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since 10/02/2009


Drive (DVD) 08/03/2012

Drive (2011) Film Review

Drive (DVD) It’s hard to define a film like Drive. It has bits of everything: Heist, car chases, revenge, indifference, loneliness, b-movie gore; and it carries a heavy 1980s atmosphere that is underlined by the cars, music, clothes and architecture. It's a film I could write for days about. It also has a very weird, artsy tone, which, depending on your movie preferences, will really grab you or throw you off completely. On a personal level, having seen my fair share of "indie" and plenty of balls-to-the-wall action films throughout my time, Drive was an ideal choice for me. Take, for example, the fantastic opening sequence that involves the main star (Ryan Gosling) escorting two thugs from a warehouse robbery, whilst he dodges police cars and listens to a baseball game on the radio. Later, the film almost freezes for a few minutes to focus upon a developing kiss between the same character and his love interest (Carey Mulligan) as they board an elevator in the company of a killer. There is no dialog at all in this scene.Such a contrast in style brought many surprises and left me anticipating how Drive was about to unravel at the time of watching. Although the story is relatively simple -- a Hollywood-stunt-performer-turned-getaway​-driver partakes in a heist just to protect the woman (and child) he's become involved with -- the film's stylistic build and character appeal make it a very memorable experience. Drive is really quite remarkable in its character development, which is ...

Killer Elite (DVD) 27/02/2012

Killer Elite (2011) Film Review

Killer Elite (DVD) Killer Elite basically starts out as a typical Jason Statham film normally does, but with the added bonus of Robert De Niro appearing as his sidekick. People get shot, cars get blown up and all the time the veins on the cockney actor's balding head begin to throb furiously. At that point of watching I began to think this could be a pretty decent film -- and it was, in parts -- but after the promising opening things started to get a little too complicated for its own good. Having no resemblance to the 1975 film of the same name, Killer Elite is based on a book by Ranulph Fiennes, titled The Feather Men, and that's where its problem lies. This controversial book by the ex-British Army soldier talks about his experiences with a secret society that protects SAS personnel from a squad of freelance assassins, but it mixes fact with fiction, leaving the story open to interpretation. The film distorts things further by altering numerous elements of Fiennes story. Bryce (Jason Statham), Hunter (Robert De Niro), Davies (Dominic Purcell) and Meier (Aden Young) are the mercenaries doing a job for an Omani Sheikh (Rodney Afif), who wants vengeance upon former SAS agents Harris (Lachy Hulme), Creeg and McCann for killing his three sons during the Dhofar Rebellion. Meanwhile, Spike Logan (Clive Owen) is the head enforcer doing the investigating. That may not be too difficult to understand, but the film's pacing is all over the place and it's pretty easy to loose track of what the hell is ...

Violence Begets Violence (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Jedi Mind Tricks 22/02/2012

Jedi Mind Tricks: Violence Begets Violence Album Review

Violence Begets Violence (Parental Advisory) [PA] - Jedi Mind Tricks Much has been said about the absence of long-serving producer Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind on Jedi Mind Tricks' seventh LP, Violence Begets Violence. Citing "lost passion", frontmen Vinnie Paz and Jus Allah and DJ Kwestion recruited a host of new producers and went on to make the album without him. The problem, though, isn't with the beats, as many have proclaimed, but with the lyrics, with Paz and Allah preferring to exercise their thug personas, rather than speak on a variety of metaphysical subjects, as they have often done so well in the past. Yeah, JMT has always been violent, I know, but the way the group mixed its aggression with sinister imagination made for (me, especially) some really great, late night listening that inspired further thought into everything from religion to government conspiracy. Violent By Design (still, by far, their best album) had the right balance, but much of VBV's content sounds immature and wannabe-gangster like("One's for more liquor/ two's for more liquor/ Honestly it's my everything/ I adore liquor/" ('Weapon Of Unholy Wrath')) making it more annoying than it is admirable. There's no tracks like 'Uncommon Valor: A Vietnam Story' on his album, which tap into the lyricists' emotional insecurities and begin to question the real motives behind their supposedly violent nature. There's hints of it -- "It's been hard on Vinnie since my father's gone" (on the excellent 'Design In Malice') -- which showcase JMT at its most involving, but the ...

