it didn't have the "Simpsons" brand.

The Goonies
The Goonies(1985)

The Goonies may be popular enough to get their own song courtesy of Cyndi Lauper, but popularity doesn't equal quality. When you really look at it, The Goonies is basically a noisy family adventure flick, but it's not without its quaint, 80's charm. The characters are actually quite good, but they seem to follow the usual stereotypes. For instance, Data is a stereotypical Asian gadget wizard, right down to his accent. The story allows plenty of room for energetic, matinee-style action, but there isn't a lot of new ground being broken, as if the whole film follows a safe formula. I suppose there is some humour to be found in the first part of the film, but that's mainly because I quickly noticed that the kids were swearing more than in most PG-rated films I've seen. Perhaps it's good that the Goonies all grew up and moved on, because there's barely anything that makes this film really unique and genuinely artistic. However, that doesn't mean that this film is completely hollow. It's still enjoyable for kids, and it's not bad as a guilty pleasure for adults.

Monty Python's Life of Brian

Life of Brian is an instantly memorable Python classic, but it's also much more than that. Back in the 70's, this was a very cutting-edge film that took sharp stabs at not just the church, but also what it was to zealously worship a poor man who was thought to be the messiah, except this guy is actually a very naughty boy. The film itself might seem silly to some people, but that's the point. Monty Python were very good at abstract gags, and in this film, the gags manage to be very consistent with the theme without resorting to religious slapstick. The characters are simply classic, and each scene in the film has its own great moments. It's not for everyone, but it doesn't have to be, because this was a great film, and it will continue to be great for decades to come.

Hanna
Hanna(2011)

To be completely fair, Hanna is actually quite a well-structured film, but it takes long for the plot to move along, which the film-makers seem to have found difficult without throwing in various fairytale symbolism, which I felt they put in just for the sake of being a different kind of action film. I felt they could have done better with Hanna's character, which I felt lacked any energy or soul. Then again, what more could I expect from Saoirse Ronan? To be fair, it's one of those films that seems bad before it gets even remotely good. The action, when it starts happening, is quite inventive compared to most other films. However, I find that the general characterization, along with the film's somewhat goofy premise, stifle the film's enjoyment factor to a significant degree, which is a shame because it's actually a competent action thriller.

National Lampoon's Animal House

I'm actually amazed that this movie is still popular in America, and retains even a tiny iota of popularity in other countries. This was the film that spawned all those god-awful college movie clichés that separate Hollywood from the real world. The lead characters are all a bunch of stereotypical frat boys who are motivated solely by partying, drinking, and loose sexual desires, all of which seem to be unashamedly endorsed by the film. Really, it's so bad that it actually makes me root for the Dean, which for someone like me is so sad that it's not even worth dignifying with an explanation. The story, and any hopes of good character development, all take a back seat to the outlandish, lowbrow antics of the frat boys whom the film revolves around, and all while we're expected to take all of it as a joke? I hardly find a bunch of frat boys ripping off girls' clothes and getting drunk off their asses is funny. While it's not completely terrible, there's barely anything enjoyable about this embarrassingly dated pioneer of gross-out movies, which would have been happily buried were it not for the amount of lazy American comedy writers who followed in its footsteps.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Many people were divided over the quality of the film. Wussy critics who thought the first film was too dark preferred this movie, while fans who thought otherwise dismissed the film. For me, this movie was just as good as its predecessor, mainly because it's so damned hilarious. Rather than trying to make a serious sequel, the film-makers thought it would be better to make a film that spoofed the first film, adopting a lighter, more cartoonish style. The overall style of the film is quite goofy compared to the first film, with tons and tons of gags, and with the violence being toned down to a slapstick level. While this sounds disappointing for anyone expecting more of the same, it's actually a very inventive sequel because it lampoons the ridiculous nature of sequels in general. If anything, it's better than the first film because of its hidden brilliance. It's not very subtle, but that's the point all along.

Wall Street
Wall Street(1987)

This film is just as great as I thought it would be. With its mature and astute look at the culture of corporate greed that was prevalent back in the 80's, this film takes you through the eponymous Wall Street in ways that subsequent films never could. The characters were simply a joy to watch, driven by excellent acting and great lines, and this helps the plot immensely because the plot is driven by the characters themselves. The film's sense of style is also worth mentioning, because the overall look and sound of the film ties it to the time it was made and adds a sense of atmosphere. For me, the drama of this film couldn't be possible without all the elements being in the right place at the right time, and there are moments where I genuinely feel like I'm seeing the events unfold. In conclusion, Wall Street is a great film with a great message, delivered in a more subtle and artistic fashion than anything else like.

Cidade de Deus (City of God)
½

It's refreshing to see a realistic crime drama without any of the Hollywood grit. It's also nice that they added subtitles to the film so that they could keep the authenticity of the film's setting, while allowing English-speaking audiences to understand the film. However, some things are clear without subtitles. The characters are raw, and thanks to the film's solid direction, it definitely feels like they're real people, which adds the film's already hard-hitting plot. The film provides a candid, violent look at life in the slums of Rio, and it never seems to fall short of shocking moments that are bound to keep you interested. In short, City of God is proof that not all great films come from Britain and America. If you look hard enough, you'll find a gem from far away.

The Truman Show
½

Like Network, this is a film whose message is repeatedly ignored. This film was a dire warning about a culture dominated by a desire for intimate details about ordinary lives, where reality TV, though crappy, is free to corrupt the arts and culture unchecked. Of course, this isn't the only reason why this was a great film. The acting is really good, though if you've seen the film more than a few times, some of the lines might seem a bit stupid. I think that this is a film that specializes in setting events in motion, and as the events take place, Truman's character begins to truly develop as he becomes more aware of his artificial environment. This was a groundbreaking movie, and it still holds up to this day. If you were to show this movie to an uneducated reality TV viewer, only then will he/she will truly understand the concept of reality TV, in all of its ugliness, and I mainly say this because it's movie.

Priest
Priest(2011)
½

The only thing I liked about Priest was the animated prologue. If only the whole film were animated, because the actual movie is dull, clichéd, and poorly made. Perhaps the first problem is how dark it is in certain scenes. There's barely any lighting in areas that need it the most. My second issue is with the stock, uninteresting characters. The eponymous Priest is actually very disappointing considering what this movie is capable of. I actually think that the film could have been more than what it is, but the writers weren't very inspired, and what we have is a stale, washed up action flick that can't go very far with its lofty concepts.

Big Trouble in Little China

Plenty of critics seem to hate this movie, probably because it wasn't made for them. Sure, there were moments where it seemed to be at least a little cheesy, but it was still a great movie, and it's exactly the kind of movie they don't make anymore. I'll admit that the film's weakest area is the characters, mainly because a lot of the characters don't get much attention. Thankfully, the performances are injected with enough charm and humour to make up for the flaws of the characters themselves. The story is simple, but it's one hell of a ride. What's even better is that it doesn't always take itself seriously, which leads to some unintentional hilarity. The film is loaded with special effects, but they look cool, and the film's overall style is complemented by the cool music that goes with it. Of course, this is an action movie, so this review should have been about the action, but there isn't much I can say about the action scenes, because they're just too awesome. Overall, like The Golden Child, it's an under-rated gem of the 80's, and a reminder of the kind of actually entertaining movies Hollywood has forgotten about.

