Sep 262012

The Sweeney


How do you make a film about police in the UK cool? British police don’t carry guns and you can never get far enough away from the stereotype of the bobby on the beat. This film makes a kind of compromise and the police in The Sweeney run around carrying baseball bats. when things finally warm up are they allowed gubs, but by, then all realism has been thrown out of the window.

The film stars arch cockney Ray Winstone as Jack Regan. Winstone is a great actor but this role is way too type cast and one that stifles him as an actor. It’s a clichéd role  of the old school, high testosterone policeman who gets results and doesn’t care how he gets them. A yawning problem  with Winstone in this film that he is way too old to be doing an action film like this and as a result he huffs and puffs his way through the film. He is so unconvincingly when he gets a chance to be so pretend virile – by having an affair with the IA chief’s wife – that he’s fooling no one. For younger audiences there’s Ben drew (AKA Plan B), as George Carter, the more considerate side kick. He’s alright  but the role never asks for any greatness in acting. It also stars Damian Lewis as chief putting a slight accent to cover his real life poshness. Then there’s the true bad guy the IA chief, Lewis (Steven Mackintosh) the antithesis of Ray Winnstone’s supposed virility. He is desk bound, anemic too worried about playing the rules, attacking police instead of criminals etc. He is as much of a cliché as Ray Winstone’s character.

The plot is pretty forgettable – it concerns the shooting of an innocent woman at a break-in at  a jewellery store. Some stuff happens, the investigation leads to a bank heist which is badly handled by the Sweeney and develops into a shoot out in Trafalgar Square which results in carnage. Winstone’s character has responsibility for the débâcle and it leads to him being briefly put in prison before being inexplicitly set free by his colleagues. It all ends with a car chase through a caravan park in Gravesend – but I can’t remember why.

It’s obviously that the director Nick Love was aiming to make a slick, Hollywood style crime caper, but on a low budget. The plot could have done with more humour, more of a nod to the old TV and films that this film was supposed to be based on. There’s little realism or any attempt to make one except to show the characters occasionally in an office. The film is helped along by lots of moody aerial shots of Canary Wharf and the City of London which sets the scene for a lot of the set pieces.

The Sweeney isn’t as bad as I thought it would be but it’s also not that great. The creators tried to marry British policing with slick American action but couldn’t quite make it work. The film is big and brash but it’s flimsy material. It may be entertaining to watch in the cinema but it’ll be totally forgotten afterwards.


By Keith Hudson

Sep 192012

Remakes are hard to pull off – especially if the film that is being remade is a cult classic like Total Recall.  The original version of this film was a dystopian sci fi set on Mars and was based on a story by Philip K Dick writer of mind-bending stories. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger .and was ultra violent but had a lot of iconic moments, for example a woman with three breasts (who is also in the new version). The newer version diverges from this, mainly by being set on earth but is also different in style but keeps the sci fi theme. It might not be a straight remake, but that doesn’t stop it being compared to the first film.

In the 22 years  since the original was made the biggest advances in film making has seen the increased usage of CGI, which in comparison makes the original film look fairly creaky. The remake uses CGI to create a monumental landscape quite a lot like Bladerunner (another Philip K Dick based film) with its constant rain, neon lights and colourful population. The effects enhance the action scenes to a point when you don’t know what’s real and what’s been created.

The latest version of Total Recall creates a different setting for the film but also with changes in the script. In a not very convincing future, chemical warfare has obliterated all life except in two places – Britain (United Federation of Britain) where the establishment live and Australia (the Colony) where all the poor people live. Movement between the two opposite sides of the world is through a metro that passes through the Earth’s core called “the Fall”. One of these commuters is Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrel) who works on a synthetics production factory. Quaid craves more from life and goes to a site that creates synthetic memories of a fabricated experience, called Rekall. However things go wrong and Quad discovers he is already a real life spy and the life, his reality until then was fake. Thus his wife at the start of the film isn’t his wife any more, and is hell bent on killing him and he meets a woman of his dreams who is in fact his girlfriend in the new reality (played by Jessica Biel). So far so Philip k. Dick. The film then turns on the action as Quaid tries to find out who he really is, and who of the people he meets are real. The film keeps the confusing tempo going – and that’s what helps the film rise above the generic sci fi shoot em ups. The action scenes of the film are reminiscent of another Philip K Dick adaptation – Minority Report. The action scenes are well executed and are integrated into a convincing futuristic landscape.

