Black Sea (2014)

Black Sea Movie Review

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Black Sea Movie Review

Black Sea is a 2014 British thriller film directed by Kevin Macdonald and starring Jude Law. It is about a group of people going on an underwater expedition in search of treasure.

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What’s the sea bed like?

It’s like butter made of dog shit

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Black Sea Movie Review

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Every aspect of this movie is underwhelming and hugely disappointing. I expected much, much more from its intriguing and entertaining premise. The story never realized its potential and the characters are all extremely forgettable and incredibly poorly developed. But what is the worst is the thriller aspect because all of the action sequences are pretty uninspired and even annoying at times with all the yelling and cursing. If the film focused more on the adventure instead of stupid action and thriller, it would have turned out much better.

The saving grace is the acting which is quite solid and even stupendous. Jude Law is remarkable here in a role different for him than usual along with his new look. And the rest of the cast did an okay job. But the performances fail to be memorable because they act the characters which are quite poor and forgettable.

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Black Sea Movie Review

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As for the pacing and entertainment factor, it is low. The movie could have been extremely engaging, but it is rather tedious in the end. The direction is also pretty ordinary, never rising above that level. As for the cinematography and imagery, they are all weak. Having in mind it is underwater, Black Sea somehow managed to not get that to full use, instead using poor photography and very dark approach with sometimes too bleak picture to see.

Black Sea has quite solid performances and a great premise, but that premise never gets proper treatment as the end product is tedious instead of entertaining, poorly filmed instead of having striking imagery, it has poor characters which are all forgettable and the action and thriller sequences are all annoying and weak. it is a huge disappointment overall and a failure on many levels.

My Rating – 2.5

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Frequency (2000)

Frequency Movie Review

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Frequency Movie Review

Frequency is a 2000 science fiction thriller film starring Dennis Quaid. It is a film that had potential, but is ultimately just okay.

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I’m still here, Chief

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Frequency Movie Review

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Yes, the film’s plot and approach are obviously influenced by ‘The Sixth Sense’ in some capacity and overall it isn’t all that original when you think about it. You have a son calling his dad from the future to save him from his certain death and then that changes everything and leads to some pretty grand consequences.

It’s a typical time travel storyline that is implausible and mostly just used for the thrills which is why the movie succeeds much more so as a thriller than as a science fiction work. The film has its heartwarming moments between father and son, but it also has some overly sentimental scenes and the entire baseball angle was just cringe-worthy to me. And the ending is of course hilariously silly in a bad way.

Jim Caviezel gave a pretty solid performance and Dennis Quaid is expectedly competent in this fine role. Definitely the acting is one of the film’s strongest points, but the direction is uninspired which is to be expected from an unknown director.

Frequency is also very weakly paced and goes on for too long. It is a somewhat entertaining film that is fun and exciting at times, but only in the middle as the ending is ridiculous and the beginning is way too slow and frankly very dull. I also found its crime angle very boring and typical and it did not add anything new to the table.

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Frequency Movie Review

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The movie definitely struggles at its tones and approach and I am afraid that it mostly failed in its execution. It is a passable entertainment that is sure to please sci-fi thriller enthusiasts, but I myself was disappointed as I expected much bigger things from it and ultimately did not get it. It is one of those genre flicks that are perfectly fine, but too forgettable and typical to leave a lasting impression. A definition of a three-star film for sure.

Frequency is definitely very well acted, it is exciting and thrilling at times and some scenes are heartwarming, but some are also overly sentimental, it never succeeds as a science fiction film and is much better off as a thriller plus the beginning is dull and the ending is silly leading to a fine, but forgettable and unoriginal genre film.

My Rating – 3

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The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

The Manchurian Candidate Movie Review

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The Manchurian Candidate Movie Review

The Manchurian Candidate is a 1962 political thriller film directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh and Angela Lansbury. It’s overrated.

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It’s a terrible thing to hate your mother.

But I didn’t always hate her.