Jarhead
Jarhead(2005)
½

Jarhead obviously tries to be a contemporary equivalent to Full Metal Jacket, which was undoubtedly a great film. While I do admire the performances, it's not as subtle as the masterpiece it tries to emulate, and seems to try and depict characters rather than real people, especially during that drunken party scene. To be fair, there is some real drama and personality, and it's still an enjoyable film, but I feel that the writers were trying too hard to follow the high standards set by previous war films.

Blades of Glory

Beyond any shred of doubt, this has to be the absolute worst movie I've ever seen. It tries hopelessly to establish itself as a parody of sports films, but it fails in every possible sense of the word, and what we get is a hollow film devoid of any humour whatsoever. All it does instead is waste its bloated $53 million budget on excessively glitzy costumes, which by themselves are among the most appalling things I've seen in any movie to date. The characters are just pure abominations on screen, and once again, Will Ferrell is simply irritating to the core. Will Ferrell's performance is just as unbearable as the obvious and poorly written cast of characters that make this film feel like you're listening to BBC Radio 1 for one straight hour. Of course, the film tries to play everything for laughs, but there's not a single thing funny about it. It might be somewhat enjoyable for boys who are just entering adolescence, but that's about it. Overhyped, overly glamorized, clichéd, unfunny, and unashamedly immature, this has got to be the worst movie I've ever seen.

Blade: Trinity

Though this last entry in the Blade film series tries its very best, it ultimately feels very tired, which ultimately leads to a jaded action flick that's as dumb as title. The characters are rather unenjoyable, and even Blade himself doesn't feel like a good character anymore. The story is actually so boring that it becomes hard to follow due to it being generally uninteresting and silly. The only thing about the film that's remotely good is the explosion scenes, but even they seem artificial. Overall, it's a tired, dull film that marinates in jaded clichés because the writers can't think of anything better.

RoboCop
RoboCop(1987)

Forget the new RoboCop. The original RoboCop was an instant classic, filled to the brim with original ideas, clever storytelling, and poignant stabs at the culture of corporate greed and excess that was alive and well in 1980's America. The characters were all very enjoyable, and the film itself is one of those films that proved that films with over-the-top violence can be intelligent and thoughtful as well, even though most of those films weren't. The special effects have a timeless quality, and this is shared by the film's overall style, not to mention the kick-ass action scenes, which make the film even more memorable and enjoyable. Overall, I don't have much faith in the new RoboCop, but I insist that you go and watch the original classic RoboCop. If you haven't seen it yet, you're living under a rock.

The Manchurian Candidate
½

When it was released, it was ahead of its time, with such predominant themes as thought control, political assassination, and multi-national conspiracy being relatively uncommon back in 1962. This film probably laid the foundations for pretty much all Cold War thrillers that came after it, and even though it's not as relevant in today's world, it doesn't matter, because the acting is very good. At first, I doubted Frank Sinatra's skill as an actor (because I usually don't trust musicians for acting), but he actually manages to deliver a convincing performance. Even though the film is in black and white, this somehow adds to the feel of the film. Overall, even though it's not usually my kind of film, I can see why it's recognized as iconic film.

The Fifth Element
½

Though this isn't one of Bruce Willis' finest moments, it's still a good movie with its own unique charm. Yes, I find that the film's take on "good and evil" is rather childish, and some of the characters can be rather corny (though to be fair, Ruby Rhod can be quite hilarious), but the acting is actually pretty good, and the plot can be forgiven because it the film doesn't always take it seriously. The visuals and music are really good, though I can't help but think that some of the costumes look completely ridiculous. In all fairness, this does tie the film to the time it was made in. In essence, this could only ever have been made in the zany 90's. Even with all the corniness that's sometimes displayed, the action scenes and the overall charm redeems the film, and it actually makes for an enjoyable sci-fi flick.

The Sting
The Sting(1973)
½

This is a very unique film with a classic, old-fashioned style that carries the whole film. The characters all have their own charm, and their performances are thoroughly enjoyable. The aforementioned old-fashioned style is elaborate, and is exhibited very well. The music is enjoyable, and the film's clever use of illustration. Even if you don't pay attention to the plot, you probably will notice the charmingly archaic style. Yes, I'm mainly praising the film because of its style, but who hasn't? The bottom line is that this was a great movie, and its style happens to be the biggest reason.

Looper
Looper(2012)
½

Think of Looper as like The Terminator, except if the Terminator was a human, and if the plot was decidedly more convoluted. In fairness, it's actually a good movie, and its premise is an interesting, if perplexing take on time travel. The performances are actually really good, and the action is well-choreographed, and this seems to make up for some of the less than savoury aspects of the film's plot. That, and Bruce Willis still manages to be amazing after all those years.

The Devil's Double
½

While the validity of the film's subject matter is debatable at best, that doesn't stop it from being an enjoyable film. The film is about a man who is driven by wealth, power, and lust, and needs a body double so he can be in two places at once. What I like about the film is how Dominic Cooper (the starring actor) can play two identical characters seamlessly, especially given that the two have overtly different personality. The main character, Latif, tries his hardest not to be too much like the person he's imitating, especially when you're dealing with the wild and sadistic son of Saddam Hussein. The film seems to be trying to juggle both drama and action at the same time. Some parts of the film feel more like an action movie, while others feel more like a gritty drama film. While certain stylistic inconsistencies might be a problem for some, they also don't appear to be incredibly noticeable. The Devil's Double is a flawed film, and it won't please everyone with its violence and shady characterizations, but I think it's still a good movie, and that's all that matters in this case.

There Will Be Blood
½

This film won many awards, and had a lot of hype surrounding it. For many critics, this is one of the best films of this century, and it's very easy for me to see why. The performances here are brilliant, especially the performance of Daniel-Day Lewis, who I swear sounds a bit like Sean Connery in this film. The film's plot provides a complex narrative, in which no character is really good or evil, and this works really well when it comes to characters that you can really love or hate. The film has a certain sense of style that just works very well in the context of its setting, and the drama is very well-delivered, especially when you get to the final scene of the film. Overall, it's a film that deserved its accolades, mainly because of how well it was thought out.

The Color of Money

I actually admire the film's style, and how it can be a genuinely entertaining film. The subject matter is rather interesting, if mainly because the writers know how to structure the plot in a way that allows for real character development. Speaking of characters, the acting is well-done, with professionally nuanced performances from pretty much every character. The film's style just seems to sink in very well, and the film-makers seem to know full well how to handle this film. Overall, it's a great film that really deserves more attention than it gets.

