Primal Fear wasn’t mind-blowing, but it wasn’t frighteningly bad either

When a priest is murdered, one of his altar boys is accused of doing the deed, however the truth of what really happened is quite deeply buried.Hot-shot defence attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) takes on the case of poor altar boy Aaron (Edward Norton) who stands accused of murdering a well-respected priest. He offers to fight Aaron’s corner pro bono, convinced that the boy is not guilty of killing the man of the cloth. As he spends time with him, Martin finds more and more material that could help Aaron’s case in court, the most important being that he appears to suffer from some kind of multiple personality disorder, as agreed by psychologist Dr. Molly Arrington (Frances McDormand). This could prove significant in court, where Martin and his client are up against ambitious young prosecutor Janet Venable (Laura Linney), whose history with the defence means she is determined to win the fight. However, one thing remains uncertain right throughout the trial, and that is, what exactly happened in the priest’s apartment, and who did it?

Another film that I have been waiting a while to see is Primal Fear. I had heard mainly good things about it, and after watching it this weekend I can confirm that it is a solid watch, however I had half-suspected the ending. Oh well, at least I can finally cross it off my list now!

I really liked Richard Gere as Martin Vail. What made him such a good character was the fact that, despite being a big time defence lawyer, he wasn’t a really self-conceited, egotistic type of person, which is often what happens with these types of characters. It is later explained to you in the film why he isn’t a complete idiot as well, and he just feels human when you watch him. I can’t help but feel that Gere is slightly type-cast as a rich man with a successful career however, because he played someone of a similar status in Pretty Woman, which happens to be one of the few other films I have seen him in. Nonetheless, I enjoyed watching him, and will happily sit and watch his work in other films in future.

This is the film that made Edward Norton, and it’s not difficult to see why. Much like James McAvoy in Split – another film involving a multiple personality type disorder – Norton owned the role by making the transitions between his two personalities so clear. There was a look in his eye that defined each persona before he spoke, and the vocal characterisations were very strong, really completing the characters. I can safely say that Norton’s early career, to the best of my knowledge, was dominated by some excellent performances.

Many of the performances in the film are very good, however it still remains only a solid watch in my opinion, not an unforgettable one. This is mainly because I had kind of seen the ending coming, so I really wasn’t that surprised when it happened, and for that reason I doubt the film is going to have much of a lasting impact on me.

Overall, while I would recommend Primal Fear, I would warn people to bare in mind that it doesn’t really break any new ground. Perhaps when it was released 21 years ago, things were different, but the film currently doesn’t have the punch I would have liked it to. That being said, it is still a good watch, and I am happy to say that I have finally seen it after waiting for such a long time.

Mystery Blogger Award Vol. 2

Well, well, well, darling readers. This week, Mr Damien Riley, fellow blogger and one of my podcasting buddies on Talking Stars, nominated me for my second Mystery Blogger award. A big thank you goes out to him for the nomination. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with Damien’s work, you should definitely check out his site, Riley Film Reviews. There you’ll find a great selection of films and a few TV series that Damien has shared his thoughts on. Once again, thanks for nominating me for this award – your timing really couldn’t have been better as this is also the week where I shall be marking two years of blogging. What a brilliant way to kick off the celebrations! 

Now let’s get down to business.

The rules of the tag/award are:

Put the award logo/image on your blog.
List the rules.

Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

Mention the creator of the award.

Tell your readers 3 things about yourself.

Nominate 10 – 20 people.

Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.

Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question.

Share a link to your best post(s).

I also want to give a word of thanks to Okoto Enigma for creating this award.

The first things to do is to tell you all three things about myself. As I get more and more of these awards, I really struggle with this part – I’m not a very exciting person to tell the truth, although anyone who maybe keeps up to date with my Twitter feed (which isn’t hard) or listens to the Talking Stars podcast will probably have figured that out for themselves by now. Anyway, here goes…

1. I hate school, and honestly, the next four months cannot pass quickly enough so that I can leave and start work with the company that took me on for work experience over the summer. It’s not the work that bothers me, it’s more the experience I’ve had with the different people in the system. I’ve had a few teachers that have had me down as stupid over the years, and in secondary school I got bullied (sob story alert). I loved it last summer when I was with Kinetal because I was constantly learning new things and it felt like they really appreciated what I was doing for them. The start of July is going to be the start of a brand new adventure, and will hopefully be the start of my journey into the film industry, and I cannot wait.

2. I used to be a gymnast, and an alright one at that. I won four county competitions during my time doing that. Floor was always my favourite because I couldn’t fall off it.

3. I have a dog. Her name is Bella. She is a right little snake in my boot. 

And now for the questions I was set for homework by Damien: 

Did you ever give a film a score higher than it deserved because you knew your readers and/or the critics as a whole loved it? In other words, you didn’t want to look stupid.