Lagaan (Subtitled) (DVD) 17/02/2012

Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India Film Review

Lagaan (Subtitled) (DVD) The word "lagaan" translates to "tax" in English, and here relates to actor-come-producer Aamir Khan's fictional take on the British Empire's oppressive rule of the Indian people.Set in 1893, in a small village, Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne) is looking to double the tax income and increase the pressure upon the number of Indian farmers, who're already struggling with a severe drought. Being the arrogant man that is, however, he presents the villagers with a challenge: Beat the Brits at cricket and their taxes for three years will be cancelled. Lagaan is essentially a sports movie mixed with politics, making it a really enjoyable viewing experience for it's nearly-four-hour running time. Depicting the Indian people's uprising via the means of cricket, director Ashutosh Gowariker appears to have a lot of fun with various larger-than-life characters attempting to learn about the game and overhaul the pesky Brits. As well as a handicapped leg-spinner (Aditya Lakhia), there's a medical wicket-keeper (Shri Vallabh Vyas); and an angry, bearded batsman (Rajesh Vivek); whilst Bhuvan (Khan), the star of the show, attempts to hold everyone altogether.With there being a sports element to the movie, the outcome of underdogs triumphing over the seemingly-dead-certs, of course, is inevitable, but Lagaan still manages to incorporate one nail-biting finale. Typical of (most?) Bollywood/Hindi films, Lagaan also incorporates many song-and-dance routines, which are quite pleasant and ...

England Keep My Bones - Frank Turner 18/01/2012

Frank Turner: England Keep My Bones, Music Review

England Keep My Bones - Frank Turner Frank Turner's fans needn't worry that the singer-songwriter just might be losing his willingness/ability to relate to the common folk as his popularity increases with every album. His latest effort, England Keep My Bones, is a rousing mix of heartfelt honesty and folk-punk guitar anthems coming together to create his most accomplished piece of work to date. Don't misinterpret that word "accomplished", either, for England still has the raw-edge, everyman mentality of Frank's earlier albums, Ire & Song and Poetry Of The Deed, but with a fluent, maturer sound. According to a recent interview, it was actually his intention to have England fall somewhere in-between those two albums to achieve his desire outcome, and he appears to have done just that. Whether praising ordinary people for their imperfections ('Eulogy') or reminiscing about old times drinking/playing cards with his grandmother ('Peggy Sang The Blues'), Turner has this wonderful knack of telling stories that people can identify with. His lyrical versatility, though, goes beyond that in perhaps the strongest "trilogy" of songs he's ever written: 'I Am Disappeared', 'English Curse' and 'One Foot Before The Other', which come mid-way through the record. 'I Am Disappeared' is as ambitious as the dream it portrays in its attempts to bridge relations between an inspirational singer-songwriter (Bob Dylan) and Turner, himself, at a time of seemingly feeling lost and in search of fulfilment. 'English Curse' is a medieval ...

Rock & Roll - Frank Turner 18/01/2012

Frank Turner: Rock & Roll (EP), Music Review

Rock & Roll - Frank Turner The title of Frank Turner's new EP seems quite relevant considering that the man used to front a hardcore punk band, Million Dead, before he embarked upon a solo career as a folk artist. Even more relevant are the lyrics on the opening track, 'I Still Believe' -- "Who'd have thought, that after all, something as simple as rock and roll could save us all?" -- in relation to Mr. Turner's own uplifting and wonderfully-honest music, which has brought joy to many listeners the world over. Rock & Roll is an in-between project, which has recently been released just over a year after his last LP, Poetry Of The Deed, and a few months before the new album drops in early 2011. According to the Winchester-based singer-songwriter, himself, only the aforementioned track out of the five that are listed here will appear on his next record. Considering Frank's extensive tour schedule (which is rapidly approaching one-thousand live shows in nearly six-and-a-half years), it's pretty remarkable that he's found the time to put this taster together. His awesome LPs aside, also, the good news is this isn't just a filler record, as it basically represents the continuing reassurance of a man who just really loves making music. After the anthemic first number, ‘Pass It Along’ is a mellower track that builds in tempo and tells the tale of singer-songwriters' experiences on tour. Its lyrical content is similar to that of 'The Road', but feels much more heartfelt in that it pays tribute to musical ...