Red
Red(2010)
½

This is one of those action movies where most defining quality is that it's unashamedly improbable, but it's an enjoyable film because of it. It also manages to prove that the older generation can still raise hell in the way that's only possible in an action movie. The film has no shortage of wit and charm, as evidenced by the well-done performances of the cast. It is true that it can get ridiculous, but that's part of the fun, and that ultimately makes it stand out as a charming action flick.

Rambo III
Rambo III(1988)

Even I agree that this film isn't as good as its predecessors, but it's still a very enjoyable action film, mainly because of Stallone's performance, and the numerous explosive action scenes. The plot tries to grapple with the themes of the Soviet-Afghan war, but it isn't done quite as well as its predecessor. While that may be the case, the plot isn't nearly as important as the other aspects of the film. The characters are actually rather enjoyable, and Rambo himself delivers a few memorable lines. The film looks and sounds really good, but the obvious highlight of the film is its many action scenes. The action may seem mindless to some, but it delivers what you would want from this kind of film, and really, that's all that matters.

Three Men and a Baby (3 Men and a Baby)

It's actually surprising that they could make a comedy film starring Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and Steve Guttenberg (who were huge stars in the 80's), and that it would actually be good. To put it bluntly, this is the most 80's film I've ever seen so far, mainly due to its cast and the general way it presents itself. With all seriousness, the three main characters actually make for interesting and effective leads, while the other characters perform equally well. The humour comes from places you would least expect it, and I think they were actually aiming for a subtle sense of humour, and it works. The film's overall style is a product of the time it was made in. It was the highest grossing film of 1987, and it opens with an artsy mural made by one of the main characters. Overall, it's actually a really good film, and one that you may have to see in order to take it for what it is.

Beverly Hills Cop

This film is basically what happens when you get the cowboy cop to integrate with the buddy cop genre, while adding in the key element of Eddie Murphy's magnetic acting talent. The characters are thoroughly enjoyable, even the seemingly minor characters, though the humour sometimes isn't exactly noticeable. The main attraction of the film is its style. It carries the veneer of the 80's in almost every aspect, including its soundtrack. While it's certainly no classic, it deserves the recognition it gets, even if it's not as good as other 80's cop movies.

Rambo: First Blood Part II

Underappreciated by film critics, but loved by many viewers (including myself), this is a movie that defined the classic 80's action movie, the way it should be done. Yes, it lost touch with what made its predecessor a unique film in the first place, but it created a legacy of its own, with countless movies having been made based on this film's commercial success. At 94 minutes, the length of this film is relatively modest, yet we get an ultimately satisfying action movie. I will admit that the characters aren't as well done as the first movie, but that's because in this movie, Rambo himself is the only character who really matters, and Rambo delivers an excellently manly action performance. Remember the key word: action, because it's action that defines the film, rather than the story, but that doesn't stop the story from being any good. In fact, the story was great, because it allows for the over-the-top action scenes to fit in a realistic setting without the writers having to sacrifice creative liberties. The action scenes themselves are well performed and explosively entertaining, and they are an intrinsically important part of the American movie. Without them, it'd be just another film. I don't care what the critics have to say, because they ultimately missed the point. This was supposed to be a simple, fun action movie, and it delivers on every promise it makes. The real tragedy is that we can't get films like this anymore, not without them being shafted to the side by a culture that seems to have forsaken them and their values.

Pacific Rim
Pacific Rim(2013)
½

It seems that director Guillermo del Toro was trying to create something more than just another bloated CGI flick, but that's exactly what we got. The special effects are quite well done, but unfortunately, that's all the film's massive budget went towards. The plot is wafer thin, with a cast that bears all the hallmarks of a stereotypical Hollywood cast, complete with your average, short-haired, white American hero, and only one notable female character. The film is just over two hours long. It really didn't need to be that long. In fact, of the film's 126 minutes, only about 90 of them really matter to the plot, which means that were obviously padding the length so that it wouldn't seem lightweight. It seems that the plot and characters have taken a back seat to the crapload of ultimately pointless CGI, because some of the dialogue is rather corny, especially Idris Elba's "cancelling the apocalypse" line. Overall, it tried to emulate the kaiju films and mecha films of the old days, but it fails at capturing the spirit of both, and what we get out of it is a by-the-numbers Hollywood blockbuster.

Clear and Present Danger

Of all the Tom Clancy movies that have ever been released, this has to be the last great one. The film's all-star cast never fails to impress, with clear favourites being Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones. The production values are incredibly high, and the action scenes are explosive and plentiful, which more than make up for some of the more slowly paced moments. All in all, Clear and Present Danger is a really good film, and I recommend that you go see it at least once, along with The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games.

First Blood
First Blood(1982)
½

With a suitably gritty atmosphere and honest storytelling, this is a great film about a psychologically haunted Vietnam vet whose mind hasn't left the war yet. Perhaps the best parts about the movie are how real the movie felt, and how honest the character portrayals are. The story carries the theme of post-war trauma incredibly well, and Stallone's powerhouse performance as John Rambo is not to be missed, especially towards the end of the film. In general, First Blood hit all the right buttons, and it's a great way to start a great series of films.

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
½

Yes, it may seem lowbrow to some, and some of the jokes might come across as racist, but it's actually a genuinely funny stoner comedy that manages to play with the familiar stereotypes in order to subvert them. The acting isn't completely professional, but that's not the point. I will admit that the production values are rather unsavoury, and the film often features lousy special effects, but that doesn't appear to matter because it's actually very funny, at least for someone around my age. It's not for everyone, but for me, it's a really funny film that hits the right notes.

Harry Brown
Harry Brown(2010)
½

Even though this film isn't exactly my style, it still manages to be a strong thriller by genuine merits. The performances are really hard-hitting, and there's a sense of realism attached to the characters and the general setting of the film. Speaking of the setting, the film-makers seemed to have every idea of how to capture the mood of the very bleak setting that is Harry Brown's life, his quest for vengeance, and the general state of an estate gripped by fear. There isn't a great deal of violent action scenes, but when there is violence, I can assure you that it's very graphic and lurid, but that just adds to the film's stylistic integrity. Overall, it's not for everyone, but it's still a genuinely good film.

Seven Samurai (Shichinin no Samurai)
½

This film must have been very edgy when it was made 60 years ago, and to an extent, it still has a certain kind of edge to this day, mainly due to Kurosawa's film-making techniques and skill as a director. Personally, I feel that the film is much better in black and white than in colour, because the imagery and atmosphere are more powerful without colour. Yes, it is over three hours long, but it's well worth it for one the most influential Japanese films of the 20th century.

Ray
Ray(2004)

Ray is an interesting film about an interesting character. Even when Hollywood embellishes the details, the film still manages to capture the life of the beloved soul singer (though they I think they shouldn't have condensed it as much). Obviously the highlight of the film is the performance of Jamie Foxx, who literally triumphs in the starring role with a genuinely convincing performance. All the other characters are very good too, though they sometimes fade into the background when compared to Jamie Foxx's character. Even though the music isn't necessarily my style, it's actually a very inviting blend of soul music (all of which come from the late Ray Charles himself). All the aforementioned elements go together nicely to create an engaging biopic.

