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

Wallace and Grommit in the curse of the Were-rabbit (2005).
Starring: Peter Sallis, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes.
Director: Nick Park.
Synopsis: Wallace and Grommit have set themselves up as pest control experts, but an 'experiment' goes wrong.
Dean's comments: Nick park's pasticine figures hark back to an age when cartoons were cartoons and no one had ever thought of using a computer to make an animated feature. It is in this fact that a lot of the charm of Wallace (a cheese-obsessed part-time mad scientist) and Grommit (his faithful and highly intelligent dog) lies. Wallace embodies a lot of the characteristics that the English would like to think they have, a never-ending curiosity, a lust for simple English traditions and food, a happy-go-lucky nature and - of course - a loyal friendship with man's best friend. The Wallace and Grommit series of shorts and this film are an archetypical example of Englishness, the film is set in an English village where the focus of a year's preparation is on a vegetable-growing contest. How much more parochial and little-England do you want? Fiennes and Carter are unmistakable English voices, and they sound like they're rather enjoying themselves voicing their characters, a feeling which carries through to the audience. The film has a good pace, never gets bogged down in its own 'action' sequences and has quite a lot of rather risqué material which will go right over the kids' heads. In short - 'Wallace and Grommit' is a great laugh for people of all ages, easily the best kids film since 'The Incredibles'.
Rating: 7/10.

Walk the Line (2005).
Starring: Joaquin Pheonix, Resse Witherspoon.
Director: James Mangold.
Synopsis: A biography of the life of Johnny Cash.
Dean's comments: What a beautiful film ‘Walk the Line’ is! From the wondrous vocal performances of the two leads to the sheer emotion of the storyline, even one such as me - who has no concept of the life and music of Johnny Cash - was touched by the power of this film. The film has almost everything, great music, great acting, a great storyline and above all an emotionally charged storyline brought to life by two actors with wonderful chemistry. I have been converted to Johnny Cash’s music, I find myself rather disappointed that I had not already discovered the raw working class angst of it. My favourite musical numbers were the re-creation of the concert in the prison and the duet of Bob Dillon’s classic love song ‘It aint me babe’. It is difficult to set the music aside in a film about a man whose life was dominated by music; but even if one does so the film is still impressive, I was holding back the tears by the end.
Rating: 8/10.

War of the Worlds (2005).
Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Tim Robbins, Justin Chatwin, Miranda Otto.
Director: Steven Spielberg.
Synopsis: Alien tripods emerge from the streets of New York and proceed to destroy all in their paths.
Dean's comments: This version of H G Wells' classic science fiction tale uses New York instead of Berkshire and relies much more on cgi-heavy effects than previous productions have done. Steven Spielberg knows how to direct an action blockbuster; his interpretation of 'War of the Worlds' contains some of the most spectacularly outlandish special effects ever seen on film. With this kind of material to work with, the director had a metaphorical easy tap-in at the far post when is came to directing the film. The plot is part of science fiction lore; aliens from Mars invade Earth in an attempt to destroy Humanity and conquer the planet. Man is ineffectual against the extra-terrestrial enemy, but Mother Nature saves the day. The story for 'war of the worlds' is - of course - the greatest allegory ever told for the insignificance of humanity against a cosmic backdrop. This is the war of the worlds after all, not humans versus aliens. A virgin of Wells' classic tale would do well to remember that before they moan about the ending. This latest production is suitably spectacular in all the right places, Dakota Fanning (such a weird name) is suitably terrified and glossy-eyed, Cruise finds his character's arc, the aliens are pretty menacing and the US army suitably ineffective. There are a number of bizarrely inconsistent moments (how does Cruise's son escape?) and Tim Robbins' character seems to have very little point other than to back up some kind of 'families stick together' message. It's nice to know that even in the modern age of Hollywood blockbusters, the producers of this film were happy to retain Wells' final message. It is one of science fiction's greatest achievements and could so easily have been lost in the mire of box-office demands to go for an 'Independence Day' style pro-USA finish.
Rating: 6/10.

The War on Democracy (2007).
Starring: John Pilger.
Director: John Pilger.
Synopsis: America's war on democracy.
Dean's comments: John Pilger's documentary on the central American democracies under fire from Washington is another in a long line of political films which is only ever going to be seen by exactly the people who already agree with its director.  It is a necessary film though, even if a few people have their eyes opened to the murky nature of modern international politics then it will have been worthwhile.  Although for the most part Pilger focuses on Hugo Chavez's attempts to fight for the poor of Venezuela and the rich media's efforts to undercut him, he eventually branches out into the history of US involvement in the whole of Latin and South America - demonstrating that despite words to the contrary, the US administration has very little interest in fostering democracy in South America where is conflicts with US interests.  Much of the latter part of the documentary uses an interview with an ex US operative who is utterly unrepentant for his view of the entire world as something which the US should pacify if it doesn't march to its tune.  I am not sure how much of this interview is taken out of context, I respect Pilger as a journalist and suspect that very little of it will have been.  If this individual is representative of the opinions that float around the halls of the CIA, then the world is in even more trouble than I thought it was.
Rating: 6/10.