The ultra violence of the original movie has been toned down to be acceptable for a 12A audience which seems to be the default certificate for a movie these days. The film lacks those iconic moments that really set up a good sci fi There’s no Kuato fastened to the belly of a man and in comparison Bill Nighy as head of the resistance cannot really compare.

Another downfall of this version of Total Recall  is in the casting. Though Colin Farrel is a better actor than Schwarzenegger he lacks the charisma Arnie has. The chief bad girl, the original/fake wife is played by Kate Beckinsale looks particularly miscast and never really convinces. None of these or any of the other actors rise above themselves and none put in a memorable performance

Although Total Recall is no patch on the original, and maybe forgotten in a few years, it is still an enjoyable action movie with some nice aesthetics action and mind bending plot which elevates itself slightly above the mundane.


Written by Keith Hudson

Sep 072012

Switch Fringe was born after a chance meeting of Amy Wragg & Cad Taylor. The pair identified Ipswich’s desire & need for a platform to showcase all the exciting creative activity going on across Ipswich.

Sep 062012


Amy glues herself to the sofa and experiences the most hotly anticipated SF on UK TV today…   

Well, what a start to Series 7 with shocks and surprises at every corner, it was a tremendous opener, filled with sharp writing and performances in an episode that had it all: explosions, excitement and an extraordinary amount of soufflés and despite a twist that saw the Doctor being kidnapped along with Amy and Rory and forced into helping his sworn enemies, it’s classic Doctor Who as we see our heroes run about on a spaceship, blow up some Daleks, overcome mortal peril, and teleport back in time for tea.

“Don’t be fair to the Daleks when they’re firing me at a planet!”

The kidnapped time travellers are begged by the Daleks to beam down onto a planet so fearsome they won’t set foot on it: an asylum for lunatic Daleks who can no longer be controlled, and due to an impenetrable force field that can only turned off while on the planet, they can’t destroy it so the Doctor faces an impossible mission because as soon as the force field is turned off the Daleks will blow the planet up but of course with a little help the Doctors ingenuity saves the day and as the planet is blasted into dust, cries of “Doctor Who?” ring out because in an unexpected twist every memory of the Doctor is wiped from Dalek history.

The biggest surprise was most definitely Jenna-Louise Coleman’s appearance in this first episode, four months before her expected debut; we see her playing the part of Oswin Oswald, dazzlingly funny, charming and offbeat, with a striking familiarity to the Doctor. When watching Oswin in her apparently cosy spaceship communicating with the Doctor outside in the snow, we naturally assume that both world’s we see are real and form part of the same universe and as all of Oswin’s actions come through the planet’s technology, we never question that she isn’t real, however the Doctor realises straight away that something is wrong, constantly questioning her about the milk for her soufflés and the reveal that Oswin was killed long ago and has been transformed into a Dalek, and that her cosy home-cooking lifestyle on board the spaceship is a fabrication is a total shock!

“You dreamed it for yourself because the truth was too terrible.”

How Oswin can be saved remains to be seen, and how does she become Clara? But as we await these answers I am looking forward to seeing her character evolve as this was a stunning first appearance.