The Big Lebowski

Contrary to popular belief, this is not strictly a film about bowling. However, if there's one thing I can say for sure, it's that it's a unique film, and it showcases just what the Coen Brothers are great at. The characters are all very unique and have their own appeal, especially John Goodman's character. The plot is very interesting, with no shortage of clever twists, and plenty of moments that really flesh out the characters. The Coen Brothers are clever film-makers, and you really have to see their movies in order to appreciate their art. I feel that this movie, while it's no classic, it incredibly entertaining.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

So many films have been made based on the legend of Robin Hood, and this one has got to be one of the worst. The film sports an all-star cast, but it just seems to backfire due to Kevin Costner's blatantly unconvincing performance. Also, this is one of those films that got stretched out way too long for a premise this simple. It would have been more tolerable if it were just two hours long, as opposed to it being two and a half hours long. If there's only one positive side to this film, it's that they picked some damn good locations for filming. But regardless, this is a movie that's so bad that the only thing that would make it worse is if Bryan Adams was cast as Robin Hood.

Holes
Holes(2003)
½

Anyone who's read the book will surely appreciate the value of the film, mainly due to it being faithful the novel (even though sometimes I'm not exactly sure of that). The acting is actually quite good, and it stands out as the only film where Shia LaBeouf is any good. The story is actually pretty good, but I can't help but think that the film tends to focus on the flashbacks more than what's really going on in the present. However, it's worth it when you start to realize that the events of the flashbacks are all connected to the story, and it leads up to a genuinely surprising ending.

Dracula 2000
Dracula 2000(2000)

It doesn't start out as a very bad movie, but as it progresses towards its final act, the plot becomes increasingly less enjoyable. Of course, this is what happens when you try and redo the same old Dracula tale for the year 2000, while adding unnecessary symbolic connections with the death of Jesus. The actors themselves aren't bad, their acting is could have used some practice. Also, I find it hard to believe that it's a horror movie when it's structured more like an action movie, kind of like what the movie Blade would be like if it didn't have much action scenes at all. The fact that this movie got a cult following is actually bizarre, though in all fairness, the film-makers were at least trying to make a good movie. Of course, there's trying, and then there's falling flat on your ass.

Heavy Metal
Heavy Metal(1981)

I should say, right now, that this movie was made for men. But the greatness of Heavy Metal doesn't come from its copious violence/nudity/sexuality. Rather, it comes from the genuinely original set of storylines, and the way they are set up. Also, the movie scores points for the unique animation, and brilliant soundtrack. This is easily one of my favourite films of all time, and I find it to be rather influential.

Drive
Drive(2011)
½

Without a doubt, this is one of the best films of this decade so far. It's an edgy and genuinely stylish action thriller that doesn't skip on the nasty. The film sports an excellent choice of actors and actresses who fit in their roles as well as a new pair of shoes. I feel that this is the film that defines Ryan Gosling as an actor, mainly because of his powerful and effective performance as a main character. The film's overall style seems to hark back to the 80's, as evidenced by the film's synthpop soundtrack. The film also sports a different kind of style, by which I'm referring to the stylized violence. Overall, it's powerful, violent, and well-made, and I would recommend this movie to anyone looking for a different kind of thriller.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

Even though they really didn't need to split this film into two parts, this second half of the overlong Harry Potter finale is worth it simply because it means finally putting the massively hyped film franchise to rest. I like the fact that the film is taking a less bleak tone, which fits because of the implied positive outcome. However, the writers seemed to have ruthlessly complicated the plot more than necessary, and they seem to have written it in such a fashion that we get an obligatory, Disney-esque happy ending just to give the fans one last hoorah. If there's one thing to be praised, however, it's the special effects, and the fact that they at least set up a climactic final battle between Harry and Voldemort. Overall, while it has its flaws, it still manages to wrap up the saga as effectively as possible, having tied up all the loose ends.

Big
Big(1988)
½

Though it might come across as idealistic at times, it nonetheless succeeds as a genuinely entertaining family movie. Yes, the ending is very much an obligatory happy ending, and the plot itself might be too outlandish for some of the more cynical viewers, but it works, and it allows for some mildly entertaining moments from the characters. Speaking of the characters, I like how the main character develops through the story, in that he realizes that he's not ready to be an adult quite yet. The other characters are fine too, though Big is probably the only movie I've seen where Tom Hanks is actually a good choice for the lead. Overall, it's pretty good as a family film, and probably one of the last good family movies that Hollywood has ever made.

Casablanca
Casablanca(1942)
½

It's easy to see how this movie won the critical acclaim that it got. The performances are very good, along with the memorable quotes that would be regurgitated through history. The plot works really well, to the point that it truly is a film of its time, and it builds up to a classic ending. The film has very good production values for its time, and boasts a lot of stylistic flair. This, I feel, separates it from all romantic dramas that would come after it. Overall, it goes beyond what the producers had intended it to be, and it stands out as one of the early 20th century's most ambitious films.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

It's not as bad as I thought it would be, but it's not as good as it hopes to be. In all fairness, it's actually a pretty clever film with an enjoyable sense of humour, but my main problem is that it too closely resembles an outlandish Tim Burton film. Also, I find that its potential is very limited by the fact that it tries to be a family film, when it's capable of so much more. However, the performances are actually not bad, and it especially showcases what Jim Carrey is capable of as an actor. Seriously, when I was a kid, I couldn't even tell that Jim Carrey was even in the film, but now that I'm older, I notice that Count Olaf's mannerisms in this film are very much typical of Jim Carrey's repertoire. Overall, it had a lot of potential, but that potential was pretty much wasted as soon as they wanted it to be a family film. Now if only it were darker...

The Princess Bride

Honestly, I had fairly low expectations of this film, but it's actually really good. Yes, it might have something of a typical fairy tale setting, but it takes that setting rather lightly, to the point that it effectively satirizes the traditional fairy tale. The acting sounds clichéd at first, but when the dialogue starts to go in a more humorous direction, and when the fourth wall keeps occasionally breaking, the characters end up showing more personality, and I think this makes for a more enjoyable film. The film looks and sounds great, with its own unique charm proving that you really shouldn't judge a film by its façade.

The Wolverine
½

Think of this film as what "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" would be like if it were actually good. I like the direction that this film is going, especially since it doesn't resort to outright stereotypes, though I can't but feel that they could have picked a better villain than Viper (who I had no idea even existed). The acting isn't bad, though I feel that Wolverine is the only character that really stands out, which admittedly makes sense due to the movie sharing its name with the main character. The most outstanding quality of the film is the stylishly violent action scenes, which bring The Wolverine's violent personality to life. However, because this is Hollywood, they aren't violent enough. I can't help but think that this is the kind of movie that would actually benefit from gory violence.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
½

At this point, there's only one way Harry Potter go, and he's going downhill. The film obviously follows on from the darker direction of The Half-Blood Prince, but the film just looks so bleak that it verges on being completely lifeless, and the overly dramatic characters don't necessarily help. Of course, my big problem with the film is that they've split it into two parts just to extend the life of the highly profitable Harry Potter film series. In doing this, they've inevitably made this film more pointless, especially since it's structured just like any other Harry Potter film. Say what you will, I just think that this film just felt like a long wait, but at least it's not as bad as The Order of the Phoenix.