When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her

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The Manchurian Candidate Movie Review

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I have almost the same opinion of The Manchurian Candidate as I have of another 60s political thriller ‘Z’. Both are competently made films and very well acted, but both are dull. But this one isn’t frenetic but rather opposite – it is excruciatingly slow paced, uninvolving and ultimately it bored me so much. Political movies should appeal to everyone including non-fans such as myself and this one failed miserably at that.

The story has its moments, but it is mostly not great, certainly not deserving the praise that it received. It truly is one of the most overrated films from this period and of course it came from probably the weakest film year ever which is 1962. It also isn’t really a thriller, but it’s also not a drama. It has a conflicting nature to it and was to me just too static to enjoy.

Janet Leigh is very memorable and beautiful here. Laurence Harvey is also quite solid. Angela Lansbury as the villain killed it and she is the standout here and probably the only legitimately great reason to see this movie as her performance is truly remarkable as is her character. But all of the other characters are throwaway, dull entities for whom I never cared about at all.

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The Manchurian Candidate Movie Review

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The Manchurian Candidate is well shot, but lacks score which was critical to sell those thriller sequences and thus it fails as a political thriller. It looks nice, but should have also sounded nice. The performances are very good, but John Frankenheimer’s direction not so much. It felt unprofessional and ultimately a problem the movie never overcame. The pacing is, as I said, beyond sluggish and the runtime is actually way too long as it is slightly over two hours but the plot never needed that much time. In the end, this is one giant overrated mess that isn’t a bad movie per say, but it is so weak and riddled with flaws that it frustrated me along with being a highly tedious experience.

The Manchurian Candidate is very well acted with Angela Lansbury giving a standout, memorable performance, but the film is overlong, static in quality, so incredibly dull and never at all engaging or thrilling and thus it fails as a thriller and it is one very overrated film in my opinion.

My Rating – 3

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Z (1969)

Z Movie Review

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Z Movie Review

Z is a 1969 Algerian political thriller film directed by Costa-Gavras. It is one of the most overrated foreign films of the sixties.

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Always blame the USA,

even if you are wrong!

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Z Movie Review

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I am not the biggest fan of political thrillers and this movie just wasn’t engaging enough to overcome my apathy for this particular genre. I realize that this story is very important, not to mention highly relatable even to this day, but the way it was presented was frustrating and honestly quite off-putting at times.
The movie deals with a lot of characters and not one of them is remotely memorable and you will most definitely forget about them pretty shortly after seeing it. The acting is fine, but I wanted less characters and better character development.
Z’s pacing is horrible. It is at times quite dull and boring, yet also frequently annoyingly frenetic to the point of becoming boring in and of itself. I dislike a lot of action and this action, although it happens in real life, is executed with such annoying directorial choices and especially off-putting cinematography that it frustrated me quite a bit.
Z is also very much a product of its time. Whether through cinematography, direction or those genre thrills, the movie is obviously dated. I can see how great it must have been for late 60s and early 70s audiences and critics, but its power is blunted by now.

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Z Movie Review

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Z received the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and it is the first foreign movie to also be nominated for Best Picture and needless to say, I disagree with that wholeheartedly. It is an extremely overrated movie that is just okay and nothing more than that.

Z is one of 60s most overrated foreign films which deals with an important story, but presents it in a very off-putting manner with sometimes sluggish, yet at times also frenetic pacing. It is never as engaging as it should have been, it is very dated and a total bore from start to finish.

My Rating – 3

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Unbreakable (2000)

Unbreakable Movie Review

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Unbreakable Movie Review

Unbreakable is a 2000 superhero thriller film directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Robin Wright. It is a mediocrity.

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Do you know what the scariest thing is?

To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here.

That’s… that’s just an awful feeling

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Unbreakable Movie Review

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I really disliked this movie and it is the director’s most overrated films that thankfully never reached more than its mild cult status. The plot is such a mish-mash of ideas bundled together into an incoherent mess that it thoroughly annoyed me. I guess I am frustrated by superhero movies pretending to be something they are not and this one is certainly guilty of that.
It is some sort of a superhero film, but it also tries to be a drama and a thriller and it fails miserably in every one of those genres and tones. Yes, it is that weak. The story certainly had potential, but it was ruined by awful execution, bland characters and one of the most obvious twist endings ever.
The characters are so bland and dull that they got on my nerves. The performances are solid, but Jackson’s character is an obvious villain from the start, the wife is boring and the main character is entirely forgettable and almost like a non-existent entity and a shell of a person. The romantic scenes were thoroughly unnecessary and they just plodded an otherwise boring and slow movie.

