Tuesday, 31 December 2013


So that was 2013. A mixed bag, a year that seemed to start with real promise but which sadly delivered a fairly damp squib of the year. Plenty of mediocre films and not a single 10/10.

Anyway, for those who're interested here's my list of the films of 2013.


TOP 10 FILMS OF 2013
1. Gravity
2. Rush
3. Stoker
4. Zero Dark thirty
5. Hunger Games 2
6. Alan Patridge: Alpha Papa
7. Pacific Rim
8. Cloud Atlas
9. The Life of Pi
10. Lincoln

11. Iron Man 3
12. Thor 2
13. Django Unchained
14. Behind the Candelabra
15. The Impossible
16. Hobbit 2
17. The Heat
18. The World's End
19. The Wolverine
20. Man of Steel

10. 47 Ronin 3/10
9. The Big Wedding 3/10
8. Hansel and Gretal 3/10
7. Bullet to the Head 3/10
6. Hangover 3 3/10
5. Texas Chainsaw 3D 2/10
4. Red Dawn 2/10
3. A Good Day to Die Hard 2/10
2. Idenity Theft 1/10
1. Movie 43 1/10

World War Z
Wreck It Ralph
Side Effects
Warm Bodies
The Sessions
This is the End
The Counsellor
Ender's Game
Olympus has Fallen
Fast and Furious 6
The Look of Love
Last Stand
The Harry Hill Movie
Anchorman 2
I Give it a year
Welcome to the Punch
Jack the Giant Slayer
2 Guns
Despicable Me 2
G.I Joe 2
Secret life of Walter Mitty
The Interns
The Frozen Ground
Escape Plan
Frances ha
Spring Breakers
Oz the Great and Powerful
Les Mis
Now You See Me
The Family
Kick Ass 2
Broken City
Monsters University
Star Trek into Darkness
Evil Dead
Gangster Squad
This is Forty
The Lone Ranger
Only God Forgives
After Earth
Grown Ups 2
Reds 2

Sunday, 29 December 2013


#85 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Starring Ben Stiller, Kirsten Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott and Shirley Maclaine. Directed by Ben Stiller. 114 minutes.

Walter Mitty is a perennial daydreamer prone to blanking out and creating the most imaginative daydreams, to supplement his staggering dull and lonely existence. He works as a Negative Resources Manager for Life magazine and when said mag is sold and the he loses the negative for the final cover he must overcome his long term grief, caused by the death of his father over 30 years previously, man up and head out to hunt down the photographer (the excellent Sean Penn) and locate the missing negative. Along the way his real-life adventures take-over from his make-believe ones and he becomes a fully rounded human being, able to get the girl and succeed as a human being and all it took was three fantastically expensive trips to far away countries and a couple of extreme sports thrown in for good measure.

First off, this isn't the comedy Ben Stiller was touting in the extended trailers and neither is it cramped with fantastical fantasy sequences as implied. This is a much, much smaller film about a man over coming his shyness and bereavement issues to ask out a girl in his office, whom he's stalking.

It's hard not to like this film, being as it is, incredibly none offensive, indeed it wants desperately to be loved. Plus it stars Ben Stiller and he has one of the faces that's difficult to hate (I think it's his big doe-eyed, moist filled eyes that bore into your very soul every-time the camera crams in for a long, lingering close up – don't worry, if you miss one there'll be another along in a minute – and screams LOVE ME!). That said, this is also a film that desperately wants an Oscar, "Haven't I done enough for it?" it pleads as it grabs your heart strings and tugs for all its worth. It sets out with that agenda for glory and it crushes all in its wake to achieve it, from the rousing, indie music to the stunning scenery. This is a film that desperately wants to be loved. 

But scrap away the saddness, the earnestness, the heart-lifting music and the stunning scenery and it's pretty empty.

The film doesn't really have a plot as such just a long rambling, and manipulative journey to self discovery. That said, it does have a touching finale, which I had to say choked me up.

Beautifully shot, with some moving performances and brilliant music. It's this century's Forest Gump but with the mawkish, horrific sentimentality replaced by a vacuum and a rather desperate need to be loved at all costs and it's a rather empty and shallow experience.



#84 The Harry Hill MovieStarring Harry Hill, Julie Walters, Johnny Vegas, Jim Broadbent, Matt Lucas, Simon Bird, Sheridan Smith, Marc Wootton and Julian Barratt. 88 minutes.

