0-9 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

I Am Legend (2007).
Starring: Will Smith.
Director: Francis Lawrence.
Synopsis: A virus has destroyed Humanity, one man lives by himself in Manhattan in the ruins of civilisation.
Dean's comments: If you think that you’ve seen this film before in a different format, then you’re probably right. ‘I am Legend’ is more of a rip off than ’28 Days Later’ than the synopsis suggests, since it cleverly makes use of extremely recognisable locations that have gone to rack and ruin since humanity has succumbed to the deadly virus. Instead of London we have New York, and instead of Cillian Murphy wandering around for 10 minutes we have well over an hour of Will Smith living a somewhat unbelievable life in New York before any characters capable of speech turn up. Smith appears to be some kind of famous scientist who was looking for a cure for the virus when it ‘jumped’ and became airborne, so he stayed in New York – thankfully discovered he was immune – and somehow sorted himself out with an impregnable fortress / houses just off Central park with built-in bio-lab, steel shutters and videos of old news clips. The question of where all this stuff came from is one of the many unanswered plot holes. Who – for instance – sets the trap that he stumbles into when he spots a dummy out of place, how did Smith’s character manage to survive being eaten by the infected before he got himself kitted out with all his survival gear? Glossing over this reveals a startlingly good performance by Will Smith, he manages to carry almost an hour of screen time by himself and plays his character spot on. You can never quite tell if the things he does – like setting dummies up in a shop and talking with them – are done because he is trying to keep himself occupied or because he has genuinely gone mad from the isolation. It’s surprisingly enthralling stuff despite all the flaws, and although the ending wraps things up a little too neatly, it is pretty short for a Holywood blockbuster and plays out ‘Redemption Song’ as the final credits roll. Any film that uses that track gets a huge thumbs up from me.
Rating: 5/10.

I Robot (2004).
Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan.
Director: Alex Proyas.
Synopsis: In the near future robots are everywhere, one of them is accused of killing it's creator.
Dean's comments: Cool action sequences aside, this is a disgraceful bastardisation of Issac Asimov's classic collection of science fiction stories. Will Smith plays himself as usual, and the only reference to the Asimov books seems to be the inclusion of a character called Susan Calvin. The whole thing is full of telegraph-high signs telling you what's going to happen next and a plot that makes very little sense when you try to break it down. This is totally out of the spirit of Asimov's classic which relies on clever story-telling around contradictions between the 3 laws of robotics. Essentially this is an action film that science fiction purists may want to ignore, please don't be taken in by the title as I was.
Rating: 2/10.

I know what you did last summer (1997).
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Philippe, Freddie Prinze Junior.
Director: Jim Gillespie.
Synopsis: A group of teenagers are being hunted by a mysterious killer armed with a meat hook.
Dean's comments: A rather plodding horror film which, given the success of 'Scream', really needed a bit of imagination on the part of the writer with respect with where to go with the plot after an interesting premise (a group of rowdy teens kill a guy accidentally-on-purpose and then cover it up). All the usual U.S. teen horror / thriller stuff is here right down to their searching of an abandoned house and being chased around by a guy with a large sharp implement. Essentially the film is a good idea, but it becomes a poor re-hash of the last 20 minutes of 'Texas Chainsaw' for the final 45 minutes, although no one should really complain about a film which revolves around Hewitt and Gellar running about for the best part of 90 minutes.
Rating: 5/10.

