Wednesday, 31 December 2014



So, this is it, my films of the year and what a year it's been. With 95 cinema visits and 88 films seen and 7 multiple visits, it's been an enteraining 12 months of movie watching with an exceptionally high level of good films, in fact it's been hard to find any really bad ones, especially after the shit fest of Transformers had arrived. After that one, nearly everything else seemed no where near as awful. 
Please read and let me know what you think and if I've made any unforgivable mistooks.


  1. Wolf of Wall Street
  2. Gone Girl
  3. Grand Hotel Budapest
  4. Interstellar
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. Imitation Game
  7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  8. Under the Skin
  9. Captain America: Winter Solider
  10. Godzilla 

  11. Nightcrawler 
  12. Edge of Tomorrow 
  13. Inside Llewyn Davis 
  14. FILMED IN Supermarionation
  15.  Tim’s Vemeer 
  16. Hockney 
  17. Paddington Bear 
  18. Dallas Buyers Club 
  19. Locke 
  20. How to Train Your Dragon 2
    Bottom 20 in ascending order of  terribleness.
20. Dracula Untold
19. Three Days to Kill
18. Robocop
17. Escape From Planet Earth
16. Jack Ryan
15. Divergence
14. Pompeii
13. Sin City 2
12. Into the Storm 
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 
10. Sabotage 
9. Transcendence
8. Mr. Peabody and Sherman
7.  Annie
6. Chef
5. I, Frankenstein
4. Amazing Spider-man 2
3. Noah
2. A million Ways to Die in the West
1. Transformers 4: Age of Excretion.

The Films of 2014 with scores. (Italics are films that have been re-released at the cinema) - EDITED.

1.     Wolf of Wall Street 10/10
2.          Blade Runner 10/10 (reissue)
3.          Laputa 10/10 (re-issue)
4.          2001: A Space Odyssey 10/10 (reissue)  
5.          Forbidden Planet 10/10 (reissue)
6.     Gone Girl 9/10
7.     Grand Hotel Budapest 9/10
8.     Interstellar 9/10
9.     Guardians of the Galaxy 9/10
10. Imitation Game 9/10
11. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 9/10
12. Under the Skin 9/10
13. Captain America: Winter Solider 9/10
14. Godzilla 9/10
15. Nightcrawler 9/10
16. Edge of Tomorrow 9/10
17. Inside Llewyn Davis 9/10
18. FILMED IN Supermarionation 9/10
19. Tim’s Vemeer 9/10
20. Hockney 9/10
21. Paddington Bear 9/10
22. Dallas Buyers Club 9/10
23. Locke 8/10
24. How to Train Your Dragon 2 9/10
25. Boxtrolls 8/10
26. 22 Jump Street 8/10
27. What we do in the Shadows 8/10
28. Begin Again 8/10
29. The Guest 8/10
30. X-Men Days of Future Past 8/10
31. Hunger Games 8/10
32. The LEGO Movie 8/10
33. Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs 2 8/10
34. Penguins of Madagascar 8/10
35. Lucy 8/10
36. Raid 2 8/10
37. Walk among the Tombstones 8/10
38. Inbetweeners 2 8/10
39.      Sin City 8/10 (REISSUE)
40. 12 Years a Slave 8/10
41. Nonstop 8/10
42. Theory of Everything 7/10
43. What If 7/10
44. Pride 7/10
45. Cold in July 7/10
46. Big Eyes 7/10
47. The Equaliser 7/10
48. Maze Runner 7/10
49. Black Sea 7/10
50. Unbroken 7/10
51. St. Vincent 7/10
52. Get Santa 7/10
53. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies 7/10
54. Fury 7/10
55. 300: Rise of an Empire 7/10
56. Saving Mr. Banks 7/10
57. Life After Beth 7/10
58. Oculus 7/10
59. Bad Neighbours 7/10
60. Hercules 3D 7/10
61. Malificent 7/10
62. The Giver 7/10
63. Exodus: Gods and Kings 7/10
64. Book of Life 6/10
65. Monuments Men 6/10
66. Expendables 3  6/10
67. Last Days on Mars 6/10
68. Alex and the Terrible Horrible Day 6/10
69. Dracula Untold 6/10
70. Three Days to Kill 6/10
71. Robocop 6/10
72. Escape From Planet Earth 5/10
73. Jack Ryan 5/10
74. Divergence 5/10
75. Pompeii 5/10
76. Sin City 2 5/10
77. Into the Storm 5/10
78. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4/10
79. Sabotage 4/10
80. Transcendence 4/10
81. Mr. Peabody and Sherman 4/10
82. Annie 3/10
83. Chef 4/10
84. I, Frankenstein 3/10
85. Amazing Spider-man 2 3/10
86. Noah 3/10
87. A million Ways to Die in the West 3/10 
88. Transformers 4. 2/10