Wayne's World (1992).
Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Tina Carrere, Rob Lowe.
Director: Penelope Spheeris.
Synopsis: Wayne and Garth have their own TV show, their lives are full of all sorts of wackiness.
Dean's comments: Mike Myer's humour almost defined my generation (well, when I was 12 anyway), the 'Wayne's World' series invented things like 'shwi-ing' and introduced a whole new generation to proper rock music. Admittedly the comedy is often lame toilet humour, but normally this is compensated by clever asides to camera. Come to think of it, almost all of what Mike Myers does is accompanied by lame toilet humour. Is the guy worried that we might not laugh if he doesn't appeal to base humour? Don't worry Mike, some of your other stuff is funny too.
Rating: 5/10.

Wayne's World 2 (1993).
Starring: Mike Myers, Dana Carvey.
Director: Stephen Surjik.
Synopsis: Wayne and Garth organise a festival in their home town.
Dean's comments: No where near as good as the first, but it still contains some great quotable lines. Well maybe one quotable line: "If we have it, they will come..."
Rating: 3/10.

We Were Soldiers (2002).
Starring: Mel Gibson.
Director: Randall Wallace.
Synopsis: The story of the first American soldiers to invade Vietnam in the mid 1960's.
Dean's comments: Mel Gibson lives the Vietnam cliché. Lots of explosions and SFX rip-offs from Saving Private Ryan plus the obligatory single enemy soldier we can follow for a minute before he gets minced by the brave 'first in last out' all-American-hero Gibson. As if only one Vietnamese soldier in the entire battle has a family! The overly long opening sequence set in the training base (it must go on for 45 minutes, I nearly gave up watching) is terrible, especially the bit where Gibson ticks off the reasons why France got beaten by the Vietnamese; "things not to do in Vietnam..." and all the wives sitting around wondering what's going on while the battle is in progress is totally unnecessary and soppy. Poor, dire, rubbish.
Rating: 2/10.

White Noise (2004).
Starring: Michael Keaton, Chandra West.
Director: Geoffrey Sax.
Synopsis: A man believes he can communicate with his dead wife via electronic media.
Dean's comments: ’White Noise’ is clearly a well-intentioned thriller, but the production team fail to build up any suspense, fail to inspire the viewer and leave no-one caring a bit about the fates of the main characters. Michael Keaton plays a man so dull that, by the end of the film, I cared little weather he got to talk to his wife or died or saved the lives of others or anything. There are no scary scenes at all, thus no horror, thus no tension. A disappointing film.
Rating: 3/10.

The Wind that shakes the barley (2006).
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham.
Director: Ken loach.
Synopsis: A group of young men become embroiled in the IRA's fight for Irish independence from Britain during the 1920s.
Dean's comments: A brutal film that is unflinching in its presentation of the horrific choices that have to be made by any group of people choosing to adopt violence for their cause, ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ presents the events surrounding the creation of the Irish Free State from a distinctly revolutionary Marxist viewpoint. Starting out in a small Irish village, the lead character – awesomely played by Cillian Murphy – is quickly politicised when a friend of his is killed by heartless British soldiers. We are then lead on a journey of impossibly tough choices where the idealism of the struggle for freedom is eventually dashed as factions within the movement struggle for power. There is one amazing scene in which the ordinary people of a village discuss the politics of the entire movement, it’s an extraordinary moment in which the viewer realises the power that ordinary people suddenly have to mould their futures. It’s a classic Ken Loach piece, focussing on the politics of a mass movement but never once losing sight of the individual tragedies of those involved.
Rating: 8/10.

The Windtalkers (2002).
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Adam Beach.
Director: John Woo.
Synopsis: Navajo Indians fight alongside regular American forces as code-talkers during the island battles of World War 2.
Dean's comments: Another in a long string of poor war movies. Everything here is derivative and predictable, the film sets up plots that it never finishes and the 'racial coming together' arc is very forced. The film is very 'John Woo' too, just look at the way people jump around all over the place when bombs and grenades go off. At times it looks like stock footage taken out of 'The A team'. War in the 1940's didn't involve people charging at the enemy across open fields and dodging explosions; after 'Saving Private Ryan' I expect a little more realism in my war movies.
Rating: 3/10.