Ichi the Killer (2001).
Starring: Tadanobu Asano, Nao Omori.
Director: Takashi Miike.
Synopsis: A lonely man is pursuaded into assassinating members of a Yakusa gang syndicate.
Dean's comments: This is just about the grimmest film I have ever seen. From the opening title sequence (in which the film's title is written in semen) to the torture of a Yakusa gang member by hanging him from the ceiling and pouring hot oil over his back, the opening 20 minutes of the film is more shocking then anything else I've ever seen on TV or cinema. The film gets worse though as one character slices his own tongue off with a sword while Ichi continues to cut a swathe of death through the local criminal element. The main story revolves around the anarchy into which a Yakusa gang descends when its leader disappears with a large sum of money, the new gang leader is a total nutter who goes around randomly mutilating himself and other people. Add into this a gang of social rejects (one of whom imprisons himself in a TV when the Yakusa come after him) who goad Ichi into further killings and a woman who speaks in sentences alternately in Japanese and English and you've got a very strange film which just happens to be one of the most violent ever produced. It's all quite fun though as the violence is too far over the top and rather silly in places. I was a little disappointed with the ending, as it doesn't make much sense.
Rating: 6/10.

Identity (2003).
Starring: John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet.
Director: James Mangold.
Synopsis: A group of people are trapped at motel during a rainstorm, slowly they begin to die mysteriously.
Dean's comments: 'Identity' is a film that tries to do too much to scare and thrill the audience, it tries too hard to be different and as such reverts to cliché too often. The writers need to learn that a good thriller requires more than a couple of jumpy moments and an unexpected twist at the end. Note that the twist (i.e. who the killer is) is obvious if one applies my fool-proof method of solving murder mysteries. All you do it work out which of the characters has at no point during the story been fingered as a person with a motive or opportunity to be the killer. This works in such classics as 'The Mousetrap', 'The Usual Suspects' and many other Agatha Christie tales. Even the reasonably good cast isn't enough to drag this film out of it's mire of cliché and signposted slaughter.
Rating: 3/10.

The Incredibles (2004).
Starring: Craig T Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L Jackson.
Director: Brad Bird.
Synopsis: In a world of superheros saving metropolis, a series of law suits have forced the heros into hiding. A family of such superheros lives incognito of their previous lives.
Dean's comments: Quite simple excellent animation. 'The Incredibles' comes from the Pixar production company and once again raised the bar in terms of animation in films, there are some quite sublime moments in this film, from amazing explosions and fires to 'simple' things like hair and water being oh-so life-like. There's a great moment when Mr Incredible dries out some books with a hairdryer, the pages of the books flap about in the breeze with perfect precision. So on to the plot; the film is about people achieving their potential and the way that the celebration of mediocrity diminishes the successes of others. This is expressed in dialogue between the characters, Mrs Incredible tells her children not to use their powers in order to A: avoid detection as superheros and B: fit in with everyone else. This is an interesting exploration of the characters in the film, but it carries unfortunate Orwellian overtones, i.e. that to be 'equal' means to strip everyone of anything that makes them different. This 'right wing think tank' view of left wing political theory has, for decades, polluted ordinary people's views of the left. In 'The Incredible' the superheroes are needed to save the world from an 'evil genius'; an ending that, if it were not for the fact that the very existence of the superheroes is what causes the 'evil genius' to exist, borders on a Fascistic 'super-race' view of the world. Political considerations aside, the film is an exciting and visually stunning romp with plenty of great lines and action. There is probably more for the adults watching the film than kids - it is a little too long for young children and several of the themes are about the pressures of work and family life - although children in the cinema when I saw it were 'wow'ing at all the chase scenes and explosions. A genuine 'family' film.
Rating: 7/10.