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Unbreakable Movie Review

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Yes, Unbreakable is so slow that it bored me to death. Nothing ever happens in the first half and whenever it tries to be serious, it just manages to bore. It is a pretentious mess for which Shyamalan is certainly the one to blame as the script and dialogue are admittedly okay. I was bored and frustrated immensely by this movie and it is one of the worst films I’ve seen recently.

Unbreakable had potential as the premise and dialogue are admittedly okay, but the characters are ridiculously bland and dull, its twist ending is beyond obvious and it is such a pretentious and thoroughly unsuccessful mix of genres which was very slow and extremely boring to watch.

My Rating – 2.5

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Split (2017)

Split Movie Review

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Split Movie Review

Split is a 2017 thriller horror film directed M. Night Shyamalan and starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy. It is such a stupendously good horror flick.

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The broken are the more evolved

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Split Movie Review

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It follows a man with a multiple personality disorder (he has 23 personalities and a potential 24th) who kidnaps and imprisons three teenage girls in an underground facility. The plot is pretty good and actually very original. This disorder is tailor-made for the horror genre and I am glad that Shayamalan realized that and made such a good use of it.

I thought the first half was excellent, very intriguing and quite suspenseful. I really liked all the different scenarios and it was a lot of fun watching all those different personalities emerge. However, the second half disappointed me. I did like the ending as it connected this movie with ‘Unbreakable’ so well and left a lot of room for a possible sequel to both movies. But what I didn’t like is the film’s refusal to show us the other personalities and not just the eight or so out of 24. That was a missed opportunity.

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Split Movie Review

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I also didn’t like some of the typical horror trappings that prevailed in the third act. Of course the protagonist survives and she was the toughest physically of the three and the other two girls were typical disposable teenagers so they had to die. I also disliked those flashbacks as they were kind of pointless.

So the girls I disliked more or less and that old lady psychologist was also frustrating because she was too much of an idiot and I really didn’t want her to die. But Kevin is great and he more than made up for the troublesome female characters. Such a fascinating character, so well established and developed. Of those different personalities, Hedwig is the most memorable and of course The Beast was quite menacing.

James McAvoy gave one of the year’s finest performances in Split. He is absolutely fantastic and again proves how hugely underrated and talented he is. He sold every single personality here and was believable in every single one of these roles. He killed it in such a difficult, multiple-part performance and is the standout of the whole movie. I also liked Anya Taylor-Joy here, but she was much weaker than him for sure.

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Split Movie Review

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So Split is pretty well directed and is actually my favourite of the director’s films. The dialogue is solid and the film deals with a lot of interesting issues and even though it doesn’t quite manage to explore all of them, it still provides for a rich, intriguing and clever experience. It succeeds as a pretty good thriller and it is even more so a thriller than a horror as the second half really didn’t feature enough scares, but at least the first one had some pretty atmospheric scenes. It doesn’t quite utilize on this winner premise to the fullest degree, but it succeeds more often than not and it was mostly a pretty satisfactory little film.

Split definitely is a missed opportunity in its second half as it doesn’t showcase more of those 23 personalities plus it suffers from some typical horror trappings there, but the first half is very good and the ending is quite interesting. The premise is amazing and the main character is so fascinating plus the movie deals with some interesting issues. But the biggest reason to see it lies in James McAvoy’s performance which is absolutely fantastic and he crushed it in such a demanding role, proving how talented and underrated he is in the process.

My Rating – 4

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Spellbound (1945)

Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Spellbound Movie Review

Spellbound is a 1945 noir mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. It is a pretty good, interesting Hitchcock experiment.

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Women make the best psychoanalysts until they fall in love.

