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1
28 Weeks Later... 2007,  R)
28 Weeks Later...
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE ZOMBIE FILM

Whoa! What an incredible film. A great sequel and a astounding achievement in it's own right. The night I went and saw this film, I was actually intending to see Pirates 3 but that session was completely sold out. So my friends and I settled for this. None of us had seen the first film in the franchise, ?28 Days Later?, but I had been told that you didn't have to, and I reaffirmed that for all my friends.

We went in and were all captivated by the opening scene, set in that warm, little country cottage where everything goes to hell. It really set the tone and pace for the film. What followed after the opening scene was arguably the best zombie film I have seen since ?Dawn of the Dead?. The real themes here were panic and reaction, displayed by the characters in their response to what was going on around them.

There were some very disturbing and intense scenes in this film, including the interaction between the husband and wife, where one of them became an ?Infected?. Then towards the end of the picture, when the female doctor is guiding the kids through the darkened subway, using the night vision scope on her rifle to guide the way. That moment really captured the fear inherited with darkness, claustrophobia and the unknown.

So I didn't get to see Pirates 3 that night, but instead saw a film I wasn't attending to see and had one hec of an experience. For the whole running time, I forgot I was watching a film; instead feeling like I was right there in the thick of it, and I went home with an upset feeling that if something like that virus being unleased on earth really happened one day, it would be just like the evens of ?28 Weeks Later?.

Bloody scary stuff!!!
2
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory 1995,  R)
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE ACTION FILM

When I was an early teen, my idol and role model was Steven Seagal. The fascination I had for this action/martial arts star came about when I went to see one of his movies at the age of 14. The movie was "Under Siege 2". My dad took me to our local cinemas to see it and it was the first real action film I saw at the cinemas. I walked out of that film absolutely blown away by it, especially the final scene.
Towards the end of the film, our hero learns that the train he is riding is on a collision course with another train carrying millions of gallons of gasoline. He knows this because the terrorists that have taken over his train (which he once again manages to avoid capture by) have set their locomotive on this path to destroy the train they hijacked, so they can cover their tracks and escape. Casey Ryback, the character played by Seagal, manages to disengage the carriages holding all the passengers, who were being held as hostages. He also gets his niece safely out of the train through the access hatch in the roof. She hangs onto the bottom of a ladder suspended from a helicopter, safely hovering above the scene and watches in horror as the two trains collide.

As the two locomotives smash head-on into each other, Ryback is thrown like a rag doll and tumbles down to the end of the carriage. He manages to get up and has one second to catch a glance of the diesel train of death tearing its way through the passenger train with no sign of stopping. He runs. Calm and cool as he always was in the face of danger, Ryback skilfully and tactfully runs towards the end of this train. Each carriage behind him is smashed to smithereens and plummets to the base of the canyon below. He knows he can't go back. The helicopter is waiting for him with its trusty ladder at the end of the very last carriage. Ryback runs forward with steadfast focus and determination. He is not going to let this be the end of him. He has come too far and fought too long to lose here and now. He killed the bad guys, stopped Washington from being blown up and rescued the hostages. All that was left for him to do now was to make it to that helicopter and spend the rest of his days with his niece, living in peace. Without about a second left to spare, Ryback makes it to the last carriage just as it was about to tip down into the dark hole beneath the bridge it was heading across. He leaps with a grunt to exert himself forward and grabs the bottom of the ladder with both his hands. He climbs up it with ease and makes it to the helicopter to see the remainder of both trains meet their demise in a gigantic ball of flames. And after all that, he still remains as cool and as calm as he had been since the entire ordeal began.

This final scene in the film is the one I remember the most after seeing it the first time about 15 years ago. Afterward, my dad and I walked through the shopping centre and I reeled in excitement as I recapped the whole movie to him as if he hadn't even seen it. We passed by a game arcade and I asked my dad if I could go in and play a "Shoot 'Em Up" game. He granted my wish and I got my play time. That night at home, I lay in bed wide awake, full of buzz and excitement as I discovered my first true idol. My love for action films of the blockbuster sort had begun. I would go on to see many more after that, but to this day none have had as much as an impact and influence on me as "Under Siege 2"
3
Hot Fuzz 2006,  R)
Hot Fuzz
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE ACTION/COMEDY FILM

"Have you ever fired your gun in the air and gone Ahh?" asks Danny, an over weight, clumsy police officer. The man being asked the question is Constable Nicolas Angel; a former London police officer, now working in the tiny village-town of Sandford. He is immensely frustrated by this question, as his new partner thinks police work is meant to be like 'Lethal Weapon'.