Starring Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz and Danny Huston. Written by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski and directed by Tim Burton. 106 minutes long.

Telling the married life of big-eye artist, Margaret Keane and her husband, Walter Keane from her walking out on her first husband in 1958, with her daughter, to her later marriage to serial liar, Walter Keane who being an expert at marketing and selling turned his wife into a household name, even if it was his name.

This is the first 'serious' film, Tim Burton has made since Mars Attacks back in 1996 and hopefully sees the one time visionary stake a massive iron circus tent peg through the hearts of Planet of the Apes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice and Wonderland and Dark Shadows.

Ditching one-note wonder Johnny Depp and the glitz and CGI razzamatazz for Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. This is a small intimate portrait of a naive young woman struggling to free herself from her domineering husband and reclaim her voice and her art. Burton frames every outdoor shot like a painted landscape and fills the screen with gorgeous 60's period detail. With a supporting cast that includes Terrance Stamp, Jason Schwartman and Krysten Ritter, Big Eyes is an entertaining and enjoyable flick but with no real major highs the film just rolls along until the 3rd act and the famous court room drama that was to see husband Keane and wife Keane clash for the right to claim credit for the big eyed children that made them incredibly wealthy. Apart from that it's a slow, gentle trawl through a series of vignettes that sign post the rise of Margaret's star but you're left wishing you could have had more insight into Margaret's life.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014



Starring: Jack O'Connell, Domnhal Gleeson, Garret Hedlund, Miyavi and Jai Courtney. Written by Joel Coen, William Nicholson, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, directed by Angeline Jolie 137 minutes long.

Hollywood, as a single entity doesn't get enough credit sometimes. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank it for creating its latest tradition, a new genre for Christmas that of a single human (so far it's been men, but maybe next year it'll be a woman) being beaten and ritually humilitated, tortured and tormented to the point of death, while never losing his integrity and humanity. Last year they kindly gave us 12 Years a Slave and this year they give us, Unbroken  – the true life story of Louis Zamperini the son of Italian immigrants who turned his back on teenage delinquency to run for America in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He went on to fly as a
bombardier for the US Air Force before crashing in the ocean and being cast adrift for 45 days, then  getting rescued and captured by the Japanese and then finally relentlessly tortured for the remainder of the war by a psychotic prison camp commander and the entire Japanese army.  Perhaps the ultimate good news/bad news story.

And boy does this man suffer at the hands of fellow man, it seems that he was put on this Earth to suffer pain and agony at the hands of others and when he's not being kicked, punched, whipped, beaten, thrashed, strapped or bludgeoned he's being attacked by Mother Nature herself in the guise of appalling storms, unrelenting sun stroke, shark attacks and in fact anything that can get its digits on him!

From a truly thrilling and terrifying opening scene on board a claustrophobic B24 Liberator where the crew suffer the horror of watching their bomber turned into a colander all around them at 25, 000 ft, Angeline Jolie takes the decision of yanking us out of that present and into the past of Louis's young life as a delinquent as he steals and drinks booze, before a whistle stop tour of his life through running before we're back up to speed in the present, then it's a thrilling plane crash, those 45 days adrift in the ocean followed by 100 minutes spent in the company of living skeletons and brutal Japanese guards as Louis is captured by the enemy and becomes a POW of the Japanese. And that's where any momentum is ritually and slowly brutalised to death, leaving behind a slow trawl through the physical tortures of this poor man's young life.