After that they make the best patients

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Now I have read that Hitchcock himself dissed the movie decades later and truly the film isn’t a favorite nowadays. But I disagree with that notion. It is certainly far from his best works and it isn’t a great film, but it is still a pretty good film which is pretty on par with most of his other 40s efforts.

The movie is criticized for being dated, but to me the film is pleasantly old-fashioned in its approach and I loved personally the emphasis on traditional mystery and a strong reliance on psychology. Whether or not the film is scientifically accurate is a non-issue as movies, especially thrillers, aren’t supposed to be scientifically correct. I personally really liked the theme of psychoanalysis here and it was very well explored and even fascinating to hear about.

The film is a bit too cozy and less ambitious and dangerous than his usual fare, but that meant that it was original and different. The mystery is so well established and I loved the path to untangling it. It is a well written, mysterious and atmospheric film that works great as a noir mystery with some good thriller elements.

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

There are three highlights here. One is the dream sequence done by Salvador Dali. That was of course authentic and unforgettable visually. Another is of course the childhood flashback which is beautiful and such a great, important moment. And the third is that ending with the gunshot being fired at the audience being very inventive.

Gregory Peck is very good in Spellbound, but Ingrid Bergman is the standout here. She gave such a strong, subtle performance and she should have been nominated for her work here. She plays such a strong female character who is a doctor and who eventually saves her man. That is why the film is not sexist as some remarked, but rather opposite than that and modern.

Spellbound has some evident problems. One is the pacing which is at times slow. The entire first half should have been trimmed down a bit and some scenes are too slow and even dull. I also didn’t quite follow the murder storyline quite as well as the childhood drama one. It was a bit too convoluted.

But other than that, it is a very good film. One of the character highlights is Alex Brulov played so well by Michael Chekhov. His somewhat sexist and full of himself character was a lot of fun and he made me laugh a couple of times.

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Spellbound Movie Review…………………………………………………..

The film features very strong dialogue. Some of it wasn’t as great, but most of the conversations and discussions were very interesting and even fascinating in subject. The film has such an interesting psychological, dreamlike quality to it emphasized by gorgeous cinematography and many excellent shots and beautifully constructed sequences. Hitch’s direction is very strong here. The film isn’t as good as ‘Lifeboat’ or ‘Shadow of a Doubt‘, but it is better than overrated ‘Foreign Correspondent’ and it is a very underrated 40s effort from the director.

Spellbound is sometimes too convoluted and it drags in some scenes, but it is mostly a very intriguing, different kind of noir mystery with a strong emphasis on psychology. Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman are an excellent pair here with her in particular delivering a very strong performance. The film is intriguingly dreamlike in quality fueled by gorgeous cinematography and a couple of unforgettable sequences such as the gunshot ending, the childhood flashback and a weird dream scene done by Salvador Dali. It is a pretty underrated Hitchcock film.

My Rating – 4

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Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

Shadow of a Doubt is a 1943 psychological thriller noir film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. It is such a flawed, yet respectable movie.

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He thought the world was a horrible place.

He couldn’t have been very happy, ever.

He didn’t trust people. Seemed to hate them.

He hated the whole world. You know,

he said people like us had no idea what the world was really like

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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It is about a teenage girl who learns that her uncle who has just come to visit their family is actually a murderer. This plot is quite standard and there is nothing truly original here. The same goes for some of its execution, mostly the first half. I just knew everything that would happen as the story is predictable and you know from the start that he is the criminal.
But still that aspect of the darkness lurking beneath the light is quite fascinating here. The movie is incredibly dark and that is why it is probably the only noir film from Hitchcock, a sort of noir as it has some of those elements for sure. This idyllic little town seems great at first, but then we witness how seedy some of its parts are and of course we realize that the man who seemed wonderful and kind at first is actually a cold, calculated killer.
I liked his character quite a bit and I honestly liked Charlie too. She was a bit too naive and good-natured, but that perfectly clashed with her uncle’s personality and all of the scenes between the two are terrific. I loved the final scene in the movie as it showcases how despite everything some people just cannot stop loving their relatives and I really liked the ultimately positive look on life that was present in that final line.