'Hot Fuzz' was more or less the follow up to 'Shaun of the Dead'; the very clever British comedy that took the zombie genre and flipped it upside down. Many zombie elements remained, but our hero in that story was a pathetic, loser of a man called Shaun, whose idea of a romantic evening was to take his girlfriend to the local pub - the Winchester. During the zombie plague he is joined by his mate Ed, an even more pathetic loser who Shaun is always standing up for. Needless to say, Shaun comes out triumphant and defeats the zombies.

In Hot Fuzz, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost return, and both play police officers, worlds apart. After being transferred from the London Police for being too good at his job and making the rest of the force look bad, Angel (Pegg) has no say and ends up in the sleepy town of Sandford. He tries to make a go of it, but with nothing to police and a partner who just asks endless questions to satisfy his belief that Angel is an amazing police man, he quickly gets down in the dumps.

However, this small town has a few dark secrets, and when a murderer shows up to pick off some of the towns citizens, and in violent fashion, Angel steps up and plays detective - as the towns two actual detectives couldn't give a rats arse. As Angel discovers the victims are linked in an intricate way, his suspicions take him to the heart of a mystery involving most of the town's citizens.

British humour really is in a league of its own, and Hot Fuzz pays respect to that while also adding some new elements to the formula. If you loved Shaun of the Dead you will want to see Hot Fuzz (if you haven't already). It was a great progression from the zombie outing to this tale, which will please fans of the team behind Shaun.

There are many great characters on display here. The actor's chosen to play them were the perfect choices; each of them embodies their characters, including all their unusual quirks and flaws, with creativity and charm. Just as in Shaun of the Dead, Pegg and Frost have great chemistry together, although their characters and the dynamics between them are much different this time around. Pegg has taken it up a notch to be a responsible, serious officer of the law, where as Frost is still the bumbling, hapless idiot he was in Shaun.

Movie buffs will love Hot Fuzz, as it references several poplar action movies, the two main ones being "Point Break" and "Bad Boys 2"; both of them extremely over-the-top, adrenaline charged action spectacles which go against everything police officers should do in the real world. At first, the references to these movies come in the form of Danny asking whether or not Angel has seen the movies. When he reveals that he hasn't, the two of the have a movie marathon and watch both films back to back. Towards the end of the film, as the two cops take on the villain(s), the references come thick and fast as certain camera angles and recognisable shots are entirely replicated. This was a clever touch to show just how deep into the case these cops get and their only way to survive the carnage is to imagine it's all just a movie.

When watching Hot Fuzz, sit back and be prepared for a hilarious and visually entertaining film, which combines great music, sharp writing and over the top action scenes to deliver what is definitely one of the best Action-Comedy films ever made. Well, in my opinion anyway!
4
The Aviator 2004,  PG-13)
The Aviator
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE BIO FILM

You've got to hand it to old Marty (Martin Scorsese)... he knows how to make a picture.

I'm not a big Leonardo DiCaprio fan but I do enjoy his movies. And it's only in recent years have I discovered the power of Scorsese's work. His films are gritty, violent and seem to thrive with the themes of power and struggle. Or the struggle to obtain power, maybe.

From the beginning of "The Aviator" (in an odd opening scene involving a young Howard Hughes and his mother) you are instantly intrigued. The film jumps into the future where we see Hughes take over Hollywood and then Aviation. His journey is fast and frantic one where he barely stops to look back or think about himself. The production values and cinematography bring back the era very well which takes us on a journey through time. One of the stand out scenes is when Hughes flies the plane that crashed in Beverly Hills and nearly killed him. It's full of horror and panic and really packs a punch.

The former recluse certainly did lead an interesting life and DiCaprio acquits himself very well. In the early years of his life, DiCaprio's performance mirrors that of his other works where he has played angry and passionate characters. But in the later years of the characters life, the actor shows us a side of his acting talents not yet seen before. I am talking of course, about the depiction of Hughes first run into hiding from the world. You really do feel the madness and craziness that the character must have felt and there were times that got me thinking and worried about how easy it is to really fall into that crack, where you lose your grip on reality.