Independence Day (1996).
Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Bill Pullman.
Director: Roland Emmerich.
Synopsis: A large group of spaceships come to Earth and hover over the major cities waiting for something to happen.
Dean's comments: I was rather young and impressionable when I first saw this, now I can report back and tell you all that although the film contains some fun SFX and decent battle sequences, in general it's rubbish. America save the world? Please, I think I'd rather live under the thumb of the aliens than have to pay lip-service to America for the rest of history for 'saving' us again. None of the science makes any sense at all, ships that big could hover over cities without crushing them, a computer virus that minces an entire alien species' system in just a few seconds? Don't they have fail-safes or back up systems? Wouldn't they simply re-boot their systems and then the Humans would be done for? The film is also very stuck in the 1990s, it plays on the alien mythology created by paranoid individuals and the writers of the X files, as such the film is going to look very dated in 20 years. But, you know, anyone prepared to suspend all disbelief and simply sit back to enjoy Will Smith eating up the scenery for 2 hours will probably enjoy this; and good luck to you.
Rating: 4/10.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: Famous archeologist Indian Jones has to find the ark of the covenant.
Dean's comments: How cheesy do you like your action films? This is a strange cross-breed between Star Wars' mysticism and James Bond's action on LSD. The odd thing is that everything seems to work, from the now-legendary opening sequence to the final animatronic face-melting as the arc of the covenant is opened by Nazi mystics, there's something magical in the film that gives it an endearing quality. A quick mention has to go to the fact that 'Raiders' sets up a whole genre of action film clichés in film and TV that still endure to this day. Harrison Ford is excellent as an all-round all action hero and deserves the plaudits he has received over the years for his roles in such film (Han Solo, Jack Ryan, Blade Runner etc). This is one of the few good things that Speven Spielberg did for film during the 80s.
Rating: 6/10.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984).
Starring: Harrison Ford, Kate Capshaw, Jonathan Ke Quan.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: Lost in the Indian jungle, Indiana Jones helps a small village find their magic stone with life giving powers.
Dean's comments: This is a very disappointing film. The makers seem intent of making a parody of the first and that doesn't make any sense at all. I don't understand the reasoning behind trying to make a follow-up film that takes the piss out of the first. 'Temple of Doom' just looks like an excuse to try and scare children (think people eating eye-balls and sacrificial natives), while 'Raiders' is a genuinely classy action film.
Rating: 2/10.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989).
Starring: Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, Alison Doody.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: Indiana Jones and his father search for the Holy Grail.
Dean's comments: Where the first film excelled, this is merely average. Thankfully the writers have returned to the formula that was such a success in 'Raiders', Indiana chases around the world after a lost Christian artefact while dodging Nazis and all sorts of weird and mystical criminals, traps and secrets. From the very predictable 'girl turning out to be evil' and the cup-choosing final sequence that owes an lot to 'Return to Oz', the whole thing is rather mediocre. Sean Connery is fun as the dappy father, but I think the role is an easy one for him. Ford is only a decade younger than Connery, but the film-makers managed to cover that up fairly well. People of all ages will most likely enjoy this, a solid action film that always keeps one eye winking at the audience.
Rating: 5/10.

Infection (2004).
Starring: Masanobu Takashima, Shirô Sano, Yoko Maki, Moro Morooka, Michiko Hada.
Director: Masayuki Ochiai.
Synopsis: A patient whose organs appear to be liquefying is brought to a hospital on the brink of closure.
Dean's comments: Another of Tartan films' Japanese horror imports that promises a hell of a lot more than it delivers. For an hour this is about as suspenseful as a low budget horror film could expect to be, but after the dream sequences start happening the plot begins to unwind as it becomes apparent that the writers never really knew where they were going when they penned the storyline. First there's a disease, then there's a monster, then its all in your dreams, then it was all a dream, then its all about fears. Finally there's a weird ending in which a disembodied green hand claws its way out of a locker. After 45 minutes I was genuinely thinking to myself how much better 'Infection' is over and above the torture porn which passes for the horror genre these days. Sadly the promise of a tight and intriguing thriller with a hint of supernatural activity quickly fades away.
Rating: 5/10.

Inland Empire (2006).
Starring: Laura Dern.
Director: David Lynch.
Synopsis: An actress slowly goes mad after getting a job in Holywood.
Dean's comments: A lot of people don't like David Lynch films, either because they don't get it or think that Lynch is being deliberately confusing with his material in order to confuse and promote his status as an autor in cinema. I have always been prepared to accept his non-linear story-telling style and frivolent use of characters, since he often does it with enough style and wit to remain entertaining while retaining a meaningful core. With 'Inland Empire' though, he has finally gone too far. The badness begins with the 3 hour running time, a totally unnacceptable length for any film which after 90 minutes decends into a literal depiction of the unravelling of an actress' mind. Given that this is a David Lynch film, what this means is an unending stream of non-sensical images, scenes that don't follow on from each other, time slips into earlier parts of the film and unnecessary close-ups with hand-held cameras. What all this means isn't really clear; it may be that Lynch is trying to do a simple tale in his own discintive style. It may have worked if not for the 3 HOURS that it takes to finally end, no amount of scantily-clad Californian chicks - which he provides in droves - can compensate for that.
Rating: 3/10.