All the time we're supposed to root for Louis because he refuses to be broken, surviving whatever life throws at him. The trouble is that by the 70th minute mark you finally give up caring, just when you think it can't get any worse it does and you frankly give up. You sort of go numb and so by the time of Louis's final heroic act of heroism in the face of the enemy comes round you're so shell-shocked yourself, you sort of go just let the whole thing wash over you, untouched. Then it's a quick trip back to the good old US of A and a freeze frame of Louis and his family hugging and a series of captions explaining what happened to all the principle characters after the war. Finally, to cap it all, there's a scene of the  remarkable 80 year old Louis running the torch for the Olympic flame through the streets of Tokyo before we discover he died this year. And you're pulling on your coat and racing off before the credits have even started.

And that's it.

Harrowing, for sure. Well acted, of course. Good direction? Not bad from Jolie. Good film? Not sure if I'm honest, I have no desire to see it again, that's for sure. But it is far more accessible than 12 years a Slave but it's frankly far too grim and bleak to be considered an uplifting film. And is it Oscar worthy, well, not so since those dreadful email leaks tarnished Jolie's career.

Overall this isn't a terrible film or even a bad one, it's very earnest and forthright but it lacks a heart or perhaps it lacks a proper structure to hang the story on. Either way, it's lacking something.




Christian Bale IS Moses. Joel Edgerton IS Ramesses II. Aaron Paul IS Joshua. Sir Ben Kingsley IS Nun. Ben Mendelsohn IS Viceroy Hegep, John Turturro IS Pharaoh Seti I and Sigourney Weaver IS Tuya in Ridley Scott's 154 minute biblical-epic, bio-pic, remake of Charlton Heston's - 220 minute - 1956 classic, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.


Actually, I wish I could just leave my review there at Holy Crap. But it wasn't actually holy crap, it was a sort of HOLY MEH.

For this film, Christian Bale is using his faux American accent, while everyone else, the Americans that is, seem to be trying for an English one. Bale's Moses is a rugged, atheist warrior general with a few rugged facial scars to show us how rugged he is. He is the adopted son of Seti I and considers his brother, Ramesses to be his bestie. But when a Seer's prophecy seems to come true on the battle field, you can see the cracks in their relationship.

After that, life is good right up until Seti confides in Moses that he'd much prefer him to be his heir and before you can say, 'Wow, just like Gladiator.' Seti's dead, Rams on the throne and Bale's been outed and exiled as a Hebrew. Cue years spent in the wilderness, raising goats, finding a wife, having an heir of his own and acquiring (just like the name-sake of this year's other religion epic, Noah) a really nasty head injury that allows him to see, first a burning bush and then later on, God himself and boy is he pissed! I mean really pissed. He and Moses bicker quite a bit about that, Moses points out he's left it a bit late to come to the party and complain about the dip and God points out that Moses seems to have come along and not brought a bottle.

After that it's the usual Bible story of Moses waging a terrorist war against the Egyptians in a war of attrition, before the biblical plagues - now nearly all neatly explained by science - forces Rams to 'Let his people go'. Then it's a race against time for the Red Sea while the entire chariot army of Rams chases after them, all before the truly epic tsunami that makes a clean sweep of everything.

Then it's a quick chat with God and some commandments knocked out on a stone tablets before the nation of Israeli goes looking for a home.
If there's one thing Ridley Scott can do it's grand epics on a biblical scale and boy, is this one an epic, with fantastic sets, a cast of thousands, sweeping vistas, slow pans across vast deserts, scenes that can only be described as hell on earth, amazing set-pieces and all of it art-directed to within an inch of its life.

So it's sad to report that the whole thing is all just a bit meh, sure it looks good but it's so bloody poe-faced and sombre, I'm not asking for slapstick or gags but once again it really does seem as if humour was only discovered in the 20th century and until then everything was really hand-knitted and bloody grim.

