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01 Fifty Shades of Grey Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita OraFifty Shades of Grey: when a fumbling Plain Jane student interviews a perverted and tormented young millionaire both of their lives are oh so romantically changed forever. Firstly; this is the least sexy film you’ll ever see about kinky sex, mostly due to the fact that everything else about it is a total turn off. The dialogue is atrocious; the wannabe racy/saucy lines don’t even come close to innuendo, although with the source material it didn’t really stand a chance. Secondly, the colouring is laughably basic: everything is depressingly washed out and grey (we get it!) except for sexy red things like mood lighting, cars, and arse-smacking paddles. The films is unashamedly uninterested in doing anything even remotely interesting with any of the characters, plot points or even the technical aspects. You want a better love story? Watch Twilight. You want to see some kinky bondage? Browse the internets. You want to see a proper film about this stuff? Watch ‘The Secretary‘, which is better than this in literally every way. As it was obviously going to be a number one smash, Fifty Shades of Grey never had to try, so it didn’t. A ham-fisted, disappointingly fist-free softcore movie with boringly-acted one-dimensional characters on a non-story that takes forever to go anywhere.

Score: 0.5/10

02 Fifty Shades of Grey Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle, Marcia Gay Harden, Victor Rasuk, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora,

Con Air: a released prisoner (former U.S. Ranger) gets caught up in a plane hijacking carried out by the criminal cargo. This is one of the best examples of ridiculous, over-the-top 90s action films (homage to 80s). There’s something about the huge fiery explosions, big loud action and epic weeping / heroic guitar licks that plunges me right into these films. Cage, despite being laughably shit and doing THE worst accent in the history of cinema, holds the film together surprisingly well. Malk is the perfect villain – whose calmness only makes him more terrifying – and his band of crazy henchmen are all gratuitously evil. Cusack is good, but his dashing young looks always make him feel miscast as an authority figure. Everything towards the end of the film (In Vegas) is beyond excessive, ludicrous, and poorly cut – but I guess that’s Vegas for you! Held together by the supercast this is a solid, big action, big entertainment, film that still holds up well.

Score: 7/10

Alice Creed: Two men kidnap a woman and demand a ransom from her wealthy father. This is the very definition of a ‘tight’ film; 3 actors, handful of locations, and a simple story that’s jam-packed with universal drama – it doesn’t get more basic than this. All three actors are great, but I can’t help but feel that the more seasoned Marsan was upstaged by both youngsters. Special points to Arterton, who is still on her way up, but isn’t afraid to appear in a risky film like this. The story – and its development – are both strong, aided by a few tasty reveals; the ending’s also solid, and keeps you guessing. The opening 10 minutes is bizarre with almost no dialogue and a very, very unsettling vibe. Alice Creed is a fantastic ‘little’ gem packed with more drama than most blockbusters – just stay away from any more reviews (almost any plot info would be a spoiler) and capture this for yourself!

Score: 9/10


City Island: Centers ’round a prison guard correctional officer that secretly wants to become an actor, and many other secrets within his dysfunctional family. Despite being a family-based ‘comedy of errors’ (which should be boring by now) this totally works, mostly because of its brilliant little story, that remains interesting, and never loses the pace. It’s also funnier than a lot of all-out ‘comedies’, with a whole heap of scenes and jokes that range from observational to the absurd, to the cringey – peaking in a fantastic audition, and final 15 minutes. Although you usually watch actors trying play inexperienced actors through your fingers Garcia plays a total blinder here, going the full range and nailing every scene. Everyone else in the film is also great, nobody lets the side down. The only minor downer is the convenient-yet-convoluted plot – although the film needs it, and it does work itself out in the end. There’s also a bizarre feeder/BBW side story that isn’t 100% utilised or wrapped up. City Island will no doubt prove to be a sleeper DVD hit, as it’s an absolute stunner of an indie gem, that strikes a great balance between natural comedy and emotive moments.

Score: 8/10

Tomorrow Never Dies: when a UK ship sinks in Chinese waters all is not what it seems. After some rummaging about 007 uncovers a crazy man’s plan to start WWIII, for exclusive media coverage and ratings!

Genuinely one of the more average days in the life of James Bond...

Another top-quality intro side-mission in the form of Bond gatecrashing a terrorist arms bazaar where he kicks the shit out of everyone, blows the shit out of everything (with the help of a jet fighter) then out-flies the shit out of a trained pilot; or as M calls it ‘doing his job’

Hands down the coolest scene in the film!