Harry Hill's hamster, Abu is dying and has a week to live so Harry and his nan, Julie Walters decide to give him a week to remember with a trip to Blackpool to visit the tower. Along the way two mysterious henchmen, in the employ of Matt Lucas, try everything they can to kidnap Abu for some nefarious purpose.

Usually when a film gets released without any previews it's because the film is such a stinker it's just not worth wasting money massaging the egos of film critics with free bottles of beer, wine, pizza, or nibbles. Sadly Harry Hill was such a film, released a fortnight ago with no fanfare, no advance previews and no good wind.

My kids saw it before me last weekend and claimed it was awful, with Baxter declaring it was almost as bad as Battleshits, but not quite. My daughter, older, much wiser (she's 14 and knows it all!) said it barely rated a 3/10.

Well, I'm here to say that I have no idea what they saw but it certainly wasn't The Harry Hill Movie which had me laughing from start to finish with it's over the top stupidity, nonsense script and silly panto antics. In fact, if you go in, expecting a panto and you'll utterly love it, but go in looking for the next Annie Hall or Anchor Man 2, or Grown Ups and you'll utterly hate it.

This isn't big film making, it isn't clever film making and it's certainly not game changing, what it is is a full-length feature film version of TV Burp and I for one laughed throughout.

It runs out of steam, it's far too silly and bonkers but i liked it.


#83 47 RONIN


Here's a fun quiz everyone can play.

What's worse? Watching 47 Ronin or Ronin 47 times?

Answers at the end.

Have you seen the trailer for this film? It looks jolly exciting, doesn't it? There's the bit where the green–dress wearing, cgi-witch transforms into a dragon, there's that other bit where Neo tells her he isn't scared of her and she says, 'you should be.' Ooh, ooh ooh! Then there's the bit where Silver Samurai from Wolverine 2 explodes! Then there's the clip where a castle explodes, a bit where the field of wheat explodes, and then there's that bit when another bit of a castle explodes too. Ooh, then there's the bit when it looks like Ted from Bill and Ted gets dragged from a hole in the ground. And then beaten with sticks. Then there's that exciting bit where a bald-headed, yellow-robed monk and Johnny Utah fight, and finally don't forget that fantastic bit where a skeleton tattooed villain with the two guns starts shooting - they use him in the poster adverts too, he looks AMAZING! - anyway, it all looks jolly wow! doesn't it? And you start thinking, 'Hey, this doesn't look as shit as it sounds!'

Well, hold on, oh traveller of the silver screen, looks can be deceiving.

So in a nutshell,  Neo from Point Blank - meets Crouching Lizards, Leaping Lions in Feudal Japan where a, less than perfect, cgi, shape-shifting stoat teams up with a cackling, all-in-black baddy to usurp the shogun by marrying some old bloke's daughter, a flowery bint that professional log impersonator, Keanu Reeves has the chaste hots for. Keanu Reeves plays a californian surfer dude called Kia (after the car) who's trapped in Ancient Japan when his time machine breaks down while on a homework assignment to recruit Confucius to take part in his class project on history or something (it's never explained what he's doing there). Meanwhile some old bloke gets framed for a crime he didn't commit, his 46 Samurai get Ronined, his daughter gets betrothed against her will to the baddy and Keanu mopes about re-enacting the opening scene from Rambo 3 and complaining that everybody hates him and it's not fair.

Sounds like fun, right? It's not, really. there's no jokes, or silly antics just lots of non-smiling serious Japanese men and women, being serious and not smiling (unless they're the villain, then they can't help but smile, alot). There's lots of action, men on horses, men running, swords drawn, blah blah blah but sadly the whole thing is as dull as it is bloodless, even when they're committing Serpico. Not a single drop of claret gets spilled in this film, or when the heads of giants gets chopped off. So it's clear that none of the American film makers have ever seen Shogun Assassin!

You feel each and every minute of its 127 minutes running time.

And the answer to the question. Sorry it's a trick, they're both utterly shit for utterly different reasons.

Oh and the fantastic skeleton tattooed man appears in the film once, he says 'who are you?' and that's it.