I doubt people will be watching this in fifty years, like the Charlie Heston original but it's okay. Just can't think of a lot of reasons to make you want to see it.


Monday, 22 December 2014



Starring Quvenzhané Wallis, Jamie Foxx, Cameron Diaz, Rose Bryne, Bobby Cannavale and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Written  by Aline Brosh McKenna and Will Gluck. 118 minutes long. Directed by Will Gluck.

Foster Kid, Annie. Cute, adorable, loveable, charming, sweet, wonderful, brilliant, cold, cunning,  sinister, manipulative and only able to show affection to a dog she herself adopts. Talk about a psychotic timebomb just waiting to explode.

Abandoned at the age of four outside a restaurant, 10-year old Annie lives her life by her rules, doing things her way, playing the game to get by, when she's not manipulating her teacher, or passive-aggressively stealing money from the kindly convenience store owner, she's sweetly convincing a bureaucrat into giving her sensitive personal information, guilting a New Yorker into 'loaning' her her Boris bike,  or scamming an old waiter out of food, or turning her foster mum into a self-loathing, alcoholic who craves love and offers meaningless sex to any man she meets. This 21st Century Annie is nothing less than a 10-year old con artist, and I think looking back over the film, quite possibly a killer too. Consider the facts, her parents are never heard of again, one night they give her up for adoption and are never heard of again, they utterly vanish, in the 21st Century, that's impossible. Her file has no other information, quite a feat in the 2000s. so I'm thinking she killed them and gave herself up for adoption, knowning she could manipulate her way to a better life, and boy does she succeed! This girl scams her way into the life of trillionaire Stacks, a sad, lonely, vunerable man who just wants to be loved and to have a family of his own. Luckily Annie is on hand to push all the right buttons and to cunningly manipulate everyone into giving her exactly what she's always wanted, wealth, power and fame. I'm guessing in that film world, that 30 minutes after Stacks signs her adoption papers he's 'accidentally' dead and she's the wealthiest woman in the entire world.

The original Annie, the one with Albert Finney had class and soul, it's not a classic but it's more genuine and fun than this 'dead-behind-the eyes', shallow, for-the-money remake, which is as as cold and calculating as its heroine.

The story, for what it's worth is easy to summarise. Think Stuart Little, it's the same story but with a bloke running for mayor and a scheming assistant instead of a white cat. In this version of Annie our Daddy Warbucks is called Stacks.

The songs, sound dubbed and fake, the singers all look like they are lip synching their little hearts out. The songs jar and stick out like a sore thumb and despite a couple of 'fourth-wall' questions about 'are you singing to me?' feel jarring and awkward. The famous 'Hard Knock Life' song here is an empty, shallow karaoke performance, with a dance number so wooden and limp you can almost see the young actresses counting out their steps as they humourlessly work their way through the routine.

You seriously can't help thinking that Annie scammed the whole thing right down to the happy ending when her fake real parents are captured and killed after a massive police car chase before they can give evidence that would convince anyone that Annie was the mastermind behind the whole thing.

Dull, dreary and horribly manipulative, this is a soulless and joyless experience only somewhat enlivened by both Diaz and Bryne. Foxx comes across as a really creepy, pseudo Howard Hughes particularly since he too is an inventor, with a hygiene fetish, whose entire fortune is built on a privately run network of mobile phone masts that can track every single user's movements and conversations for the past eight years! He literally employes an entire floor of his headquarters to spy on his customers. Seriously, he could have gone from this film to being in a Bond film as the villain and you wouldn't have battered an eyelid.

Lacking soul, passion and fun this is a creepy, bland little film.

There's also one last thing I want to mention. This film opens in Annie's class where the children are reading essays about their favourite dead presidents. A cute red, wirey-haired girl in a red dress gives an enthusiastic talk about her favourite president, she's portrayed as a snobby, smarmy, know it all - her name, Annie A. She is supposed to be the old Annie, not this new one, who we meet next. The old Annie should be laughed, mocked and sneered at. Out with the old! In with the new! We can't have things based in the 1930s, how will today's sophisticated masses deal with poverty and food banks as set in those dark days before mobile phones and helicopters?