This opening really sets the bar for Tomorrow Never Dies and the action throughout is second to none; soundproof studio fist fight, newspaper factory punch up, RC car chase, Hong Kong building traversing and bike chase, Jackie Chan inspired technical Kung Fu fight, stealth boat finale… the last three films have such a great action track record!

Stomper - yet another henchman in the mould of From Russia's 'Red'.

Bonds era-specific calling card for the 1990s appears to be technology. Not only is it becoming more prevalent in the stories, but one of GoldenEye‘s main baddies was a – then – rare and mysterious computer H4x0r! Upping the ante here, we have the visual stereotype of a IT virgin (fat, beard, probably plays Warhammer in his mum’s basement) branded a “Techno Terrorist” and given the same billing as the physically perfect and ruthless Stamper. As far as henchmen go, must try harder.

China's answer to 007, waving him on from the sidelines

Q branch also rolls along with the times, producing two of the best gadgets to come out of the department: the burglar-and-bulletproof RC BMW, and the Phone/Taser/Car Control/Fingerprint scanner. What a combo! This is the very outer-limits of Bond gadgetry in that they seem completely plausible, but so ridiculously cool that they couldn’t possibly exist.

Ladies and Gentlemen - you're looking at the perfect James Bond here!

Brosnan pulls out what’s probably my single favourite Bond performance. He amplifies all of the traits displayed in GoldenEye,  honing in on becoming even smoother, smarter and deadlier. Biggest improvements are the action, and dry one-line deliveries – “They’ll print anything these days” is delivered absolutely perfectly. This performance looks as effortless as the horizontal Bond controlling the car from the back seat of his BMW.

Not unlike the gadets, carver treads that line between rediculous and real

The supporting cast are all overshadowed by Pryce as Elliot Carver – who is fantastic at being restrained and subdued, yet ridiculously theatrical (especially in his eyebrows, scheme and super-ridiculous typing). Despite little screen time Teri Hatcher does well to convince us that she’s known Bond from way back.

Bottoms up. Teri makes an arse of herself!

With big GoldenEye boots to fill Tomorrow Never Dies is every bit as good a film, although it does switch the character development for more straigh-up action set pieces. There are plenty of hits, but it’s not without a few misses – the most cringe-worthy being a Mel Brooks style parody hitman. Another rock-solid stripped down Bond film.

Score: 7/10

This guy could genuinely walk straight into an Austin Powers film

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Elliot Carver – dastardly pantomime baddie with insane delusions. 7
Henchmen: Stomper – another Red-Esque brute / Gunther: Fat beardy hacker / Weird-faced hitman. 6
Bond Girl: Mrs Carver – beautiful. Lucy Lui – hot, feisty and hold her own well. 8
Action: Terrorist Bazaar / Soundproof Studio / Newspaper Printer / Hong Kong HQ escape / Motorbike Chase / Kung Fu / Stealth Boat. 9

Handcuffed on a bike - made for some good 'out of the box' moments

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The Tourist: an American tourist has a bad case of mistaken identity when the police and Russian gangsters believe he’s a wanted criminal. Step back for a second and consider the following: biggest actress in Hollywood; biggest actor in Hollywood; Oscar-winning director; writer of Usual Suspects; re-make of an interesting French film; and Timothy Dalton! On paper this is cinematic gold, however, on celluloid, it’s so far off the mark. To call the casting of the mains ‘stale’ would be an insult to the word – Jolie plays a seductive siren (good English accent though!) and Depp is an eyebrow-wagging bumbling idiot. Both appear to turn up, force themselves through the motions, then laugh to the bank. What’s worse is that the stronger supporting cast all share a handful of short scenes. The slow-paced story uncomfortably meanders towards an unsurprising finale – that doesn’t make any sense in hindsight. Not unlike The American, this is more of a throwback to the classic thriller films (than their trailers would suggest), but where Clooney actually acts the part, a vacant Jolie just stares on as the lens slowly zooms in on high-fashion clad arse, legs and neck – a big indicator of how weak everything else about the film is. On the plus side it’s efficiently shot, classically lit and what you see of Venice looks nice. The final product is OK, and just watchable but if you want to see Jolie frolic with some Russians and a few plot twists, Salt was far better.

Score: 3.5/10