Batman Begins (DVD) 18/01/2012

Batman Begins Film Review

Batman Begins (DVD) My utmost respect goes to Christopher Nolan and David Goyer for rebooting the Batman franchise with a moody, imaginative and incredibly fascinating exploration of Bruce Wayne and his transition into The Dark Knight character. What we have with Batman Begins is a film that doesn't aspire to be a Hollywood blockbuster (like the two films before it blatantly did) but a back-story, present-day psychological drama and an action spectacle, all of which have been expertly crafted and rolled into one. Begins is the definitive Batman experience, delving deep into the life of Bruce Wayne/Batman, more so than any other film in the franchise has done to date. Nolan and his screenwriter, Goyer, show where it all began for the superhero, with Wayne/Batman at the forefront of the movie throughout, and not under the shadow of his enemies, as so often before. As well obviously witnessing the shooting of his parents, Wayne is seen living amongst the poor, learning about the criminal mind; attempting to confront the mob behind his parents' killings; and travelling across the world to learn Jujutsu and Ninjutsu, as well as conquer his fear of bats. Most notably, it is this time that Wayne spends training with Henri Ducard and Ra's al Ghul as part of The League of Shadows that lies at the heart of the film, and explains how he becomes so skilled and develops the Batman "persona". Christian Bale is the man in (and out) of the suit this time, and is a much-welcome change from George Clooney in ...

Batman And Robin (DVD) 18/01/2012

Batman & Robin Film Review

Batman And Robin (DVD) Worst Batman movie of them all? How about worst superhero movie of all time? Or even, the worst movie ever made? Die-hard fans and casual movie watchers who've already seen Batman & Robin may find it had to disagree with either one of those statements. But if you're one of those people who are fortunate enough not to have caught a viewing of Joel Schumacher's second attempt at making a Batman movie, and/or are even considering watching it, allow me to tell you how bad it really is. Firstly, it stars George Clooney as the main superhero. He spends his time smirking (as he often does) and trying to act cool, making Batman seem like a pompous arsewipe with no inner depth. Clooney seems incredibly uncomfortable in the role all round, and fails to convince us that his character is the one the whole of Gotham City looks up to and wants to help them save the day. You only have to look at the photographs of the actor dressed as Batman to see that he's completely out of place here. Secondly, it stars Chris O'Donnell. Yeah, that obnoxious little kid from Batman Forever who no one's ever really liked, but still he keeps popping up in shit films and episodes of Grey's Anatomy and NCIS. His character, Robin (who've never been a fan of anyway), spends his time arguing with Clooney over Uma Thurman's character, Poison Ivy, about who she really fancies. This is never interesting; actually, it's downright annoying; as is Robin's flirtation with Alicia Silverstone (AKA "Batgirl"/Alfred's ...

Batman Forever (DVD) 18/01/2012

Batman Forever Film Review

Batman Forever (DVD) With Batman Forever comes a blatant attempt to boost the mainstream appeal of The Dark Knight superhero. Responding to the handful of critics/viewers that deemed Batman and Batman Returns "too dark" under Tim Burton's helm, Warner Bros. have put Joel Schumacher in the chair for this second sequel, and the dark and moody feel of Burton's contributions has been ultimately lost, with the franchise taking a dive into familiar, campy territory. I am not one of those people to express my dissatisfaction with the direction the Batman films took from 1989 onwards; I thought Burton's style made Gotham City a much more daunting environment, opening us up to the corrupt nature of the streets, which, in turn, gave birth to various freaks of nature lurking around in the shadows. As well as examining the "split-personality" of Batman/Bruce Wayne, Burton also incited mystery by leaving plenty of room to explore the lonesome nature of the character(s) in future movies. Obviously preferring the colourful, "upbeat" cartoony feel, more closely resembling the '60s TV series, Schumacher's Forever goes all out with its in-your-face style but, ironically, ends up falling incredibly flat. Boasting new costumes, a revamped Batmobile and a variety of new characters, you might think in theory this Batman is bigger and better than ever before; very disappointingly, it lacks the suspense and appealingly gloomy feel of its predecessors. As well as a change in director, there's also a change in the ...