Not everything is known about the life of The Aviator and the film shows that by presenting a real enigma to us. We don't know what really drove him to succeed or what caused him to go nuts! Was it the fact that he believed in having no limits in an era where independence hadn't really blossomed in society, or was it something deeper and darker, such as possible child hood abuse or a bad experience. Who knows?

But what I do know is that I really enjoyed this film and it is another fine example of how some creative thinking and dedication, mixed in with skill and know-how can turn a straight forward story into a great picture. Cate Blanchett was definitely deserving of her win for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscar's that year. Her depiction of Katherine Hepburn was amazing. Unfortunately for Scorsese that year, he didn't win Best Director... it would be another two years with the success of "The Departed" that finally got him the little golden statue.
5
Twister 1996,  PG-13)
Twister
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE DISASTER FILM

When Twister arrived in theatres back in 1996, it blew audiences away (excuse the pun) with its awesome special effects. They were realistic back then, and they still hold up pretty well today. At the time of its release, the "Disaster" film had been laying dormant for a while. It seemed that any possible disaster scenario that could have been portrayed in the movies had been done. But when "Jurassic Park" graced us with its presence three years before Twister, big, booming special effects films were all the rage and the pressure was on for the visuals to be as realistic as possible.

Twister starred the ever reliable Bill Paxton and the "on-the-rise" Helen Hunt, who had found fame with the hit TV series "Mad About You". In Twister, Paxton and Hunt play a divorced couple who are reunited for a day to realise their dream of studying tornados up close and personal - closer and more intensively than ever before. Following behind our two leading scientists, are a mix of Storm Chasers; outgoing, unorthodox, crazy individuals. The most memorable of these being the unusual Dusty, played by the then little known Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Twister is a thrill ride of a film. The story is simple, the dialogue is often cheesy and poorly written, but lets face it... that's not why you watch the film. It's all about those windy forces of nature tearing through the countryside, and lifting cars and buildings like pieces of paper. Once they hit the screen you can't help but be swept up in the carnage as the tornados get bigger and bigger, leading up to the monstrous F5 towards the end of the movie.

The film puts the audience in the path of the tornadoes like never before, and one of the most memorable shots from the film and of any film of the 90's was watching a yellow pick up truck drive furiously through a field, with a tornado following closely behind, smashing a barn to smithereens and scattering the remains every which way, forcing the truck to weave in and out of the falling debris. And let's not forget the flying cow!
6
Rear Window 1954,  PG)
Rear Window
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE MYSTERY FILM

Once I had watched the original "Psycho" I became something of a Hitchcock buff. As instructed by my dad at the time, I had to watch "The Birds" and "Rear Window" to get to know some of the directors other famous films.

Rear Window is a masterpiece in the build-up and execution of mystery and suspense. It is based primarily at the one location; a window. From this view, a wheel chair bound photographer named L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (Cary Grant) kills his time by gazing out from his room onto the adjoining apartments that also look down onto the courtyard below them. Observantly, he gets to know all about his neighbours and their daily routines. These include a dancer Jeff calls "Miss Torso" who practices her moves by her open window for all to see; a lonely woman he aptly calls "Miss Lonelyheart"; a songwriter; several married couples (including a newlywed couple who rarely leave their bedroom); a sculptor; and a man called Lars Thorwald - a jeweler who takes care of his bed-ridden wife.

At first, Jeff appears as something of a voyeur, as he tries to relinquish his intense boredom of being confined to his room because of a broken leg. Armed with a pair of binoculars and a camera with a telephoto lens, he watches his neighbours up close and personal without their awareness. His surveillance of others is filmed with such craft and clarity by Hitchcock that we the audience become spies with him; seeing things from his point-of-view as he surveys his fellow neighbours.
Occasionally, his girlfriend Lisa (played by the beautiful Grace Kelly) pays him a visit to lift his spirits, bring him lunch and listen to him go on about the movements of his neighbours. These two actors have great chemistry and the dynamics of their characters relationship is somewhat remnant of what is going on in the lives of his neighbours.

One night, Jeff is asleep in his chair by the open window on a hot, summer night. He hears a noise that wakes him up and looks out his window. It appears as if all his neighbours are in bed with the lights out... except for one of them. Directly across the way, Jeff hears Thorwald have an argument with his wife, then watches him proceed to clean a large knife, and make repeated trips in and out of his apartment with a suitcase. Jeff instantly suspects that Thorwald has murdered his wife, so with the aid of his girlfriend, personal carer and a detective, he starts to unravel the clues.