Inside Man (2006).
Starring: Clive Owen, Denzel Washington, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jodie Foster, Willem Dafoe.
Director: Spike Lee.
Synopsis: A detective struggles to solve a 'perfect' bank heist while under pressure from the Manhattan authorities to drop his investigations.
Dean's comments: If 'Inside Man' succeeds only in exemplifying the simple pleasures of cinema, then it will have done enough. Despite Spike Lee appearing to be running on automatic, he gets the basics so right that there is nothing to dislike about this film. 'Inside Man' is a simple story with wonderful dialogue, well-acted characters, an engaging structure and decent twists. It's partly a thriller, partly a mystery, partly a cops-and-robbers caper and a film which advertises the city of New York (its people and its buildings) with a kind of loving attention that perhaps is only bettered by Woody Allen. This is the way that film should be, take an engaging plot, add good actors, good sets and a director that is clearly interested in what he's filming and the result is 100 minutes of pure entertainment which will fly by and leave you wanting more. The story revolves around a 'perfect robbery' in which the identities, motives and objectives of the thieves are shrouded in mystery even towards the end of the film. The police then have to play out a series of mind games with these robbers while being hampered by the rich and powerful of New York - who are aware of the presence of sensitive materials within the bank being hijacked. A simple and engaging film without any pretensions to be more than it is, but at the same time a film that was clearly made with great care and attention to character development, 'Inside Man' ticks all the boxes that a good film should.
Rating: 7/10.

Insomnia (2002).
Starring: Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Hilary Swank.
Director: Christopher Nolan.
Synopsis: A detective who cannot sleep properly travels to Alaska to investigate the murder of a teenager.
Dean's comments: Al Pacino is a flawed cop investigating a murder in summer-time Alaska. Robin Williams is a spooky, disturbing killer. Beautiful Alaskan scenery, wonderful filming that takes in the atmosphere and seclusion of the Alaskan small town, a great script and characters with something behind them that you can care about or loathe, 'Insomnia' is a film that represents the best of thrillers coming out of the American mainstream cinema. It's hardly a surprise that this is the same director that brought 'Momento' to the screen. Robin Williams shines particularly well as the sadistic killer; this guy has an amazing range of acting which is sometimes overshadowed by his comic talents. A notable performance from Hilary Swank as the local police officer on the case nicely contrasts against Al Pacino's suburban smarts. This is a well-balanced film which provides mystery and psychology at the same time.
Rating: 7/10.

Intacto (2001).
Starring: Leonardo Sbaraglia.
Director: Juan Carlos Fresandillo.
Synopsis: Certain people are just plain 'lucky', they enter into a world of chance and fate.
Dean's comments: 'Intacto' seems like a kind of forgotten episode of the X-files in Spanish. The premise is that there is an entire underground society of people who compete in games where there is only luck and chance to decide the winner, such as putting jam on your head and seeing who the fly lands on first or running through a forest blindfolded and not crashing into a tree. The people involved in this practice spend their time looking for the jammiest people in the world to compete, our main character is a guy who was involved in a mid-air collision in a plane but managed to float safely to the ground. The film meanders along, at times being more interested in the games of chance rather than the characters involved. The conclusion isn't particularly satisfactory, but I recommend people watch the film because of its interesting and different premise.
Rating: 6/10.

