Category Archives: Films – 2.5 stars

Blade: Trinity

Blade kills a whole bunch of vampires, including a really big bad one. Only this time, Blade’s got buddies! The end.

Whereas Blade II took a detour into gory horror, this third film introduces a lighter note in the form of Hannibal King, played by Ryan Reynolds. You wouldn’t guess it from his grim appearance on the movie posters, but King is the comic relief. He’s like one of the Buffy gang, only with more swearing. In fact, he’s the best thing in the film. Blade looks cool but is bland; Whistler’s daughter (Jessica Biel) has got nifty toys and good moves; but it’s King who has all the charisma, and all the best lines. (Stephen at Tagline anticipated this some time ago.)

Lara Croft, Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life

A bit more plot (not that it’s great) and fewer gratuitous set pieces (not that there aren’t any) make this a better film than the first one (not that that’s hard). It benefits greatly from having Lara’s former lover Terry Sheridan (Gerard Butler) around as a parner/sidekick–at least this allows for a small measure of characterisation. The final act, which is only ever hinted at in the trailers, could have been rather good, but is let down by an enormously cliched showdown.

The film is also topped off with nine minutes of credits. Nine minutes. On a 103 minute film. I had to double-check the DVD to make sure I had the numbers right, but the counter didn’t lie. Nine minutes. Really.

Around the World in 80 Days (2004)

Silly and muddled, but not without a certain amount of goofy charm. The exposition to keep the plot moving is hopelessly leaden, and the straightforward comedy scenes are forced and clumsy. It’s the slapstick action scenes that work best, and produce the most laughs.

The script feels like it has been brutally hacked about to a) recognize Jackie Chan as the star power behind the film with a sub-plot equal in stature to the main story, b) accommodate the numerous cameos necessary to rival the 1950s David Niven version, and c) still fit within the 2-hour format. Personally, I didn’t mind seeing Passepartout as a kick-ass kung fu hero returning to China to save his village, but it’s the cameos that dragged the film down. There’s an easy 20 minutes that could have been spent better on smoothing out the plot jumps, or on the relationships between the characters. As it is, it feels like Steve Coogan and Jackie Chan are acting in seperate movies.


Interesting story, but clumsily told. There are too many moments of plain stupidity on the part of characters who are supposed to know better. These moments may drive the plot forward, but they do so at the expense of credibility. And when the historical facts of Bletchley Park are so fascinating in their own right, it waters down the film’s verisimilitude. I kept wanting to see more of the background, and less of the protagonists. Dougray Scott gives an uneven performance as the troubled genius; Jeremy Northam has his sly, superior charm turned all the way up to 11, which is too high for the tone of the film; but Kate Winslet has her dowdy clerk-heroine tuned just right. Overall: it made me want to go and re-read Cryptonomicon.

Taking Lives

Bog standard serial killer thriller. It has one (1) jump out of your seat moment and one (1) twist in the tail, but otherwise nothing else of special note. The fact that it’s set in Montréal is nice, but apart from the pretty city scenes, utterly irrelevant. I’m sure that the novel the film is based on gave the city a loving treatment, and provided a splendid backdrop for complex characters, but any richness that might have been present in the book completely fails to translate into film. I’m sure there must be some originality left in the psycho serial killer genre, but it sure ain’t here.

Also, why do I keep getting Angelina Jolie and Ashley Judd mixed up?

Austin Powers In Goldmember

Funny but unspectacular. Lots of good scenes with memorable gags and one-liners, but plenty of overworked lesser characters, too, and most of the set pieces suffer from excessive build-up. Much of the humour is self-conscious, with a nod and a wink to the audience, which is fun once or twice, but by the end of the film is just plain tiresome. Not really my cup of tea.

The Watcher

Lacklustre thriller with Keanu Reeves as a serial killer, and James Spader as a traumatised FBI agent who fled from California to Chicago after almost catching him, and losing a victim in the process. But now the killer has followed him there, and is intent on tormenting him even further. Cat and mouse chases, mind games, and some severely naff explosion “special” effects at the end. You get the picture. It whiles away the evening, though.

Brother Bear

Relatively poor Disney animation about a man who is magically turned into a bear to teach him a lesson about brotherhood and love. In places it’s funny, sad, and touching, but mostly it’s just very heavy-handed. It’s about LOVE, right? LOVE can be just as powerful and important as wisdom and courage. Be one with nature, young man/bear, and all will be well with the world. I know I’m not the film’s intended audience (Alex is, and he enjoyed it to the point where he was been pretending to be a little bear all last week), but surely even children can see that this film treads on the wrong side of the line between innocent and naïve.


Dumbed-down medieval time-travel romp. A group of archaeologists go back to 1357 to rescue a stranded colleague. They find themselves thrown headlong into a battle between the English and French at the village of Castleguard. Naturally, there is a lot of splitting up so that everyone can chase after each other, or get killed, or both. (Oh, and a pretty nifty castle siege with trebuchets and flaming arrows.) Meanwhile, back in the present, someone has blown up the time machine, and the geeks are trying to put it back together before the deadline for the archaeologists’ return arrives. It’s all a bit hurried, forced, and obvious. From the moment the group of time travellers is selected, you know who’s going to make it back, who’s going to die, and who’s going to get stranded. The film has got good pace, but no soul.