After watching Rear Window my obsession for the films of Alfred Hitchcock really kicked in. I followed this film by watching "The Birds" and on and on it went. As I began watching his other works, I was continued to be amazed at how sophisticated and head of his time Hitchcock was. There was a sly confidence about all his films, which can be seen in the performances of the actors. I got the sense they played their parts with so much style and nuance because they were safely in the hands of a master story teller. I imagined that Hitchcock treated his actors like royalty, but later I came across a quote the director once made "Actors should be treated like cattle". Hmm... so he only regarded them mildly? Still, he got the best out of them, which demonstrates Sir Alfred Hitchcock really was "The Master of Suspense".
7
Copycat 1995,  R)
Copycat
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE THRILLER

In the mid 90?s, there was a resurgence in films about serial killers. This was kick started by the fantastic ?Seven? starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt. In the years following, many tried to match or top Seven for its style, premise and shock factor, but few have done so. But around the same time Seven was released, another serial killer film came out. It was not as big as Seven and was seriously underrated and underappreciated. Unless you?ve seen it, you will have a great appreciation for it. I?m talking about the film ?Copycat?. Released only one month after Seven, Copycat cannot be seen as a... copy cat (excuse the pun) of Seven, as both films would have been green lighted and filmed closely together.

The film starred Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter. Weaver plays criminal psychologist Helen Hudson, specialising in serial killers. In the opening of the film, we see her address a university lecturer, giving us a rundown of some of the most infamous killers in American history, and emphasising that they could be anyone; your neighbour, co-worker, or even a family member. Unbeknownst to her during the lecture, one of the current serial killers on the prowl is waiting for her. His name is Daryll Lee Cullum, played by Harry Connick Jnr totally against his image. He does not kill her, but scares her enough to force Dr. Hudson into her home and develop agoraphobia. Flash forwards thirteen months, and Helen is still struggling with the experience where she met her most admiring psychopath face to face.

The story takes place in San Francisco, which in the past has had its own fair share of serial killers, including the Zodiac killer. It?s the perfect hunting ground for a new predator to strut his stuff. We don?t meet this killer face to face at first, instead we see him peering out of windows or through the lens of a camera, as he stalks his victims. His first three killings are all remnant of each other (as is usually the case with serial killers) and the police are struggling to catch him. Cue Holly Hunter as Inspector M.J. Monahan and her partner Inspector Getz. They approach Helen Hudson, asking for her professional advice and ideas on how to catch this killer. Helen is hesitant at first, but finds the strength to aid the police and quickly points out what they have failed to do so far; this new killer has been copying serial killers from the past.

The film then takes its major turn and sets the pace for its duration when a new victim appears, but killed in a way completely different to the first victims. Inspector Monahan suggests it?s unrelated, but Helen draws on her knowledge of other serial killers and uncovers that this murderer is now copying a different serial killer from the past. This baffles Helen and the police, as this is completely unheard of with serial killers ? they usually stick to the same style and routine. And so, the game is set and Dr. Hudson and Inspector Monahan work together to decipher the clues, follow the pattern and stop this killer? before they become his next targets.

Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter have a great chemistry together, which is surprising as they are two very diverse actors with a different repertoire of films and characters behind them. The rest of the cast acquit themselves well, and an even bigger surprise here was the casting of Harry Connick Jnr in the role of another serial killer, who pops up in the film a couple of times to aid the search. Being known as a jazz singer and musician, Connick immerses himself into the role of a sadistic, red-neck gruff so well you can often forget who you?re watching.
Copycat is an entertaining and well-made film. The story is gripping, filmed with a smart, sophisticated and stylish approach.
8
Scary Movie 4 2006,  PG-13)
Scary Movie 4
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE SPOOF MOVIE

There was a time in the mid ?00?s when mainstream movies struggled to make the box office returns that the past few years had generated, and that was because of several reasons; unoriginal material, piracy and the fact that people just didn?t want to sit in a movie theatre anymore. I believe cinema attendance is back up again, but around 2005/2006 it was at an all-time low. People were asking themselves ?Why get dressed up, go out and sit in a theatre when you can have virtually the same experience at home in your pajamas with a flat screen TV, surround sound and a DVD player? Well I say SHAME on all you people. Have we really forgotten what watching movies is all about? It's about escape, about laughing, cheering, crying or sitting on the edge of your seat in a dark theatre, amongst total strangers but feeling connected to them through sharing a good viewing experience.