I don’t really give scores, although it’s something I should probably start doing. I wouldn’t say that I give higher scores to conform, but there have been many times that I’ve given a verdict on a film and then changed my mind after posting the review. I think I way oversell films sometimes when I try to be positive about them when there really is very little to be positive about.

How do you dive in to doing a review online? What’s your routine or do you have one?

I used to handwrite everything, but doing that and then typing up was way too time-consuming. Now I just type up and save it in Pages on my iPad ready to post it whenever it’s needed.

Have you ever watched a movie on your phone?

Of course! It’s how I used to watch the films I wasn’t allowed to by my parents.
(silly one) If you are single, or even if you aren’t, what is your dating age range. ie; when I met my wife I would go no more than ten years older and six years younger. I had to break my rule to date her.

At this moment in time, I wouldn’t go any younger than my age. To be honest, I’m not too fond of any boys within five years of my age because they’ve yet to grow up (most of them). There’s ten years between my parents, so I’m not closed off to that size of an age gap, but then Jake Gyllenhaal at 36 is slightly out of a ten years older window for me.

I’ll just say that as long as they’re breathing, they’re an option 😉

Best suspense film?

No Country For Old Men

Now I’ve to nominate some more bloggers for the award…

HC Movie Reviews

Film Music Central

Film Frenzy

Film Ink Official

Mini Media Reviews


Niche Film Reviews

Film Nerds Unite

Crutches Of Life

And my questions to you are as follows:

If you had to name one, what would you say is your worst personality characteristic?

Besides blogging and what is associated with it, what else do you like to do in your spare time?

What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?

What sort of music do you like?

Why do Australian Christmas cards have snow on them?

To finish, I’m supposed to add a link or two to my favourite posts, so here they are:

Hell Or High Water

The Hills Have Eyes (it will forever be one of my best reviews in my opinion)

Just Charlie review for Midlands Movies

This review first appeared on Midlands Movies

A gifted footballer struggles with her identity as she becomes more and more aware that they are a girl trapped inside a boy’s body, while her family and friends also try their best to come to terms with these changes.
When young footballing talent Charlie (Harry Gilby) receives an offer for a trial at his county’s football team it would appear that he quite literally has the world at his feet. If he plays his cards right, his future could be sorted. However, a life of luxury doing what he loves is more daunting to Charlie than one would initially think it would be. Trapped in the body of a boy, Charlie is painfully torn between living up to his father’s expectations and following the life he never could, and shedding his ill-fitting skin. When he unintentionally fronts up to his family, Charlie’s action threatens to tear his family apart forever.

Just Charlie is a Midlands-based project that takes a look at the story of a young boy who is a young girl at heart. It is a wonderfully made film that sensitively deals with an issue that has recently started to have more and more light shed on it.

I really enjoyed a number of the performances here, although I absolutely must start off by saying hat’s off to young Harry Gilby for his portrayal of Charlie here. For a first appearance in a feature length film he did a terrific job. It was a truly brilliant performance that I think showed real maturity on Gilby’s behalf. I think a lot of very experienced actors would have to seriously consider taking on a role such as this because it is a very sensitive issue that has only really become something that has started to be discussed publicly very recently. There is potentially a lot that could go wrong when someone plays a transgender person as there is such a huge number of ways the role could be unknowingly mishandled. For me though, Gilby did a very good job of portraying Charlie, so kudos to him.

Scot Williams played Charlie’s dad, and again, this was another blinding performance. Some of his scenes with Gilby were horrible to watch, but this had such an impact on me as a viewer. I cannot begin to imagine the toll that a situation such as the one presented here in the film must take on a family, but if I were to try to, the results would come pretty close to so many of the scenes that the two actors shared here. As difficult and upsetting as they were to watch at times, they really did the job very well. Williams managed to play Paul in a way that meant you didn’t view him as a heartless idiot, but as a man who was grieving in some way, meaning you were able to empathise with him somewhat.

I have to praise writer Peter Machen on the story he created for the film. He managed to write something that covered just a bout all bases of Charlie’s life – home, school, football, and everything in between. He also managed to do all this without making the film feel as thought it was trying to be much bigger than it actually was. While it may have branched out and touched upon the issue in a variety of settings, the story still felt personal and intimate enough for you to really be drawn into it.

All in all, Just Charlie is a beautiful film that pulls no punches in delivering it’s message, yet still brings everything back round for a happy ending (or should I really say beginning in this case?). The top notch writing covers so many things while the truthful performances do a great job in tying everything together very nicely indeed. This is a touching journey of a film that is definitely worth every moment spent watching it.