Same as before, same cast and in some cases the same jokes. It's funny but more structured than the first and it has a message and a thunking, grinding-to-a-halt, third-act momentum killer that's in danger of derailing the fun.

It piles on the stupidity, dollop after dollop and almost loses sight of what's funny and what's not.
But in all honesty none of it has remained with me. The trailer had most of the funny stuff in it and the shark sequence is just stupid but not in a good way.

Alan Partridge Alpha Pappa was much, much funnier.



The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug 
161 minutes

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, picking up where the last one left off. Thank god for that, otherwise it'd be even longer. This is part two of the Hobbit, The half way point, just one more film to go.

Just go to the loo before the start and avoid drinking coke, this is long, very long, one of the longest, if not the longest film of the year. Plus it's in 3D so the glasses become irritating and for some of you it's in the new exciting 48 frame rate!
So, what do you get for you money? Well, lots and lots of dwarfs fighting, arguing, bickering, grumping, running, walking, grumping, bickering, fighting. You get a lot of fighting but since none of our characters are going to die absolutely no threat or jeopady. At no point do our hero's victory seem anything less that assured. And the orcs, jesus, if you thought Storm Troopers were shit you ain't seen nothing! orcs are rubbish, absolutely rubbish, couldn't hit the side of a barn if they were stood with their noses squashed against it. Rubbish they are. It's no wonder Salamander needs so many of them they have a life expectancy of about a week.

So, what of the film. Well if I'm honest I fell asleep twice, but that will teach me to see a film at a midday screening. One of those sleeps happened at during the fantastically long battle sequence that's glimpsed in the trailer, when our drawf friends are in barrels, that sequence went on so long I fell asleep and woke up and it was still going on. The second sleep happened during the also, fantastically long sequence with the dragon, on and on and on that one goes, when it'll stop nobody knows. Actually that's quite true, because without any warning the film just stops and the credits run, this film has no natural ending, it's like when ITV stick on the news at 10 slap in the middle of a film, sometimes in the middle of a senten

ce, just like that. It just ends and it'll be a whole year before we find out if the drawves, Gandalf and the Hobbit win or lose, gosh I just don't know how it's going to end, it could go either way.

Is it any good? Well yes it is, it's far better than the first, the action is better handled and the animation which takes up a good 99.9 % of this film is near perfect. Of the actors Martin Freeman and Magneto are good as is Luke Evans, the others are drawves and they're just bloody irratating.

Good well made fun. 8/10


#48 AFTER EARTH (between 3-18 June)

Shocked to discover I hadn't written a review of this, despite seeing it at the cinema with Baxter and for the life of me I don't know why not.

Oh, wait I do, it was so dull and boring I simply forgot it even existed.

Will Smith turns off his immense charisma and steps aside to allow his plank-like his son to prove the age-old adage that talent skips generations. Thank goodness for his daughter, Willow's simply fantastic, 'I Whip My Hair Back and Forth' to save the family name.

Anyway, Will and Jaden get separated and marooned following a space ship crash on Earth, millions of years after it was devastated by blah blahs nuking the planet and now its inhabited by evolved monkeys and pigeons (hang on, I think this might be a sequel to Tom Cruise's Oblivious). To make matters worse, Will and Jaden's space ship was carrying one of the aliens and now its loose and hunting them. To make matters even worse, Will is slowly bleeding to death and can't move so only interacts with his son via a phone. And to make matters the WORSTEST EVER, it's directed by M. Night Shamalla Ding Dong aka 'One Trick', as his Hollywood buddies call him. A director so useless and dull that all but one of his films are now used instead of anesthesia for patients with needle phobias.

I'd urge you not to see it but frankly if you've not bothered by now, I doubt you will. So lucky you.


#72 - 80(August 22 - Nov 2013) Elysium. Ender's Game. Escape Plan. Thor 2. Gravity. Rush. Hunger Games 2. The Family. The Counsellor.

Annoyingly at the end of my summer holiday I suffered a serious fall and ended up in hospital and then house-bound for three months. As a result my cinema adventure came to an abrupt end and for three months I was incapable of leaving the house. As a film-phile this was the worst of all punishments and no amount of film watching at home could help. As a result I missed a lot of films. 

#72 ELYSIUM - 22 August (last film before the accident)
Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Murdoch from the A-Team movie, directed by Neilll Blomkamp, the bloke who directed District 9.