In 2006, I went and saw ?Scary Movie 4? on a public holiday so of course the theatre was packed, mostly by kids and teens that were making the most of their day off from school. The session I went to was almost full and I had one of the best times at the movies since seeing ?The Nutty Professor? ten years earlier. The roaring laughter coming from everybody inside the theatre, really made for a fun movie experience, included with a large popcorn and Coke!

So what I'm stressing to all you people who like to buy pirated movies and brag about it to everyone else, is STOP! Do you know how many people have lost their jobs in the film industry because of piracy? Breaking into that business is near impossible, and although most people who do so are driven by either money, fame, the good life or just the buzz of making movies, they are making movies for us. They allow us to escape the dark and unpredictable times we live in, turn off the brain and rise above the limits of reality by living through the characters on screen for a couple of hours ?Scary Movie 4? is a prime example of this. It takes the Mickey out of Pop Culture and makes it accessible for all, and like I said there is no better way to experience a movie then in a theatre with lots of people you don't know. At the end, you'll walk out smiling, inspired or changed and everyone around you is feeling the same thing. How cool is that?

Now, isn't that more tempting than watching a poor quality movie on a burnt disc purchased from a street market that when you buy it, is known to fund terrorism? I rest my case.

Oh, and Scary Movie 4 is very, very, very funny.
9
Stephen King's It 1990,  Unrated)
Stephen King's It
GENRE REVIEWS - FAVE TV MOVIE

My favourite book of all time is 'It' by Stephen King. I first read it in 2004, and have since read it a further two times. If you think you can commit to the 1000+ pages, I highly recommend you read this story. And I?m not alone in that suggestion. It is still on the Top 100 List of Best Selling Books in most parts of the world, and is recommended by many critics as a novel you must read in your life. The scope, imagination and creativity on display in this mammoth book are just astounding. I believe it is Stephen King?s finest work, even though I haven?t read all his stuff. But before I read the book, I saw the TV movie that was made in the early 90?s and scared the crap out of a lot of people for one main reason ? that bloody clown.

Film adaptations of Stephen King?s novels have been a mix of hit and miss over the years. It seems that his short stories or ?novellas? tend to make the best films, i.e. The Shawshank Redemption and Stand by Me (book title ?The Body?) being among the best. As his novels are so long, detailed and heavy on plot, the movie versions can be difficult to adapt. And f you?ve read a Stephen King book, you will know that his horror tales are better reads than viewing experiences. This is because we all interpret words differently, and as I was reading It, I pictured some terrifying and disturbing things.

Stephen King?s It the miniseries was released in 1990 and starred a cast of television well known?s. They condensed the book into a 3 hour film and split it into two parts. It follows the story of seven adults who are called on to reunite in the town they grew up in as kids. They are asked to return on the strength of a promise to deal with It, if It ever came back. It being the monster that occupies the sewers and drains of a small Maine town called Derry. This monster can take on any form, tapping into the fear of its prey to assimilate what scares them most. However, It usually showed up in the guise of a dancing clown, called Pennywise.

As the adults receive the call that beckons them to face their past, they start to remember their childhood; how they all met, outrunning local bully Henry Bowers who terrorized them all, and of course? how they first encountered It. The children form a club ? The Loser?s Club - made up of seven outcasts. Together, they battle It to prevent It from killing any more kids in the town. They believe they have It beaten, but swear to come back to Derry if It did return. Thirty years later, the monster does come back and these seven adults who would rather forget their childhood, must confront their past once more and tap into that power and magic they discovered in their youth, to stop It once and for all.

The portrayal of It in the form of Pennywise the Clown by Tim Curry is what made this film what it was. It was scary, funny, demented and conniving. I believe many people developed a fear of clowns after seeing this film? that?s how effective Tim Curry?s performance was.

I?m guessing most people have seen It at some point, probably when it first came on television in the early 90?s. If you?re about my age, you would have watched it as a child, even when your parents told you not to. If you?ve only viewed it once, that?s enough to remember the images of that clown with the red, fuzzy hair and ghostly-pale face, peering up from a storm drain offering a balloon to a young boy in yellow rain coat? and as the boy reaches down to grab it, the clown utters those fateful words before grabbing his arm and pulling him into the dark depths of the sewer, ?We all float down here? and you?ll float too?. Scary stuff.

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