Opinion Battles Round 5 Favourite Video Game Adaptation

Movie Reviews 101

Opinion Battles Round 5new-logo

Favourite Video Game Adaptation

Over the past 25 odd years videos games have become a new stream of entertainment, so naturally Hollywood has decided to jump on the bandwagon and turn these lengthy stories into one of films, a lot get highly criticised but for the fans of film that never played the games we get certain stories that work on film. With the final chapter of the Resident Evil franchise coming to the cinema it is now time for us to pick our favourite video game adaptations.

If you want to take part in the next round of Opinion Battles we will be picking our Favourite Film from 1987, email your choices to 19h March 2017.

Darren – Movie Reviews 101

Silent Hillsilent

When Silent Hill first hit the cinema I want to see the film, I never played the game as I…

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Tuesday Top Ten – My Favourite Blockbusters

The end of awards season marks the beginning of the run up to summer blockbuster releases, so this week I have complied for you a list of my favourite highest-grossing box office hits. The films featured on this list all came from’s 100 All-Time Box Office Top 100. I was quite surprised to see that from the worldwide list, upon which my own list is based, that the majority of films came from this side of the year 2000. Anyway, that’s enough of me yabbering on, here’s my selection.
10. Avatar

It’s been an absolute age since I watched Avatar, but one thing I remember about the film is I enjoyed it watching it. Quite unsurprisingly, this film is the highest-grossing film of all-time according to website I looked at for help with this list. I can recall the hype surrounding the film when it came out – there was an awful lot of excitement about it, so the fact that it majorly cleaned up whilst in cinemas is no big shock for me.

9. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Another film that I have gone a long, long, long time without seeing is this instalment in the Mission Impossible franchise. It was the big return of Ethan Hunt and was good fun when I watched it one Friday night many years ago. Not being the greatest fan of Tom Cruise, it is no mystery to me as to why it has been so long since I saw the film, but evidently this was not something that put the masses off of flocking to see the film when it was released as it comfortably made’s top 100.

8. Avengers Assemble

Marvel films are always a fun affair, aren’t they? Alongside this, they are always guaranteed to take in astronomical figures at the box office. Avengers Assemble was a huge project that did very well with audiences everywhere, and when I eventually hopped on the bandwagon, I thoroughly enjoyed it as well.

7. The Hunger Games

Most franchises that start life as a series of books tend to be a sure fire hit provided the film adaptation of the first instalment is well received. The Hunger Games franchise was something that seemed to do better and better as each film hit cinemas. At this moment in time, I’ve only seen the first in the series, but I found it to be a much better film than I had anticipated, which is never a bad things.

6. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them

As anyone who read my review of this film will know, I was very, very pleasantly surprise by how wonderful I found this film to be. Fantastic Beasts had big boots to fill, and I would say it did a damn good job of doing that. This was mainly down to the casting of Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander in my opinion – I think that was the best casting choice in a long time. Fantastic Beasts could be the next big franchise for kids, and I wouldn’t be sorry if that was the case. I’m glad it was a huge success.

5. The Lion King

It will come as no surprise to anyone that The Lion King is one of the highest grossing films of all time. I think you will struggle to come across anyone who hasn’t seen it. It was a staple film of my childhood so I couldn’t not include it here. The music is wonderful and the story is one that never seems to get old. If we’re being realistic, it could only make money.

4. Up

This was a fantastic movie, and in my eyes it was the last great film that Pixar made. I can remember it being all over the news for how it had been such a hit with audiences, and when I finally got to see it for my birthday that year, I really enjoyed it. It is in my DVD collection and is a film I’m always happy to revisit.

3. Finding Nemo

Another tremendous film from my childhood was Finding Nemo. This film will always be untouchable, and is one of the early reasons why you don’t mess with Pixar films. Ever.

2. Skyfall

I am a huge fan of this instalment in the James Bond franchise. It has so much going for it, not least Javier Bardem as Bond villain Raoul Silva. This was another birthday cinema treat, and is a film I continue to enjoy every time I watch it. It also had quite a bit of pressure to do well at the box office as it was the most expensive Bond film ever made. It absolutely brought home the bacon.

1. Forrest Gump

One of only two films on this list that is from outside the 2000s & 2010s is Forrest Gump. It made a huge amount of money when it was on cinema release, but was a film I only just saw a couple of years ago. I sat through it from beginning to end with a huge great smile on my face, and I can tell you now that if it ever gets re-released in cinemas I will have no qualms with spending my money on the best seats.

There you have it – a run-down of my favourite blockbuster films. I think this is a fair mix of genres that touches on films that reach out to all audiences. If ever you’re stuck for some easy watching, these films are just a few of the options available to you to make for a nice night in in front of the TV with your choice of snacks and favourite pyjamas on.