Starring:  Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Nick Frost, Simon Pegg and Jared Harris and Tracey Jordan. Screenplay by Adam Pava & Irena Brignull, story by Alan Snow and directed byAnthony Stacchi and Graham Annable. 100 minutes long.

I can't believe I forgot about this! I saw it back in September and completely forgot to write a review, which in no way is indicative of the film, which I have to say I absolutely loved! It's a bizarre, unique and utterly charming little animated film enhanced to the Nth degree by being stop motion animation and not CGI.

Made by the Laika studio who previously made Coraline and Paranorman and utilising the same style of animation as Aardman's Wallace & Gromit, that of stop-motion animation. Boxtrolls is the story of Egg a young lost human baby who is found one night and raised by a race of benign, inventive trolls who live beneath the streets of a Cheesebridge collecting rubbish (a sort of cousin to the Wombles), they all wear boxes, hence their name - Boxtrolls. For the past ten years, as Eggs has grown, a nasty rumour has grown in strength that the Boxtrolls kidnap children and so the services of pest exterminator have been hired to rid the town of the trolls. But the exterminator, voiced brilliantly by Sir Ben Kingsley has his own nefarious plan...

What follows is a thrilling, always imaginative adventure that is as rewarding as it is fresh. The script is great filled with musing on the nature of existence and the duality of man, along side a silly slapstick and some extremely amazing animation. Seeing actual models elevates this far beyond the usual CGI fare and gives the whole proceedings a unique edge.

Can't wait to own it on Blu Ray.


Sunday, 14 December 2014



Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Darryl Hanner, Joanna Cassedy, Brion Jones, M. Emmet Walsh, Joe Turkel, Edward Jones Olmos, William Sanderson, James Hong and Morgan Paul. Written by Hampton Fancer and David Peoples. Directed by Ridley Scott. 116 minutes long.

It's the future, 2019 to be precise, six replicants have escaped off-world and returned to Earth for some unknown reason, ex-Blade Runner, Deckard is press-ganged back on the job to track the skin jobs down and retire them. Along the way he discovers love with an artifical woman and what it truly means to be human from an artificial man, boy imagine the film if those roles had been reversed...

This is an utterly brilliant film and easily in my top ten, indeed it might even be my number one film of all times. I saw it for the first time back in 1982 as part of a special Starburst preview at the Shaftesbury Ave Odeon. The queue stretched around the cinema and so over subscribed was the free screening that the cinema was forced to show it on two screens to meet the demands. I sat in the main cinema, on the left hand side of the auditorium in the middle with my best friend, Rian Hughes. I would discover, many years later that one of my best friends at art college, Dee Block also saw it at the same screening.

Anyway, when the lights went down and the Alan Ladd in association with Sir Run Run Shaw digital tree logo filled the screen, line by line, a tingle flowed up my spine from the small of my back to the nape of neck as all my hairs on my back stood up on end and I knew I would love this film. Two hours later, I left, having experienced an epiphany of sorts, it was such a thrilling and inspiring movie and I've lost count of the number of times I've seen it on TV, on VHS, on DVD, on Blu Ray and re-released at the cinema!

Looking back on 1982 it's incredible what a great, great year for cinema it was, with the likes of: The Thing, ET, Tron, Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan, Mad Max: The Road Warrior, Conan The Barbarian, Dark Crystal, Android, Basket Case, First Blood, I, The Jury and Megaforce all being released in the same year. But of them all, Blade Runner remains my absolute favourite of that year.

And despite knowing it backwards, indeed I can quote nearly every line, tonight  I learned something new about the film, for the past 32 years I had always thought that Roy tells Tyrell that he, 'wants more life, FUCKER!' in answer to Tyrell's question about what he wants. Tonight, I discovered, he actually says: 'I want more life, father.' Now, I think fucker is better, but Pet says 'father' is better. She also thinks the Vangelis music dates the film but I think she's wrong about that too and told her she's on a warning. Let's see who the divorce court agrees with...