Intermission (2003).
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kelly MacDonald, Cillian Murphy, Colm Meaney.
Director: John Crowley.
Synopsis: A tale of several people living dis-jointed but subtley connected lives.
Dean's comments: This modern comedy is genuinely funny as well as developing several bizarre characters that wouldn't look out of place in a Coen brothers' film. Colin Farrell seems to have become a bit of a darling of Holywood (i.e. whenever they need an Irish character they think "Where's Colin...") but thankfully he still has the sense to appear in a good old-fashioned black comedy when the chance comes his way. In 'Intermission' he is brilliant as the nasty but ineffectual criminal Lehiff while Colm Meaney is the next best character as the gruff wannabe TV star detective. The story moves along quickly with each of the ensemble of characters getting their chance to enter into the darkly comic experience. I don't drink caffeine, but I want someone to tell me if brown sauce goes well in tea or coffee. That's a question you'll need an answer to after watching this film.
Rating: 6/10.

The Interpreter (2005).
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn.
Director: Sydney Pollack.
Synopsis: A U.N. translator overhears a plot to assassinate the leader of a small African nation who is wanted for war crimes.
Dean's comments: Let's get the good stuff out of the way, Sydney Pollack know how to use a camera, he also knows how to wring every little piece of drama and suspense out of an action scene. This is highlighted no better than the sequence in 'The Interpreter' when a bomb destroys a bus in the middle of New York. Throughout the film he uses odd camera angles to great effect to build a level of disjointed confusion in the mind of the viewer. This would make for a half-decent thriller if it were not for one major problem, the script is awful. Kidman and Penn, both fine actors, are given a bunch of horribly trite lines in a story which the writers totally fail to engage the viewer in. There are many problems, the greatest being that no one cares what happens, there simply isn't enough in the script to connect any viewer to the characters or the fate of the African leader. I simply couldn't have given a damn whether he was killed or not, or who the assassin was or what Kidman's character's true connection to him was or blah blah blah... The first rule of film making is to have a good script! Then you can play with cameras and get Kidman to put on a generic African accent. Sean Penn plays the same character he always gets lumbered with, except that this time he has to deal with the tackiest of dialogue ("We're on different sides of a river, you've got to give me a reason to cross it.") 'The Interpreter' is a film that could have been really entertaining, in the end it falls flat for want of an engaging plot.
Rating: 4/10.

Intolerable Cruetly (2003).
Starring: George Clooney, Catherine Zeta Jones, Geoffrey Rush.
Director: Joel Coen.
Synopsis: A lawyer prevents a divorcee from getting any money, she seeks revenge upon him in whatever way possible.
Dean's comments: I don't know what's wrong with these Coen brothers 'purists' that insisted they were selling out with this film, I thought 'Intolerable Cruelty' was a really funny film with plenty of insane dialogue and one death (a guy using a pistol as an inhaler with obvious consequences) worth of any top-notch black comedy. George Clooney may be Hollywood top-draw, but that doesn't mean he can't act. In this film I thought he was excellent as the lawyer who always has one foot ahead of his opponents yet seems to be on edge all the time. Just because you get a couple of well-paid Hollywood A-listers in you picture doesn't mean you've given up on your principles. The film is much more light-hearted than a lot of the Coen brothers' other efforts, this brings out the comic talents of Clooney as he plays off Jones' aloof gold-digging serial-divorcee and the ancient, bumbling and powerful company chairman. The revenge that Jones' character seeks against Clooney is beautifully twisted and intricately plotted, I don't want to give away any endings so I'll just say that there are several plot turns before it finishes.
Rating: 6/10.