Withnail and I (1987).
Starring: Richard E Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths.
Director: Bruce Robinson.
Synopsis: A pair of pissed-up unemployed actors go into the countryside for a weekend of drinking.
Dean's comments: This is a brilliantly funny look at the world of a couple of stoners stuck at the wrong end of the 1960's. Grant uses his poshest possible voice to be as twatty and 'OxBridge' as possible ("I must have some booze. I demand to have some booze." or to a chicken "How do we make it die?") to everyone he meets including bar staff, farmers, his own family and drug dealers. The state of the flat where they live reminds me of my undergraduate days (although I was never that bad), the stoned ramblings about there being something living in the sink and how all they need is booze and fags to live are the sort of things that rang true in my old flat in Broadgate park (now that was a dump). I understand that there is a society of people who play a drinking game where they try to keep up with Withnail and I, I'd be dead in the first 20 minutes I think. Richard Griffiths is brilliant too in his role as the rediculously camp uncle who fancies McGann, a special commendation needs to go to Ralph Brown's character: "I'm going to make a doll that shits iself" and the "Camberwell Carrot" spliff; I fell about laughing at that one. One last quote, when Withnail goes for the antifreeze (!) McGann's responce: "You fool, you should never mix your drinks". One of the best comedies there has ever been.
Rating: 8/10.

Wolf Creek (2005).
Starring: John Jarratt, Cassandra Magrath, Kestie Morassi, Andy McPhee.
Director: Greg McLean.
Synopsis: Three backpackers travel into the Australian outback and get more than they bargained for.
Dean's comments: A brilliantly nasty and gruesome film, ‘Wolf Creek’ does so much more than simply play to the lowest common denominator in the horror genre. This is an Australian horror film that contains no suspense for 30 minutes, and no ‘horror’ for 50 minutes, yet manages to sustain interest in the characters, which pays off later on when the blood starts to fly around. After all, what is the point of a horror film where no one cares what happens to the characters? The three backpackers have their characters painted with great ease and in several dimensions; the dynamic between their small social group is interesting and fun to watch. Then they visit an ancient crater and get stuck in the outback; a local offers to ‘help’ them, you can start to guess what happens next. This is no by-the-numbers horror though, there are several clever and innovative touches which keep the viewer unsettled and prevent anyone from thinking they’re watching a bog-standard slasher flick. The real credit needs to go to John Jarratt, who plays the Australian ‘drongo’ Mick Taylor. His performance is genuinely menacing and is complementary to the stomach-churning violence that goes on throughout the film’s final 40 minutes. A ‘must see’ for horror fans.
Rating: 7/10.

The Woodsman (2004).
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick.
Director: Nicole Kassel.
Synopsis: A recently-paroled child molester is put in a flat outside a school and struggles to re-intergrate himself into society.
Dean's comments: I am desperately confused by ‘The Woodsman’, a film which is about society’s response to paedophilia. Kevin Bacon plays Walter, a recently paroled child molester who for some reason has been placed in a flat overlooking a primary school. Now forgiving this ludicrous plot contrivance for just a moment, it is the morality of the film by which I am confused. For over an hour the film is a tough-going piece of well-considered cinema in which the viewer is forced to confront the human face behind a terrible crime, then in the final few minutes Walter achieves a kind of redemption by becoming that which he has feared. What about all the criminals who cannot act out their frustrations on someone worse than them, are they beyond redemption? What about criminals who do not happen to meet up with an attractive, open-minded and understanding female companion in their new job? What hope is there for them? I think that the intentions of the film are entirely noble and bravely realised – after all, it is a terribly difficult subject to deal with – but that the writers have ultimately scored an own goal by distilling their own subject matter into too simple a resolution. I do recommend that everyone watch the film though, but only do so if you’re willing to accept that the film is a tough watch. There are a number of scenes that are disturbing, not least when Walter talks to young girl in a local park.
Rating: 6/10.

The World is not Enough (1999).
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Denise Richards, Robert Carlyle, Sophie Marceau.
Director: Michael Apted.
Synopsis: Bond protects the daughter of a recently killed oil baron.
Dean's comments: How some people thought this was the best Pierce Brosnan Bond film I will never know. The idea that Robert Carlyle's character can't feel any pain is totally un-used, Denise Richards gets nothing interesting to do at all, she's just fed a pile of rubbish double-entendres and Brosnan (despite looking the part) already seems bored of the role. Still, it's not as bad as some of the crap that the 80's came up with in terms of Bond.
Rating: 3/10.

West Side Story (1961).
Starring: Richard Beymer, Natalie Wood.
Director: Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise.
Synopsis: A re-make of Romeo and Juliet set in contemporary New York.
Dean's comments: When I saw as a younger I thought it was rubbish, all that pap about how great America is, tosh! Now I have upgraded it from tosh to not-bad. My feelings towards musicals are fairly neutral, I believe a musical can be great if done well. The problem with this one is that they're just going on about how brilliant it is to have left their homeland to come to the land of opportunity. The only problems they face seem to be their own stupidity as they keep fighting each other for crappy fatches of ground. In conclusion, the songs and dance routines are good, but the message behind them is one that's essentially annoying.
Rating: 4/10.

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