Take a trip to Westworld

A futuristic Western-themed amusement park allows high paying guests to live out their wildest fantasies without real world consequences.
Westworld is a theme park with a difference – it enables rich holidaymakers to experience whatever fantasies they possess through artificial consciousness. The park is maintained by robotic ‘hosts’, who aid the fulfilment of the guests desires. However, the many advances in technology that have taken place since the park opened have meant the hosts have become increasingly lifelike over the years. Now, they’ve reached a point where they are growing more and more self-aware and have a stronger grasp on reality, that reality being that they are simply there to carry out a function. After this long, it would appear that the hosts have had enough, and the ultimate rebellion starts to get underway.
I know Westworld was on TV ages ago, but it is only now that I have managed to get round to seeing it. I have to be honest, for the first couple of episodes, I didn’t really know what was going on, but I’m glad I persevered because it built up to a very good finale that ha some very excited for the next season. Maybe I was at a disadvantage because I have never seen the original Westworld film? Who knows… I did eventually end up really enjoying the series, which is all that really matters I think.

A number of things caught my attention when it came to the previews for the show, and one of those things was the cast. Westworld boasts quite a line up. Anthony Hopkins plays Robert Ford, one of the co-founders of the park. I initially loved his character – the fact that Hopkins stuck with his native Welsh accent for the role really worked for me, however he turned out to be a right piece of work in the end, and something about that just didn’t quite sit right. It didn’t have the impact I would have liked it to.

My favourite character had to be Thandie Newton’s brothel madam Maeve. She really reminded me of a character similar to her in Ripper Street, and she was great to watch as she cottoned onto what had been going on for years and years inside the park. I also liked watching the transitions she and the other host actors underwent when the people in charge of the park were running diagnostics and carrying out other technological tasks. The smallest changes made a huge difference in these scenes and it was very easy to differentiate between their personalities and analytical selves.

As I’ve said, to start off I didn’t really have much clue as to what exactly was going on with the storyline, but by the time it got to the third or fourth episode I was fully on board. I think this is partly due to you watching the drama unfold as would be the case from the hosts’ perspectives. It is a non-linear narrative, and the story goes backwards and forwards a lot. Each episode tends to go back to the beginning with a different character, and each time it does this it brings up both old and new details. It kind of felt like what I’d imagine was what the hosts were experiencing as they woke up at the beginning of each storyline. Maybe that’s a bit out there, I don’t really know – that’s just the way I tried and succeeded in making sense of it all.

So, would I recommend Westworld? The answer is yes I would. After having not seen the original film, I didn’t really know what to expect, so I suppose I went into the series with fresh eyes compared to a couple of other people who I had spoken to who had seen the film and perhaps hadn’t quite been convinced by this version of things. It does take a couple of episodes to warm-up, and for that reason Westworld certainly isn’t for everyone. Those of you with patience, however, will hopefully find it to be a rewarding watch with a real Wild West vibe, which was absolutely the case for me! 

No Offence is just as unapologetically brilliant as it returns for season 2

The dream team return for another case, this time dealing with the head of one of Manchester’s biggest crime syndicates.
No Offence is one of those shows that I had never really anticipated being anywhere near as good as it actually turned out to be. Season one blew us all away in 2015, and with the promise of the show making a return, the next season could not come soon enough. After waiting almost two years, the show made a triumphant return. All I can say is season three had better hurry up – I’m missing the show already.

One thing that stood out to everyone when this show first arrived on the scene was it’s use of stonkingly good female characters. God knows that throughout history in both film and TV such things have been a lot harder to come by than they have been for men, but this show straightaway presented us with three wonderful women. This time around, we got four. The crime boss Deering, Dinah and Joy were trying to take down was Nora Attah, played by Rakie Ayala. She was brilliant in the role and was a terrific match for Joanna Scanlan’s Viv Deering.

Of course, there are some men in the show. Paul Ritter plays one of the best characters on TV at the minute in this show if you ask me. He never fails to make me laugh as Miller, who kind of does some of the CSI stuff. He is a prime example of the talents of writer Paul Abbott, who also wrote Shameless, and is always a highlight of every episode he appears in.

No Offence is billed as a comedy, and yes, it is very, very funny. The good thing about the show is that it doesn’t just rely on laughs to keep it’s audience engaged. What left me so impressed with season one was it’s brilliantly devised crime saga. No one had managed to guess the culprit in season one, and I was certainly looking forward to the same in this year’s run. The outline was slightly different, but the sheer quality of the writing was exactly the same, if not marginally better. I know I moaned a lot about the two year wait for the show’s return, but I guess it may not have been as good the second time around if it wasn’t for such a lengthy wait.

Once again, No Offence was an excellent watch, and may very well be one of this year’s best shows. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I would definitely say to watch it. I don’t know if it is a show that will work for international audiences, but there is only one way to find out. Even if the jokes fall flat for some people, the story itself should be plenty to retain your attention. This is definitely a show I will continue to be excited about, and I think plenty of other people should be too.