Django Unchained
½

It seems that Quentin Tarantino has created a modern masterpiece, which is sadly a rarity in the world of today. The acting was great, and the personalities of the characters really develop in this film. Yes, if you watch this movie, you will hear the "n" word a lot, but I can assure you that this entirely in a historical context, which actually does wonders for the film's unique plot. The plot shows the kind of Western hero that is seldom seen on the silver screen, and the main character of this movie is very striking, especially thanks to Jamie Foxx's performance. The film's style tries to hark back to the grand old Westerns of Hollywood legend, and it largely succeeds in this effort. However, it's ruined because of the film's occasional use of rap music, which I find to be completely ludicrous because it doesn't fit the setting (and I think they just put a few rap tracks in just to sound fashionable). Luckily, rap music doesn't show up very often, and the film sports enough attention to detail to make up for it, especially during the gloriously violent action scenes. Overall, it's a great film, and I think that the film-makers of today can learn from this movie.

Gremlins
Gremlins(1984)

This review is special for me in two ways. First of all, it's a movie review on Christmas Day. Second, it has the honour of being the 600th movie that I've ever reviewed. It's got its own unique charm to it, and it holds the entire film together. The film has a variety of fun moments involving the well-acted characters, and the eponymous gremlins, which steal the show so well that that the film is exactly as the title would imply. It sets itself up as a Christmas movie, while quickly stripping away the traditionally saccharine vibes of what you'd expect from a Christmas movie. The film is loaded with special effects, but it pays off so well because the gremlins look incredibly well-made. Also, the humour is really good, with well-timed moments of subtle humour that just adds to the twisted nature of the film. Overall, it's a very good film that bucked the trends of most other movies of its time, and the end result is a genuinely adventurous film that goes the extra mile.

It's a Wonderful Life
½

Though it does seem to have a few pacing problems, it nonetheless earns its place as a cherished holiday film for the whole family. The acting is superb, and the characters are so full of life that it makes the film very engaging. The plot, though sometimes unfocused, hits all then right notes, and it makes for a very interesting course of events, which all lead to a wonderful ending. Though billed as a "comedy-drama", I can find only limited humour, but I find an abundance of powerful drama, which holds the whole film together, especially when the main character has lost his way. Overall, it's a great movie for the holidays, and it's a great movie for the ages.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
½

It may not be as memorable as its predecessors, but I find that it's still a genuinely enjoyable film. Mel Gibson's fine performance - and the short-lived novelty of Tina Turner - seems to make up for a relatively weak concept. Yes, I felt that the plot is somewhat weak (at least in comparison to the first two Mad Max films), especially when the film started to shift its focus to the tribe of children. However, the film has two strong points: its visuals, and the enjoyable action scenes, which do their best to remind you that this is a Mad Max film. Overall, it is the weakest of what is so far the Mad Max Trilogy, but it's still an enjoyable movie by its own merits.

Quadrophenia
Quadrophenia(1979)
½

You'd think it'd be impossible to make a great movie based off a rock album, but you'd be wrong, especially if this film actually uses music from the rock opera that inspired it. The film itself is quintessentially British, right down to the plot, the characters, and the setting. The acting is impressive, and the drama is powerfully delivered through its unique characters, and the general mood and atmosphere of the film itself. Through the plot, the film also does a damn good job at capturing what it was like in the era of "mods and rockers", while also taking you through the life of an angst-ridden 60's teenager, and carrying its theme of disillusionment through to the end. The film-makers obviously have excellent taste in music, because the soundtrack is actually great, featuring music from The Who and other artists, and the song used in the ending - "Love Reign O'er Me" - works so well on so many levels. Overall, it's a great movie that you really need to see in order to appreciate.

Innerspace
Innerspace(1987)

This movie is basically a Fantastic Voyage for the 80's, but it's also one of those movies where all the elements are all over the place, and nothing really fits together quite right. The plot is entertainingly zany, but I think it's rather hard to follow at the beginning, though eventually, everything starts making sense. The characters aren't too bad, but at the same time, I don't really care for them. The overall style, on the other hand, though rather typical of the 80's, is actually somewhat enjoyable. Though the film may be somewhat lacking in humour, some of the zanier scenes make up for it, especially when the plot starts getting more far out.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3
½

It's not really good, but it's not terribly bad either. It has decent acting, and some good action scenes towards the end. However, I have two main problems with the film. The first problem is its apparent lack of creativity. It basically amounts to being another generic action thriller without any genuine thrills to hold you over. The second problem is its over-reliance on special effects. You really don't need special effects to make a good movie, and they seem to make this movie look even more artificial. Overall, it could have been good, but it got lost in trying to be what it's not.

Zoolander
Zoolander(2001)
½

Zoolander does try to be very funny, and some of the humour is actually genuine, but it's just too dumb and campy for my taste. Seriously, a lot of the characters act in such an exaggerated manner, that it makes the Batman TV series look subtle. Many of the costumes and special effects are incredibly camp, to the point that it actually gets rather annoying, and the self-absorbed personalities of the main cast don't seem to help. I'm aware that this is a comedy, and that this is supposed to lampoon the fashion industry, and the egos of various models, but half the time, it just fails like most dumb Hollywood comedies with Will Ferrell. Overall, it's a mediocre comedy that squanders its potential, and it seems as though the film-makers were more interested in cramming in as many stars as possible.

Cleopatra
Cleopatra(1963)

It may be four hours long (making it the longest movie I've ever seen), but this is one of those films where the length was actually worth it. Say what you will, but the acting is actually very impressive, with great dialogue. The story is told quite well for a film with lumbering pace, and I'm surprised at how the length isn't making the film painful to watch. The film looks incredibly opulent, which is rather befitting of the setting, and the set pieces and costumes look great thanks to film's high production values. Overall, while it is an incredibly slow film, it's an ambitious piece of film-making from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Tron Legacy
Tron Legacy(2010)

Honestly, this was not as bad as I thought it would be, but it still has plenty of flaws. First of all, I didn't think that Tron really needed a sequel, especially given the relatively hollow plot and two-dimensional characters. Second, the film tries to capture the feel of its 80's predecessor, but it seems rather shallow, given the overly sleek visuals and overblown special effects, and third, it just doesn't seem right. However, the acting more than makes up for the hollow personalities of the cast, and I admit that the visuals do look pretty good, and that the style is executed well enough that it makes the setting look like a massively futuristic video game. Overall, it's not bad, but it will never be as good as the original Tron.

Pirate Radio (The Boat That Rocked)
½

I don't know why they felt the need to make this movie, especially if it's about a subject that nobody cares about. This awful movie is basically a comedy without any laughs, with an all-star cast that clearly isn't enthusiastic about it. In keeping with its style and settings, the film uses a lot of classic rock tracks from the 60's, but I can't help but think that this is just a way to hide how bad the movie really is. The characters are basically forgettable, and they fail to carry the movie forward, especially with a one-sided premise such as this.