Nico - Above The Law (DVD) 18/01/2012

Nico (Above the Law) Film Review

Nico - Above The Law (DVD) Nico (Above The Law to the Americans) is the most autobiographical of Steven Seagal’s films, if only for the opening scene, which depicts his early adult life in Japan as an Aikido instructor. From thereon, it goes down the political route, showcasing Vietnam-related war/protest footage and Richard Nixon when he made his famous speech about no one being "above the law". Some critics have described the film as "anti-authoritarian" in that sense, and to an extent I agree. This is basically a story of good-guy ex-soldier/cop "Nico" Toscani (Seagal) attempting to overcome corruption within the local police, CIA, FBI and many other agencies, all of which are involved in a complex drug trafficking business. Kurt Zagon (Henry Silva) is at the peak of the corruption, and though Nico is soon stripped of his badge for getting too close to the truth, his desire to outdo the bad guys keeps him defending the civil liberties of the good people around him. And so, bodies take bullets, bones get broken and limbs are sliced off, but not to the extent that you'd expect from a Steven Seagal movie. Actually, Nico tries so hard to be a "proper" movie that it goes overboard with the storyline, and ends up dragging out much longer than it should. Seagal is wasted for a lot of the time comforting his on-screen wife (Sharon Stone), who annoyingly spends all her life sulking, crying and fearing for her family's safety. It's a shame because when the action scenes do come around, they are actually ...

Exit Wounds (DVD) 18/01/2012

Exit Wounds

Exit Wounds (DVD) 2001's Exit Wounds is Steven Seagal's first attempt at going "urban". Teaming up with rapper DMX, his character pushes the limits of the law to the sounds of Hip-Hop beats and street slang as he attempts to get to the bottom of the corrupt policing in Detroit's roughest precinct, the 15th. That's the plot in a nutshell, but it's told so incomprehensively that you'd think Exit Wounds is trying to be clever. It fails, and in-between the "slower" moments, Seagal (who looks to have aged horribly) spends most of the time whispering like an old man and performing most of his Aikido moves on wires. The fights involving others are obviously staged, and more to the point, staged very poorly -- this is most noticeable via the director's obsession with super slow-mo. The film is further weighed down by its high number of supporting characters, many of whom aren't really necessary and become annoying. Anthony Anderson plays an obvious blaxploitation character, who uses the "n word" at every opportunity; Tom Arnold is a restless talk-show host, who's supposed to be the funny one out of the bunch (he never is); while easily the two most talented people here -- Eva Mendes and Bill Duke -- barely get any screen time at all. DMX -- Seagal's polar opposite -- tries so hard here to come across as a genuine actor, but he's never really convincing. His performance isn't helped by the paint-by-numbers scriptwriting, which seems to insult the viewer's intelligence, telling us to "Start feeling ...

Machine Gun Preacher (DVD) 18/01/2012

Machine Gun Preacher Film Review

Machine Gun Preacher (DVD) Judging by the title, you'd be forgiven in thinking this was some cheesy, Steven-Seagal-type b-movie with plenty of beatdowns and not a lot of logic. A closer look at Machine Gun Preacher, however, sees it mixing what seems almost like an obsessive on-screen war fantasy with a real-life tragedy, and for the most part it manages to depict the complexities of humanity's moral behaviour in an incredibly gripping manner. Perhaps rather surprisingly to viewers who've never heard of Sam Childers -- a born-again missionary, whom the film is based upon -- Machine Gun Preacher has just as much heart as it does balls in its telling of an ongoing war in Southern Sudan. Cries of an "urban Rambo" are perhaps a little premature in summing up the film; what we have here is a fast-moving, action-filled biopic, adapted from the memoirs of an already larger-than-life character, but with the added emotional intensity of a fine Gerard Butler performance and visual detail of some believable, broken-down surroundings. Admittedly, I didn’t know who Sam Childers was or what he did (is there a clue in his surname?), but the "half-saint, half-psychopath" angle on his story admittedly got me intrigued upon this film's release. Childers' story begins with him been released from prison and immediately partaking in drugs and alcohol prior to having a violent confrontation with a hitchhiker. Soon after, his wife suggests that he should embrace the values of the Christian church and leave his reckless ...