I loved District 9, just loved it. What a fantastic debut movie, what a lot of promise to live up to. I really like Matt Damon and Jodie Foster and I really liked the look of the trailer. What a shame this was such a disappointment. A generic, plot-hole ridden chase movie with our cyborg hero chased by an unstoppable killing machine in the shape of Sharlto Copley. Fantastic special effects don't save it from second film syndrome. 6/10

#73 ENDER'S GAME - 27 October
Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, Abigail Breslin and Hailee Steinfeld, directed by Gavin Hood who made the truly awful Wolverine Origins.

Not that bad. Looked great! Brilliant realised special effects, a good cast, a great idea but sadly just too serious and humourless. It does have the distinction of having a, now-ubiquitous Science Fiction film, Twist that is actually shocking. 8/10 

#74 ESCAPE PLAN - 30 October
It's Sly and the Oak, Judge Dredd and Conan, Rambo and John Matrix, co-starring for the first time, both - one-time box office leviathans acting side-by-side in a slam-dunking, mano et mano, action film set in an in-inescapable prison! It's going to be EPIC!

That's how the Hollywood script pitch went and the green light got lit.

Stallone takes on the lead role leaving Arnie to steal the film from under him by winking knowingly at the audience and lugging a huge machine gun around with him. Cue lots of punching, shooting, killing and running, the odd one liner and a natural and relaxed relationship between the two O.A.Ps as they move gingerly around the set. Not terrible, just not terribly good. 6/10

#75 THOR 2 - 31 October
Hooray! It's time for my 'You're thore? I'm so thore I can't thit down!' joke. But now I can change it to, 'you're thore, well I'm thore too.' Really liked the first one, really liked this second one. Great looking, great action, great cast. Perhaps a tad long but still great fun. 8/10

#76 GRAVITY - 9 November
Bloody hell, everyone's favourite film until 12 Years a Slave comes along at least. Truly a spectacular film with out-of-this world special effects (did you see what I did there?) Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Loved it, one of my favourite films of the year. the film is a sequel to Speed, this time Sandra Bullock is on a space ship when a mad bomber targets her space ship. If she travels slower than 20,000 miles an hour her spaceship will explode. 9/10

#77 RUSH -21 November
A thrilling, griping, exciting bio-pic about the career rivalry of James 'The Shunt' Hunt and Niki LOUDA culminating in the, now legendary, 1976 F1 season. Absolutely gripping, a fantastic cast lead by Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Olivia Wilde and directed by Ron Howard. An absolute thrill! 9/10

- 24 November
Wow. Just wow. Really liked the first one, really loved the second one. Jennifer Lawrence is just amazing. She carries this film, the rest of the cast are good too and I love anything with Donald Sutherland in it, even Virus (actually I don't) But he is a marvel!

This is the Hunger Games series, Empire Strikes Back, and when it ends you want more! Can't wait for the next two.


#79 THE FAMILY - November
Robert Deniro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Luc Besson, Tommy Lee Jones.
Sounded good on paper, mafia boss and family in the witness protection scheme spirited away to France.
Sadly, this can't decide if it's an action film or a comedy. Trouble is, it works best as a film about a family struggling in an alien country. To complicate matters, there's a totally unnecessary subplot about brown water. Scrap away the pointless and infrequent violence and you're left with some nicely observed bits, Deniro trying to write his autobiography, Pfeiffer's relationship with her two minders, their psychotic children proving nurture over nature and the the best way to deal with the French. Rest of it is shit.


#80 THE COUNSELLOR - November
Saw this over a month ago and I'm still having flashbacks. A great cast including: Fassbender, Pitt, Diaz, Cruz and Bardem, a once good director and a script from Cormac McCarthy. Fassbender - the Counsellor, an honest yet greedy man, makes a deal with some bad people, it goes pear shape and then his whole life falls apart, along with everybody else. Who will die and who will live?

The script is beautifully written (if it were a book, where you can waffle) but utterly unrealistic in a film or real life. It's directed stylishly, the acting is first class and it looks sumptuous but this film is a flat and uninvolving experience. The trailer looked superb and it's a shame the film doesn't live up to it.

All that said, there's one scene you'll never forget, it made the audience I saw it with laugh out loud, me included. It involves as Porsche, a windscreen and a knicker-less lady.