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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As for the other characters, they are solid, but overly abundant. I liked her bookworm sister, quite funny at times. The mother is also memorable and of course Charlie’s love interest is quite likable and the two are wonderful together. As for those two men constantly talking about possible murder methods, I do not know what to think of these two. Their conversations fit the story of the film and they are quite a fun, goofy duo, but they seemed too comedic and I do not know if this movie needed two full comic reliefs.
Shadow of a Doubt is really well acted with Joseph Cotten delivering such a strong performance. I am glad that they haven’t chosen William Powell. I love him to death, but he isn’t suited for this role and Cotten is. As for Teresa Wright, she was always such an underrated actress whom I loved here. She gave a strong performance and was immensely charming and beautiful.

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Shadow of a Doubt Movie Review

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Hitchcock directed this movie really well. It truly is one of his better films from this period, but to me not one of the best. I really do think that it should have been shorter in length and some scenes were overly extended. The film is really well edited despite the first half. It took too much take to get there. And of course that train scene was awfully convenient and rushed. But despite those flaws, it is still such a well shot, directed and made movie which also features excellent dialogue and some memorable scenes with the library sequence being beautifully shot and so atmospheric. The film is thrilling despite its predictable nature.

Shadow of a Doubt is definitely too predictable in plot, it takes its time to get ther owing to a slow start plus the train sequence is rushed and awfully convenient. However, the story is pretty well told, the characters are memorable and really well developed, I really liked its interesting themes, the cinematography is gorgeous and some scenes are very memorable and so well conceived. Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten are also phenomenal. It is in the a very good film, but I do not share Hitchcock’s sentiments as it isn’t my favorite movie of his, not by a long shot.

My Rating – 4

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Lifeboat (1944)

Lifeboat Movie Review

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Lifeboat Movie Review

Lifeboat is a 1944 thriller drama film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Tallulah Bankhead among others. It is such an underrated Hitch entertainer.

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Dying together’s even more personal than living together

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Lifeboat Movie Review……………………………………………………

It is set on a lifeboat which contains survivers from a sinking ship during a naval attack in World War II. One of the people on the boat is German so the conflict naturally arises. This is one of those limited space movies and Hitchcock’s take on it is quite inspired which was expected from his caliber. The movie is consistently engaging and works as a great chamber drama while also being a triller.
The character development is quite stupendous. Some characters are weaker and less interesting such as Alice and Hume, but others such as Ritt and Gus are quite memorable. But of course Kovac and Connie are the standouts and I just loved their dynamic. The movie is surprisingly sensual for a Hitchcock film. She is such a great character, very competent and complex, fuelled by Tallulah Bankhead’s absolutely terrific performance. She should have been Oscar nominated for this role in my opinion.

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Lifeboat Movie Review

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There is one problem in Lifeboat and that is its treatment of Germans. I realize that it was pretty different and even too positive for that time, but for now not so much. Willi is too much of a villain here and it is totally ridiculous that anyone on a boat surrounded by Americans would think he has a chance against them. I did not like that at all. Gus’s murder raised the stakes, but it was still unnecessary and I felt bad for him.
But there is one person that is suprisingly for its time very well treated here and that’s Joe. Yes, Hitchcock was obviously not a racist for including this character. Joe is very likable and sympathetic and the rest of the group treat him nicely and with respect. It is great seeing a black character portrayed in such a wonderful manner during the 40s.

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Lifeboat Movie Review

 

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I liked almost all of its parts. Some scenes in Lifeboat were less interesting than the others, but most of them are very engaging thanks in large part to such excellent characterization and superb dialogue. I loved the dynamic between the group and they honestly felt like such a wonderful group of people. I liked the ending and to me the humor, especially with Connie, is excellent. It needed more thriller elements, but as a drama Lifeboat excels.
Lifeboat is one of the most underrated Hitchcock films. Yes, it may be unrealistic at times and some characters and scenes are less interesting than the others, but it benefits from very strong acting (Tallulah Bankhead is so good here), a terrific set of characters and an intriguing drama and dilemmas brewing between those well-rounded characters. It is also authentic in its setting meaning that not many films of the era revolve on the boat. It is flawed, but it’s an entirely involving, very good and an unfortunately forgotten film from the master of suspense.