Under Siege 2 (DVD) 18/01/2012

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory Film Review

Under Siege 2 (DVD) More of the same for Steven Seagal, but this time it's all set on a train. Nothing wrong with a repeated formula -- it worked pretty well for him in the first Under Siege -- and the action is the obvious priority here, so you can't really knock the film for its entertainment value. Under Siege 2's downfall, however, is its cast of characters, all of whom become pretty annoying over a short period of time. Seagal once again plays ex-Navy-Seal-pretending-to-be-a-cook Casey Ryback, who just happens to be on board a train with his niece (Katherine Heigl) when it is hijacked by a computer nerd named Travis Dane (Eric Bogosian) and a group of meat-head mercenaries. The bad guys plan on taking control of top-secret military satellite and blowing up the East Coast of the United States, as well as executing the train's passengers, unless they are given a sizeable sum of money by the government. Ryback, and a porter named Bobby Zachs (Morris Chestnut), however, somehow manage to avoid been detected, and the two team up and have to think of a way to stop their terrorists getting what they want, before it's too late. The reason why Seagal and his niece are on the train in the first place is largely glossed over here (something about a dead family member), but it's not that important 'cause it's a routine plot that guarantees action. And this being Seagal, of course -- the only man who can stop the bad guys -- he ends up picking them off one by one, using a variety of deadly methods ...

The Glimmer Man (DVD) 18/01/2012

The Gillmer Man Film Review

The Glimmer Man (DVD) In The Glimmer Man, Steven Seagal plays a Chinese-speaking Buddhist who likes to wear prayer beads and extravagant-looking silk jackets. He has an interest in herbal remedies and freely admits in one scene that he "can't fight" when faced with a group of Russian gangsters. Quite surprisingly, Seagal's peaceful, Buddhist side plays off quite well with his usual can't-wait-to-get-in-there-and-kick-some-bad-guy-arse mentality that is the inevitable forefront of most of his movies. Out of the handful of Seagal movies that I've seen (there's an seemingly endless amount, I know), his character here seems to have a nice mix of spirituality and martial arts ability, and is watchable and (dare I say it?) even rather likeable in this film. Keenen Ivory Wayans, his sidekick, although not all that funny, is a down-to-earth guy and keeps the film grounded whilst we're left mostly in the dark about the mysterious past of Seagal's character. The personal details of Jack Cole, AKA "The Glimmer Man", are largely glossed over here, but for some light-hearted banter and a particularly-awesome restaurant fight scene, I didn't really care. The plot, penned out by Kevin Brodbin, seems to think it's more clever than it actually is in depicting routine serial killings as being religiously motivated, and obviously aspires to be on the same level as a certain film starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. But, whatever, it's dropped half-way through the film in favour of the Russian mafia smuggling ...

Marked For Death (DVD) 18/01/2012

Marked For Death

Marked For Death (DVD) Beginning with Steven Seagal locking a Mexican in the boot of his car and ending with him jamming a samurai sword into a Jamaican's penis and then beheading him, Marked For Death could easily be called Ponytail Man Messes With Immigrants Just Because He Can. But it isn't. For better and for worse, Seagal's third film, sandwiched in-between Hard To Kill and Out For Justice, brings a shit load of violence, voodoo overtones and political incorrectness (think Predator 2, minus the predator, and dumber). It's far from pretty, seems to run on for ages, and definitely won't win any awards for its brilliant acting, but it has its odd moments that entertain rather than annoy. What I do like about this movie is its very dark tone. Arguably the darkest entry in Seagal's huge catalogue of (mostly-bad) movies, Marked For Death sees him doing his talking via plenty of bone-breaking Aikido moves whenever he or his family are opposed by an evil, Jamaican drug posse. Led by a drug kingpin known as "Screwface" (Basil Wallace), the gang do what they can to warn Agent Hatcher (Seagal) off their wrongdoings, but things become more and more personal and more and more violent as time goes on. Seagal and his partner Max (Keith David) team up with a Jamaican police officer (Tom Wright, the only good Jamaican guy in this film) in an attempt to stop the baddies taking over town. There's a Catholic confession and some resistance from Seagal to fight along the way, but the film later includes him ...
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