Red Heat
Red Heat(1988)

It might not be one of Schwarzenegger's best movies, and it's certainly not the best concept for a buddy cop film, but I feel that there's still some good in this film. My immediate criticism is that Schwarzenegger's acting is not as good when he tries playing a Russian character (it's not just when he speaks Russian; in fact, it's mainly an English-speaking Russian accent that he speaks in through the whole film). Also, the rest of the cast, for me, tends to fade into the background, mainly because they aren't very interesting. Aside from that, it's an okay action film. In fact, it's the film's violent action scenes that save it from being complete garbage.

Mission: Impossible

While this movie was certainly popular, I can't help but think it doesn't deserve the success it got. I think this is the point where Tom Cruise began to be typecast in gritty action roles. Fortunately, this isn't a gritty kind of film, but it sets an unsettling trend for Tom Cruise's career (though to be fair, he still isn't a bad actor). The film's style is a rather futile attempt to recapture the essence of the 60's TV series it was trying to resurrect in movie form, since it completely disregards the style of the TV show in favour of making yet another 90's action thriller. The characters and dialogue are not bad, but the plot can be a bit too convoluted at times, especially since the plot takes a bit of a back seat to the evidently bloated special effects budget.

The Medallion

Not only is this a bad movie, but it's also got to be one of the worst Jackie Chan movies I've ever seen. The story sounds almost like it's a complete clone of The Golden Child, only without any appeal whatsoever. The characters are basically uninteresting, with completely clichéd dialogue. By the way, does Lee Evans honestly think he can act? He's the worst part about this movie, worse even than the special effects (which aren't very outstanding). The action is pretty decent, but that doesn't appear to make up for much. Overall, this movie must have been very easy to make, because it's so obviously crappy that it only survives on Jackie Chan's popularity.

The Last of the Mohicans

The critics obviously have a high opinion of this movie, but that doesn't make it completely good. I am impressed that the film-makers tried their best to make an appealing piece, but I just didn't feel for it. Yes, the acting was really good, but I don't find the characters very appealing, though Daniel-Day Lewis' character is played quite well. The film also looks really good, but the drama doesn't really suck me in. Overall, I can see why critics would like it, but I don't have the kind of pretension that they do, and I think it's a pretty overrated movie, with a setting I don't really care about.

Indie Game: The Movie
½

As a boy who wants to get into game development, I'd naturally find this movie to be very interesting, and I was right. By taking me through the perspective of indie game developers, and the storied history of the development of such indie titles as Super Meat Boy, Fez, and Braid, I think this film has convinced me that the indie developer path is not only completely valid, but it's also the right path. I'm also very convinced by the personalities, especially the story of Edmund McMillan, who I find to be oddly relatable. The atmosphere of the film sets up the mood very well, and it really engages you with what's unfolding in the movie, and the mood is especially intensified when the film tells of Phil Fish's frustration when working on Fez. Overall, it's one of the great documentaries of our time, and I feel it's a great contribution to my own perspective on game development.

Apollo 13
Apollo 13(1995)
½

This film was such a butt-munching bore that nothing could make up for it. Let's face it, the Space Age is over. Therefore, any movies about the space exploration in the historical context have the tendency to be incredibly boring. This film has an all-star cast, but I think they picked the cast just so this can be the thing that bolsters their careers. Even if they were decent, or even good, it doesn't make up for the fact that all they do is talk and talk until your brains burst in boredom. I don't know how this film got to be so popular with cinema-goers, critics, or the general ITV2 audience, but I generally think that this is a pretty overrated film, mainly because it's so damn boring.

Born on the Fourth of July
½

After Top Gun, studios from across Hollywood were looking to cast Tom Cruise in their next big pick. But when Oliver Stone picked Tom Cruise for this film, it was actually a fine choice. The acting in this film is very good, and some of the film's most dramatic scenes certainly know how to capture the moment, especially since this is in a historical context. The story, based on the life of Ron Kovic, tells the story of a man who was seduced by the lies told by the Marines, only to see the truth of his actions in the worst way possible, leaving him to fight against the deception of the Nixon government. The plot is told very well, and the drama really comes out. This is the mark of a great film. If you can handle the length, then you'll want to see for yourself Oliver Stone's triumph of film-making.

Valkyrie
Valkyrie(2008)

Sure, it may come across as basically another World War II thriller to some, but I think that this film doesn't get enough attention. The performances are actually very good, and it's one of the few films in which Tom Cruise wasn't a poor casting choice. Granted, I can see why Germany wouldn't like the idea, but he actually performs very well in this movie, as does the rest of the cast. The film's interesting premise is helped further by the film's attention to detail, and also the high production values. The drama is actually rather effective, which I found to be quite surprising for many reasons. Overall, it's a film that's not to be missed, and I doubt that I can find much fault, though I think it would be better if they could fit in at least few action scenes.

American Beauty

I was simply amazed at how much of a masterpiece this film is. It's basically a darker, sexier, and ultimately more mature look at American life in the suburbs, or at least how we've come to view it. The acting is incredible, and the characters are so realistic, that it's actually totally believable, especially when it comes to some of the dialogue. The story is a very well-crafted deconstruction of the façade that people put up when they want to keep up with the Joneses, and it conveys the message of "beauty is skin deep" more powerfully and more effectively than anything else I've ever seen. The film is full of vivid imagery, all of which conveys the various metaphors expressed throughout the film, and the drama is powerful and abundant. Overall, I think that not only is this film a classic, but I think I've found the magnum opus of the 90's.

Patton
Patton(1970)

Let the word be known. Patton was a great film about a general who simply wants to command an army to fight. It shows Patton's character in perhaps the most objective yet glamorized way possible, and nowhere is this clearer than in the classic opening of the film. Yes, I don't agree with Patton's politics in the film, but that doesn't really matter, because the performances are all great. More importantly, all the events are kept within the historical context, which makes the setting all the more believable. The film also looks and sounds great, with brilliant costumes and set pieces, coupled with realistic action. Overall, Patton is pretty much the ultimate war film. Yes, it's almost three hours long, but it will be worth it in the end.

Shakespeare in Love

It might be a decent film, maybe even a good one. But the way I see it, it wasn't truly magnetic enough to warrant any meaningful interest. Yes, the acting is quite good, but a truly Elizabethan setting doesn't interest me. I may have done Shakespeare in English, but that doesn't automatically mean that I'll like anything to do with Shakespeare. But to be fair, if this movie had ironed out some of its flaws, then maybe it would have been a better film. Really though, it is pretty overrated. Either that, or I'm simply not the target audience of this film.