My Rating – 4

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Westworld (1973)

Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Westworld Movie Review

Westworld is a 1973 science fiction western thriller film directed by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner. It is one of the best sci-fi films of the seventies.

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No matter what you do, he’ll always be one step ahead of you!

You haven’t got a chance!

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

I absolutely adored this movie. It is the best film I’ve seen in a while and it just might actually be one of the best ten or twenty sci-fi films of all time. Yes, it is that good! And I did not expect that at all and now I am so intrigued that I would like to see a TV show that they have just made, but because it is a typical sensationalist, overly violent show like every other today, I unfortunately cannot and won’t watch it which is beyond frustrating.

This story is amazing. It is about an amusement park which consists of Roman World, Medieval World and the titular Westworld. In all three of these areas, visitors get the full treatment which is super realistic and detailed. Androids that look extremely like humans serve them and visitors can have sex with them, fight them etc. But when a sort of computer virus spreads, all androids start acting strangely, they rebel and eventually attack and kill humans. Such wonderful mayhem ensues.

Westworld is one of those movies where I instantly realized that a book author directed it and surely enough Michael Crichton, an author, is the director. And although some may find that problematic, I loved his direction here as he brings such high level of detail that regular movie directors could just never do. That is why the world building here is absolutely spectacular. You have all three of these areas utilized properly and I was fascinated by all of them and it was great that I got to witness each three. That I did not expect.

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

And it is all so well thought out, not to mention extremely well executed visually. The special effects are so great and advanced for its time. I loved that Gunslinger’s viewpoint which, when broken, went pixelized and there we witness the first ever use of CGI. That is simply groundbreaking. And the androids themselves look phenomenal.

I know this is nitpicking, but I disliked the blood in this movie which was so obviously fake and with such a ridiculous light colour that was honestly quite funny. And as for the story, the only problem I’ve had is the fact that the androids can be distinguished from humans by looking at their hands as that is the only body part that the scientists did not fully perfect yet. Are you kidding me?! You make a perfect android that looks entirely like a human and has face and hair that are totally realistic and yet somehow the hands are the only parts that you cannot make properly. That was really ridiculous and just a plot contrivance as it was obviously convenient for the characters to know who is and who isn’t human by looking at their hands.

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

But other than that and the fact that the second act definitely has a couple of slower and even repetitive scenes (there are too many scenes with the scientists for sure), I absolutely loved Westworld and I wanted a longer running time and more exploration of this enormous and beautifully conceived world. It is definitely one of the rare movies that entirely deserve sequels and TV shows as it is that big and rich with ideas.

It was an interesting turn of events that the more bravado character died and the goofier one survived and turned out to be a protagonist. That was unexpected. I still didn’t love both of them, but they were quite good nonetheless. But the Gunslinger steals the show and seeing Yul Brynner in this fun role just brought a smile on my face as I am a big fan of his and he was perfect for this role and he delivered in spades.

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Westworld Movie Review…………………………………………………..

Westworld is a science fiction film at its core, but most certainly a western too and a thriller with some strong horror elements as well. There are many great scenes here, but my favourite one has to be the entire chase sequence near the end as it was thrilling to behold and I loved especially the moment when Peter hid from the Gunslinger by standing beneath the flaming torch and thus fooling the villain’s infra-red scanners. Such a clever and thrilling scene. And the score was tremendous here, quite effective and spooky.

Westworld is one of the most original sci-fi moves that I have ever seen. It is such a unique mix of sci-fi, western and thriller with a story that is just fascinating to behold, rich in detail and propelled with amazing world building. It truly is one of the rare movies that entirely deserve many sequels and TV shows. I loved the score and special effects, Yul Brynner is superb, the chase scenes are filled with thrills and the film is consistently entertaining, clever and absolutely phenomenal.

My Rating – 4.5

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