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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: The Tourist

In theory, The Tourist should be great fun. After all, the last time we had a high-octane romantic adventure thriller, we ended up with the genuinely entertaining Knight and Day. And, if anything, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie should represent a large step-up from Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t quite deliver. Mistaking twists for plot and assuming that strong leads can make up for underwritten roles, the film flails around rather randomly, alternating between a genuinely exciting little European thriller and fairly paint-by-numbers twist-a-minute adventure, it never manages to set a particular tone, and leaves its two actors struggling to stay afloat amid the rather wonderful Venetian scenery.

Tour of duty?

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Non-Review Review: Legion

Imagine The Terminator if you were substitute “heaven” for “the future” and you’d have a good idea of what this movie is about, right down to a mother offering a philosophical closing narration (okay, that’s Terminator II, but still…). Oh, and maybe drop the quality expectations a bit.

Okay, quite a bit.

Don't cross him...

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Non-Review Review: Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World is a movie that, like Gladiator before it, finds a lot of appeal in resurrecting a genre that was pretty much dead in cinema. As such, despite being well-produced and well-acted, the core of the movie is one of nostalgia – we’ve all seen those classic tales of men at war on the oceans, what might be termed swashbuckling sea-faring adventures. However, unlike Russell Crowe’s earlier film, Peter Weir’s attempt to revive the men-at-sea adventure movie never quite landed with the public – to the point that the genre hasn’t really seen a resurgence, nor has a sequel been produced. Which, to be honest, is a bit of shame. Master and Commander isn’t quite as powerful an experience as it could be, but it is – like the ship on which it is set – well built and sturdy.

It's long and hard and filled with... never mind...

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Non-Review Review: The Young Victoria

There are a few period dramas about classical nobility released every year. Most of them, such as The Dutchess are fairly bland and lifeless affairs – indeed, it’s hard to create an energy or dynamism around a world most of us have never known which is built upon self-restraint and self-control. The tendency is towards po-faced self-importance and excessive melodrama. While I would be hard pressed to describe The Young Victoria as “exciting” or “thrilling”, it is one of the better period pieces I have seen to focus on the British Royal Family, perhaps because – despite the impressive scope of its subject matter (Queen Victoria was, as the end titlecard informs us, the longest-serving monarch of Great Britain) – it remains tightly focused. It’s a story of courtship and romance, loyalty and dependency. It’s a genuinely and honestly romantic film.

Royalty and politics make strange bedfellows...

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