Airheads
Airheads(1994)

It looks as though Airheads could have been a good movie, or at least a fairly decent one, but they just kept screwing it up. Many of the characters are just plain jerks, and I think they made some pretty poor casting choices. Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi are okay, but why'd they pick Adam Sandler? That guy can't even act! The story seems very improbable, and I can't help but think that it glamorises the very rock and roll terrorism that the main characters didn't really want to have to resort to in the first place. But in all fairness, the film doesn't exactly stereotype heavy metal too much. In fact, the film actually makes numerous covert references to metal bands that were popular at the time, and if there's one good part of the film, it's that they actually got White Zombie to play on a stage for this film. All in all, this film does have its moments, but it's mostly crap, mainly because there's absolutely no jokes whatsoever, even though it's supposed to be a comedy movie.

Black Swan
Black Swan(2010)
½

I'm actually amazed that this film would turn out this well. Why is this is good movie? Because it literally shatters your expectations of it as soon as you watch it. The characters have a level of life and flavour to them that makes you love or hate them. Either way, your emotions are stimulated. The story works very well, because it's littered with symbolism, and is basically a concoction of dark themes. One thing I've noticed is that the two most common themes are self-harm (the main character apparently having damaged her own body) and the pressure to succeed (where else could her hallucinations be coming from?). Whatever it is, it's a source of genuine horror, not like the fake horror you find in today's horror movies. Yes, even though it's technically a psychological thriller, I consider it a psychological horror movie because what you see is quite striking. Overall, it's really a brilliant example of horror done right, but it's the kind of film that after seeing it once, I wouldn't be too keen on seeing another time, just because I wouldn't like the idea of going through all that again. On the other hand, there is some real artistry in this film, and perhaps the repulsion is proof of its power.

Patriot Games

Though it might seem derivative of The Hunt for Red October to some, it still manages to be a really good film, with the same high production values as its predecessor. The acting is top-notch, thanks to such high-profile actors as Harrison Ford, Sean Bean and James Earl Jones, and the story comes together quite nicely, with all the elements in the right place. The film's style works for the kind of film that it is, and the action scenes are very good too. Overall, it probably doesn't have as much charm as its predecessor, but it's still good in its own way.

My Cousin Vinny

Yes, it's pretty apparent that it's not very funny, but it's actually not bad. If there's one thing that stands out in this film, it's the acting. Sure, some of the characters can be outright unlikable, but the acting is really nice, especially coming from the film's star Joe Pesci. The plot seems iffy at times, but I think it's pretty good, even if the script lacks a lot humour. To be completely fair, the film may have a sense of humour that I clearly don't understand, probably because the subject matter is more for "sophisticated adults", but it still could have been a lot funnier. Otherwise, it's still mildly entertaining, if only due to the performance of its main cast.

Tremors
Tremors(1990)
½

This movie is basically one huge let-down after another, to the point that I'm actually amazed at how a film like this could be successful enough to spawn a whole franchise. While I might have some appreciation for the central concept, it's ruined by the film's attempt to fuse the monster movie genre with the Western film genre, and the end result feels like some horrible Southern horror flick (which itself is ironic because the film is set in Nevada). The film doesn't look incredibly eye-catching, and for a film advertised as a "horror comedy", it's not even remotely funny.

No Country for Old Men
½

What we have here is a very dark and interesting film that employs shock thrills with its copious amounts of bloody violence. Suffice it to say, a more honest title would be "No Film for Old Men", because this isn't for the faint-hearted. The acting is really good, and the story comes together naturally. However, if there's one thing at all that keeps me from truly appreciating this film, it's the very thing that gives it flavour - the violence. I say that, of course, because some of the scenes are a little too gruesome to be comfortable.

The Men Who Stare at Goats

This film sounded promising, but it just failed at every attempt. Many of the characters keep spewing random New Age nonsense that doesn't appear to be coherent to the plot. The plot takes way too long to get to the point, and there's barely any humour in the script. Save for a few catchy songs, the film has nothing it can offer to redeem itself. It's basically a textbook disappoint.

Magnum Force
Magnum Force(1973)
½

I must admit, that this is a good movie, but I think that it's basically lost the political subtext that Dirty Harry had during its transition to becoming a mainstream Hollywood action franchise. That doesn't make the film inherently bad. In fact, while the film is only a little weak in terms of plot and characters, it delivers when it comes to violent action, and the title was simply impressive.

The Eagle
The Eagle(2011)
½

While the film tries very hard to make an impact, but it just feels so dry and unnoticeable. The acting tries to be as believable as possible, but frankly, I don't find Romans saying the word "piss" to be very believable. The story means well, but the events don't seem to have much of an impact. The film looks good at the beginning, but it seems to have made very little impact whatsoever, and the action looks too subtle for it to even be an action film.

Aliens
Aliens(1986)
½

Early on in the movie, you'll wish they named this movie "Where are the Aliens?". Thankfully, they show up eventually, along with the blazing action. The story comes together very well, and at the beginning of the film, they justify the need for a sequel to begin with. Though I'm not too big a fan of the little girl (Newt is a rather odd name don't you think?), the acting is still rather top-notch. The presentation and special effects are well done, the creature effects look amazing, and the action, as I mentioned a little earlier, is awesome. All in all, it's superior to its predecessor in many ways, and it's a fine example of sci-fi done right.

The Replacement Killers

Though this might not be the freshest of action movies, it does have some redeeming moments. The characters are really nothing special, but I do like the idea that a deadly assassin can have a guilty conscience, even if the idea isn't very well developed in this film. Really, it's not the plot, or the character development you should be watching this film for anyway. It's the action that really matters, and the film's straightforward, bloody action scenes are what keep this movie from being completely awful. In this regard, it's decent, but it could have been better.

An Education
An Education(2009)

This film seems very stuck in trying to recreate the England of 1961 (which I admit is something the film is good at). I'm aware that this is from a sixteen-year-old girl's point of view, but as the film progresses, I feel it gets increasingly trapped in that girl's perspective, to the point that it doesn't show us any other point of view. Then again, girls that young weren't too bright back then, and if this film is correct, they were easier to persuade. To be fair, I actually like Carey Mulligan's overall performance. She's actually a pretty good actress, and yet she gets less respect than Angelina Jolie. The film might not be appealing in certain areas, and it can seem dull, but it actually does have some coldly dramatic moments that make up for the rather farcical premise.

Basic Instinct
½

Basic Instinct is a movie that's full of surprises, starting with the admittedly unsettling opening scene. The characters are quite well-played, and the acting is good enough to make Sharon Stone a Hollywood star. At first, the story will probably seem a little dry as it tries to be like a Hitchcock thriller, but it gets better as the film unravels. The title isn't very effective, but I think the rest of the film still has a neat sense of style. Overall, it's a good film, and a must-see for any die-hard movie buff.

Kiss of the Dragon
½

With its realistically choreographed action scenes, this could have been a really good movie. However, it's knee deep in problems involving the story. The characters aren't too bad, but they could have done better with regards to the way the characters act in the plot. The plot itself could have used quite a bit of improvement, mainly because it focused less on the action and more on the back story of the lead female (a prostitute). The film looks a little bad dated, but otherwise not too bad. If there's one real problem is that not enough of the explosive, violent action seen at the beginning even happens. Overall, it's a major disappointment.