The Ipcress File (1965).
Starring: Michael Caine.
Director: Sidney J Furie.
Synopsis: A thriller in which British spies are being kidnapped and brainwashed.
Dean's comments: This is a fairly solid spy thriller that's set firmly in the classic 60s spy culture of 'The Avengers' and 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'. The problem with this film, and often with those classic TV series, is that they are too psychedelic for their own good. Caine is a great actor, and he is given some great stuff to work with here, but when the film goes into a weird psychological mire in the last 30 minutes I was just waiting for it to end.
Rating: 4/10.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
Starring: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore, Todd Karns, Thomas Mitchell.
Director: Frank Capra.
Synopsis: A man in a small American town is convinced that his life has been a failure due to his failure to fulfill his dreams.
Dean's comments: Possibly the ultimate 'feel-good' film, 'It's a wonderful life' follows the life of a man who has a simple dream, to see the world, but is constantly pulled back to his home town by the effects and influences of family, friends and lovers. The catch is that this is a man who is now considering suicide, a man who has - because of a financial disaster - realised that his childhood dreams will never be fullfilled. As uplifting as it is to see this man visited by an angel from heaven and shown how awful the lives of the people around him would have been had he never existed, as heartening as it is to see his community rally around him and help him out of financial strife, I am confused and disturbed by a number of the subtexts that play throughout the film. The film is obsessed with the idea that the main character is a good man, a pillar of the community who has made sacrifices in his own life for the enrichment of others. The film is futher obsessed with the idea that these are the reasons he deserves to be saved from suicide. So what if a lonesome traveller decided to top himself? I suppose the angel wouldn't have had much of a chance of saving him then. The film also follows way short of criticising the 'evil' property owner who is stopped from financially taking over the town by the actions of our hero. As if the townspeople are helpless pawns who sit around all day waiting to be 'saved' by George Bailey and fall at the feet of whoever has the most power. This is the crux of why the film has such dubious morals, it says that good men deserve god's attention, and deserve to be saved. But what of the rest of humanity? The measure by which any civilisation is rated must be the way it treats its poorest citizens; 'its a wonderful life' says that the ills of society can be ignored as long as there are paragons of the community like George Bailey. This is a disturbing and somewhat dangerous sentiment to hold. However, in terms of pure entertainment, 'It's a wonderful life' is a good film. It has clever and witty dialogue as well as an exemplary performance from Jimmy Stewart in the lead role. Definately worth seeing.
Rating: 6/10.

The Italian Job (1969).
Starring: Michael Caine, Noel Coward, Benny Hill.
Director: Peter Collinson.
Synopsis: British criminals plan to out-do the mafia in their own back yard.
Dean's comments: I instantly loved this classic of camp 60s cinema. Michael Caine is the archetypical Cockney wideboy with his band of miscreants not-quite-messing-up his intricately laid plans. Some of the imagery and dialogue in the film has entered into the national psyche as being synonymous with the 1960s in Britain. Just the thought of three minis (red, white and blue of course) brings memories of this film. Classic lines include Michael Caine's character telling his crew that "...we all work together as a team. And that means you do everything I say..." and the final shot where the gold-laden coach teeters on the edge of a mountain and Crockers insists; "I've got a great idea...". Please don't get me wrong with this review, I'm not trying to claim that this is the best film mad in the 60's or even Caine's best film, as some people like to try and claim, I just think 'The Italian Job' is great fun and shouldn't be derided just because it's a bit silly in places.
Rating: 6/10.

The Italian Job (2003).
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Edward Norton, Charlize Theron, Donald Sutherland, Jason Stratham, Seth Green.
Director: F. Gary Gray.
Synopsis: One man betrays his criminal gang while on a 'job' in Italy, they pursue him to Los Angeles in an attempt to get their money back.
Dean's comments: The only thing this film has in common with the original is that they have the same title, and that they spend a very sort time in Italy. I'm sure I saw the original 'Italian Job' playing on a TV on someone's house at one point, but maybe my imagination was playing tricks on me. The best bit about this new interpretation is the cast, all recognisable names. The worst bits are that the plot makes almost no sense at all (how can Ed Norton's character be 'lying low' is he's living it up in L.A.) and the ending involves Norton's character being dragged off by the Ukrainian mafia for almost certain torture and death while the main characters get to rejoice and laugh like at the end of a bad 'Star Trek' episode without having to murder their nemesis. Ignoring these minor problems, the film itself is a decent bit of action silliness. Don't expect to much and you might rather enjoy yourself.
Rating: 4/10.

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