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Non-Review Review: RED 2

Red 2 is a stronger film than Red, although it’s still not quite a wholly satisfying cinematic experience. There’s a certain charm to watching all these veteran stars reuniting on the screen together, with a considerably lighter touch than The Expendables. What’s interesting about Red 2 isn’t a dearth of good ideas or interesting hooks in the set-up of this sequel, it’s just a littler rushed, a little unfocused, a little disjointed. However, Red 2 generally moves so fast that these problems never quite reach critical mass. The result is more-than-occasionally great fun, but also just a little too light for its own good.

Growing old disgracefully...

Growing old disgracefully…

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Non-Review Review: Blood (2013)

Blood feels a little too familiar on times, verging on cliché. Director Nick Murphy crafts a rich and atmospheric take on a story we’ve seen quite often before. A story of brothers keeping a dark secret, of the way that the islands off the coast of Britain seem to operate under their own law, of the way that guilt and secrets eat us from the inside out. It looks and sounds impressive, with the cast delivering powerhouse performances, George Richmond’s cinematography evoking a harsh wasteland where rules seem looser and myth intermingles with fact, and Daniel Pemberton’s score setting a suitably ominous note.

I wanna take you to the island...

I wanna take you to the island…

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Non-Review Review: Coriolanus

I’m a big fan of Shakespeare adaptations, if done right. The proper cast and crew can serve to make the Bard easily accessible to modern audiences, allowing people unfamiliar with the tragedy in question to follow along with the work remarkably easily. Ralph Fiennes has assembled such a cast and crew for his directorial debut, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus. Although not universally regarded as one of the truly great Shakespearean tragedies, it does have the epic scale and grand drama of some of the writer’s best work. T.S. Elliot would consider it to be, along with Anthony and Cleopatra, to be Shakespeare’s finest tragic play. I think that Fiennes adaptation makes a plausible argument for a long overdue reappraisal of the work. At the very least, it does an excellent job bringing it to a modern audience.

Roman around…

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Non-Review Review: RED

The way that society treats its elderly makes for great fodder for films. After all, what happens to us when we climb over that hill – when we make it all the way to retirement and cease to contribute in the most conventional manner? Will anybody care? Will anybody notice? It’s something that will (hopefully) happen to a lot of us, but it’s not necessarily something we give a lot of thought to – perhaps because we wouldn’t be too comfortable with the answers we’d find. “I never thought this would happen to me,” Joe Matheson confesses at one point as he strolls around “Green Spring Rest Home” with his old colleague, Frank. When Frank asks what he means, Joe elaborates, “Getting old.”

Up to their old tricks...

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Non-Review Review: The Bourne Supremacy

I have to admit that The Bourne Supremacy is the strongest of the Bourne films for me, even though fans of the series tend to forget it, snuggled as it is between The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum. The middle part of the trilogy is undoubtedly the most straight-forward, but that isn’t a weakness – it contains a well-motivated character arc for the character of Bourne while handling the themes of the series remarkably well, and still paying homage to all the plot devices that one associates with the espionage thriller. It isn’t preoccupied with setting anything in motion, nor in wrapping anything up, but that gives the movie much more freedom than the two that surround it.

Nobody said it would be a walk in the car park...

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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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Non-Review Review: X-Men II

I wrote in my review of the original X-Men that the first film in the saga still holds up quite well, even after a decade of superhero movies built off the back of it. It is by no means as spectacular as some of those that followed, nor is it as bad as some of those that followed. X-Men II is something similar. It wasn’t quite as revolutionary, but it did jumpstart another style of summer blockbuster, arguably a subgenre of the type sparked by the original film: the bigger and better superhero sequel.

No need to get your claws out...

No need to get your claws out...

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