The Shining
The Shining(1980)

This movie unfailingly signifies why today's gory horror films are bad, and why the old psychological and symbolic horror movies may have been good. Seriously, this was a great movie, riddled with believable acting, and a tidal wave of symbolism that actually requires thought before you establish a meaning to it. The film is also highly effective at establishing mood, and it provides many great moments that other films of its type simply can't. Overall, it's a thoroughly entertaining classic film that shows you what horror movies should be doing, and how powerful a film can be without excessive gore.

Office Space
Office Space(1999)
½

Though it doesn't start being immediately funny, it does go somewhere with its material, and sets itself up as a genuinely clever and unique jab at the drudgery and general awfulness of office life. The characters are really interesting, except Jennifer Aniston's character. To be honest, I think she has no real place in this movie other than to attract a wider mainstream audience. The story is put together really well, and it's told in a much cleverer fashion than Idiocracy, and the style of the movie seems to support the overall direction. Overall, though whatever message it has seems to have been ignored, I think it's still relevant today, because office work still sucks.

Casino
Casino(1995)

It may be incredibly long, but it builds up to an effective conclusion, with a rather compelling story. The characters have really hard-hitting personalities, coupled with brilliant acting. Though it sounds like another Goodfellas-style flick, it offers some unique moments, and the style of the movie is great, featuring some damn fine music. Sometimes, the film can be very violent, but I think that allows you to think of why the mobsters in the film are bad people. Overall, it's very good movie, but it doesn't quite match up to the films it was trying to emulate.

American Graffiti

For me, this is what it would be like if there was a teen movie that was essentially a documentary probing into teen movies, like a teen movie documentary within a teen movie. Maybe that sounds too metaphysical for comfort, but I say this mainly because it doesn't seem to depict its characters in an overtly positive light. If you ask me, this is probably the most objective depiction of the 60's teen stereotypes we'll ever see in our lifetimes, and though American Graffiti isn't exactly a masterpiece, its style is certainly faithful to the central themes, using the music that was popular at the time which the movie is set.

The Adjustment Bureau

The Adjustment Bureau is an odd case. They tried as hard as possible to make it a good movie, but the film is numerous problems when it comes to making sense. The plot is full of holes, particularly regarding the history and motivations of the Adjustment Bureau itself. Who are they? Where do they come from? Why do they care what about the mistakes we made in the past? More importantly, what is this plan they keep talking about? The film just leaves so many unanswered questions, and that's sad, because this had the potential to be a really good sci-fi flick, but it seems to have wasted its potential. But if there's one good side to the amount of plot holes, it's that it gives the viewers an opportunity to try and answer these questions themselves.

Labyrinth
Labyrinth(1986)
½

Yes, Labyrinth can be incredibly cheesy, but in a way that it's so incredibly fun to watch unfold. Obviously the main attraction of this film is David Bowie, who at this point had become a mega-popular musician. Bowie's performance in this movie is magnificent, and he delivers his lines with unfailing eloquence. The story is put together very well, and the characters can actually be quite humorous when you really look at it. The soundtrack, the special effects, and the action are all great, and it really demonstrates that the 80's was a fantastic decade for fantasy films like this.

The Dark Crystal
½

To some, it may seem that that it's a copy of the Lord of the Rings, complete with all the fantasy clichés, but it's actually a unique fantasy film with strong emphasis on its visuals and concepts. The characters and creatures look weird, but then again, they're basically muppets. Besides, the story is actually quite good, and it's told quite well. Besides, if you're not won over by the story or the characters, then the film's visuals and special effects will certainly be appealing.

The Magnificent Seven

In many senses, this is a really good movie. Yul Brynner's performance was really good, and the film in general looks great. The plot seems like any old Western movie of the time, but it all comes together quite nicely, especially when the seven gunmen start dying out. The visuals look great, and they work well with the film's overall style and setting. The best part, without a doubt, is the unforgettably iconic theme song. Overall, this is a film you should definitely watch at least once in your lifetime.

The Great Escape

I'm not denying that it's a good movie. I like it, but I don't think it's an absolute classic. The acting is great, and the plot is historically realistic, but my main problem is that the film is deplorably long. It's longer than any of Sean Connery's 007 movies. If there's one thing that defines the film, it's the film's classic soundtrack, and that film looks really good. And besides, the plot does flow quite nicely.

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles

Though it is a valid attempt at reviving Crocodile Dundee as a film series, it's also a rather shoddy attempt. The plot is basically a rehash of the previous films, except that Crocodile Dundee now has a son to take after him. It also tries hard to glare at Hollywood culture, but fails miserably at even that. The film is loaded with poor special effects, dumb action scenes, and basically everything we've seen ten times or more. Overall, the film-makers obviously didn't care for this film, because it's a poorly done comedy adventure with purely coincidental humour.

The Hunt for Red October

It's a pretty well-done thriller that pays off in terms of the experience. Alec Baldwin, for some bizarre reason, actually makes for a viable main character, but Sean Connery practically stole the show. In fact, he's the highlight of the movie. The film's overall style can come across as quite aggrandized, but it works for this sort of film, and the plot is quite clever too. Overall, it's not just a good movie, but it's also a piece of good film-making.

Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane(1941)

Yes, Citizen Kane is a classic movie. It's a very artistic, symbolic, and metaphorical film that really tells the tale of a tycoon's rise and fall without being overly moralistic. I think that Charles Foster Kane is perhaps the best depiction of a media tycoon in all of popular culture, and I say that because the film paints him as an imperfect, yet three-dimensional character, while simultaneously creating parallels with William Randolph Hearst and his mistress. The acting is superb, and the film's style is undeniably powerful. Overall, it's a great film that more than definitely made its mark on culture.

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian was a great film, and then Hollywood screwed it up by making this travesty. They tried as hard as they could to try and make this crappy film appealing, but the entire film just falls flat on its ass. The characters are basically nothing but mere stock characters, and the script, and perhaps the plot, is loaded with clichés. Perhaps the film's strong point is its decent special effects. However, I think they spent too much time making the film look pretty. Though there's plenty of action, it all feels quite shallow, but it can be so brutal that it shouldn't be viewed in 3D, even if it may have been what the makers were intending. Overall, it's a shallow, pointless remake that didn't even try to live up to the original.

Hang 'em High
½

Though it's not as good as A Fistful of Dollars, it certainly has its good qualities. The title is certainly cool, and the plot, in my opinion, really showcases how glorified public executions were in the Old West. The overall style of the movie is enjoyable, and it feels like you're watching a proper Western, and the characters, though many of them aren't that great, have their moments, but Clint Eastwood's character is definitely more interesting. I've also noticed that the theme of justice permeates through the whole movie, and the way it's played with is rather interesting. Overall, it's a good movie, and one that should be recommended to anyone wanting to be an avid fan of Westerns.

Blade II
Blade II(2002)

I should be blunt; this movie was not as good as the last one. The plot doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, and I don't very