Watching it again tonight I was impressed that at no point does Blade Runner make any effort, beyond explaining what a replicant is, to explain the world it's set in, or give us a tour, it's just there right from the offing. Almost as if this was a noir film of the 40s. There's no showboating, no grandstanding special effect shots, just the story and a quick bit of scene setting. If it was made today, we'd have a long lingering shot of the city and dozens of pointless scene-setting shots to show us how amazing the film maker is. Thankfully, we had Ridley Scott who didn't need to show off, he knew he's the dog's bollocks at this stage of his career having already directed Alien.

I remember that when I first saw it, I left feeling that I would have happily sat there and watched another five hours more of the world of Blade Runner, maybe the camera could just have traveled down a few flights of Deckar's tower block and focused on another inhabitant of that world, I'd have been happy.

This is a truly amazing film. Perfect in fact. From the first shot to the last. And since this was the special edition, director's cut so we're left in no doubt that Deckard is a replicant, but then I've known that since I first saw the film. If you've never seen it, go and be amazed and if you have, go back and be reminded of how amazing it truly is. See, it's so good I said amazing three times in the same paragraph and i never do that.


Saturday, 13 December 2014



Directed by Peter Jackson, written by Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philappa Boyens and Guillermo Del Torro. Starring loads of people including Martin Freeman, Orlando Bloom, Luke Evans, Evangeline Lilly. 144 minutes long.

I slept through most of the last one, I remember there was a dragon in it, voiced by Bendy Dick Currant-Bun, also there was Stephen Fry and an old Dr. Who, added to that was that Irish bloke from Cold Feet and that one from Spooks who along with Arthur Dent from the Office and Magnetto (the old one, not the younger one) who were all trying to break into a mountain and steal a dragon's gold (think Goldfinger meets Ocean's 11 via Conan The Destroyer)  for some reason or another. Anyway, that one ended with the dragon flying out of his mountain home and heading for a lake-based town. This part, number three if you're counting, starts with lake home obliterated by dragon and Luke Evans in prison. Not to give too much away at this stage but dragon is dead 15 minutes later.

Hooray you say, I should be out of here in a minute or two, but no, god, fucking no, there's still another 130 minutes or two hours and ten minutes to go. And that's two hours and ten minutes of humans, Elves and Dwarves fighting Orcs, trolls and goblins. You're not allowed to ask questions either at this stage. No, 'hang on minute, what happened to the Spice Worms?' or, 'war-breed Orcs die very easily don't they?' or, 'Seriously, there's no way that many boring, old, overweight Drawves can hold off an entire Elvish army.' And not forgetting my favourite, 'By Christ I thought Lord of the Rings III: Return of the Twin Towers of the King's Fellowship had a lot of endings.' which I know isn't a question but you get the idea. Finally there's the, 'Say, isn't that guy the bad guy from Gaurdians of the Galaxy?' one too.

The battle goes on. And on, and on and on and on. And then on some more. Then it seems to end, but it's just a break before carrying on where it left before. Luckily it ends before your life does, but not after having gone on for a very long, long time. Much longer than is perhaps necessary as you, the viewer, don't really care about any of these stinking little, whining fuckers anyway, cos when the dust finally settles, only two of the stupid tossers is actually dead, which is amazing cos I seriously thought the old one and the really, really overweight one, was going to die. But no, most of the Dwarves survive to do fuck all another day, cos they're never heard of ever again. 

Anyway, since I don't really care about any of these big footed, tiny halfwits what did I think of the rest of it? Well, it's okay, nice effects but this is no Lord of the Rings. Since this was always going to be the case of second child syndrome, there's not much to say. I've seem much worse than this and I've seen a lot better. If you've seen the first two go then I suppose you might as well go and see this one and finish off the set, otherwise I'd probably give it a pass. There's no effort to explain what went before and even I who sat through most of it didn't quite know what the hell everything nor who everybody was.

Looked good, some nice action, earnest performances and it's directed by the man who did Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles and Braindead.