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Non-Review Review: Predator

Predator is an absolutely brilliant piece of work. It’s elegantly constructed, beautifully directed and cleverly written. Perhaps the smartest thing about Predator is the way that it so fantastically plays on audience expectations, offering the perfect bait-and-switch, teasing a jungle adventure in the style of Schwarzenegger’s Commando before morphing into something else entirely. It’s so well handled that the film’s reputation and prestige has done little to dampen its thrills.

A predator stalks...

A predator stalks…

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The X-Files – Deep Throat (Review)

Deep Throat was filmed in August 1993, more than a year after the production of The Pilot in March 1992. In a way, Deep Throat feels like the first proper episode of the show’s first season, even carrying the production number 1×01. It cements a lot of the themes and ideas suggested in The Pilot, more firmly establishing arcs and characters. Indeed, The Pilot ended with a glimpse at the massive government conspiracy surrounding encounters with alien life forms, but Deep Throat serves to demonstrate just how deep that conspiracy goes.

The episode builds on countless ideas and conspiracy theories, delving into the popular suggestion that the United States military has been reverse-engineering alien technology for its own purposes. This suggests that Mulder isn’t just dealing with modern interactions between aliens and humanity, he’s digging into something that is rooted far deeper. As the eponymous informant teases him at the end of the episode, “Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a very long time.”

The truth is up there...

The truth is up there…

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Who We Are In The Dark: Zero Dark Thirty & Torture…

That Zero Dark Thirty should come under fire for its use and portrayal of torture is not surprising. The film deserves to spark debate about how we respond to these sorts of threats, and critically examine our claim to the moral high ground. However, the debate seems overly simplistic. It has been suggested that the controversy over torture cost director Kathryn Bigelow a Best Director nomination, and that’s a shame. The fact she’s felt to the need to respond to these relatively shallow commentaries is less than heartening.

Zero Dark Thirty has a lot to say about torture. It’s a lot of thoughtful and insightful and nuanced stuff, and Zero Dark Thirty actually gets to the nub of the issue, very clearly condemning the culture of “enhanced interrogation”, in a way that is much more effective than any of the commentators seem to realise.

zerodarkthirty4

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Non-Review Review: Argo

Argo might not seem like it, with the action unfolding amidst the Iranian embassy siege and the stakes involved in the rescue of six hostages, but it is something of an affectionate love letter to cinema from Ben Affleck, who is emerging as one of the most talented actors-writers-directors of our time. From the moment that the grain scratches across the retro Warner Brothers logo to the closing credits where fact and fiction compare and contrast, Argo feels like a celebration of movie magic. Perhaps it’s a little tooself-congratulatory at points, as films made by Hollywood about Hollywood tend to be, but Affleck’s direction keeps the movie surprisingly focused. The film maker does an exceptional job wringing real tension from a true story – no small accomplishment, and a testament to his ability.

Standing out from the crowd…

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Non-Review Review: Taken 2

Taken 2 doesn’t pack quite the wallop of its predecessor. The original was a fairly standard action movie, elevated by a relatively lean and focused story, driven by a surprisingly effective Liam Neeson. Neeson is back for Taken 2, and he remains the best thing about the sequel. However, the film lacks the focused intensity of its predecessor. Much like its protagonist, the first film was almost single-minded in pursuit of its goal. This time around, there’s a lot more grizzle on the bone. Most of that comes from the decision to expand the world around Bryan Mills. While the movie works efficiently when Mills is driving the plot, it suffers from its decision to saddle him with more of his family this time around, with both the movie and the character almost weighed down.

Okay, which bright spark thought this was a good idea?

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Non-Review Review: The Bourne Identity

It’s strange to look back on The Bourne Identity, knowing that it kick-started one of the most highly-regarded trilogies in cinematic history. I must confess that I was never excessively enamoured with the espionage thriller – I quite enjoyed it, but I didn’t love it. Though my favourite movie of the “Bourne” trilogy is The Bourne Supremacy, regarded as something of an ugly step-child of the franchise, so what do I know?

Bourne's just hanging out...

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