Viewers of the series 7 webisodes prequel ‘Pond Life’ won’t have been surprised to see Amy and Rory in the middle of a divorce at the beginning of this episode, torn apart the fact Amy can’t have children due to the incident in Demon’s Run, where the Silence trapped Amy until she gave birth to River Song. The Doctor desperately wants to help fix the problem but while he is otherwise occupied they fight it out, and in an emotional and heartfelt scene we see them make up leaving the Doctor to push the escape button.

But things are due to keep getting better as this Saturday we see Doctor try to save a spaceship filled with dinosaurs from imminent destruction, so don’t forget to tune in and enjoy!

Sep 032012

Following the yellow brick road, Becca reviews one of the greats of the twentieth century…

This film was made in 1939. It doesn’t seem possible that a film this old could have stood the very test of time for so long, and yet, here I am expressing my awe and disbelief of it. It has topped many a-list of Greatest Films of all Time, and even now, it still has that certain charm and – well, magic about it, that films of today have lost.

You know the story: Dorothy Gale of Kansas is taken to the wonderful City of Oz, via the very efficient mode of transport that is a house caught in a tornado, and has to find her way back home. She lands in Munchkin-Land, home of the Munchkins, who until Dorothy arrived and flattened her with her house (by accident, of course), were being terrorised by the Wicked Witch of the East. And her sister, the Wicked Witch of the West, ain’t too pleased about it neither. However, the Good Witch of the North is on hand to protect and guide Dorothy, giving her the deceased witch’s magic ruby slippers, and sending her on her way to the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz – the only one who can help Dorothy get home.

So along with her loyal dog, Toto, Dorothy meets a few friends on the way: a Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) in need of a brain, a Tin Man (Jack Haley) without a heart, and a cowardly Lion (Bert Lahr), and together, they skip merrily to the Emerald City, wherein resides the Wizard who will (fingers crossed) grant their wishes.

I cannot tell you how much I love this film! Well okay, I can, but you’ll probably get bored, so I’ll try and keep things short n’ sweet. I watched this for the first time when I was six years old, after my sister had been given a copy of the video for her birthday. I believe this was the first time it had been in colour, but even though I have watched TV in colour all my life, to see Oz revealed through the opening of Dorothy’s front door is still truly mesmerising – just imagine what a momentous occasion it must have been for the adults who grew up having to watch it, completely in black and white! It’s so vivid, yet soft and dream-like, as if you’re walking through Disneyland (seriously!).

Judy Garland may have been only seventeen when she starred in this, but her performance is stunning. She comes across as a young girl only just stepping onto the threshold of adolescence, yet she is kind, gentle, and almost motherly in dealing with her companions, particularly the Lion.

The relationship between her friends is a touching one, and the boys play off each other with surprisingly quick wit and brilliant comic-timing. A good example follows after they are ambushed by the Wicked Witch’s Flying Monkeys, resulting in the capture of Dorothy.  The Scarecrow is a little worse for wear.

Scarecrow: They tore my legs off, and they threw them over there! Then they took my chest out, and threw it over there!

Tin Man: Oh, well that’s you all over…

Lion: They sure knocked the stuffin’ outta ya, didn’t they?

But as wonderful as the characters are (my particular favourite is Tin Man. He is absolutely adorable, with a great singing voice), no one can forget the songs. They too have stood the test of time, but none more so than “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, which has been covered numerous times by numerous artists, though none of them can best the original. Garland’s voice is both melancholy and sweet as honey to the ears, and it makes you want to listen to it over and over again.

Heck, I’d quite happily watch the whole film over and over again!

Rating: 5/5


Sep 032012

With an understated gold band firmly on her finger, Becca whispers the words ‘one ring to rule them all…’

With it being almost three months until the much-anticipated Hobbit film is released (that is, the first part), I thought I’d write a review for the films that brought Peter Jackson to fame. Plus, I absolutely love them…

Okay, for those who don’t know by now, The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy of books by J.R.R Tolkien, set around the back-drop of ‘Middle Earth’, where elves frolic through forests, dwarves roam under-ground, and hobbits (tiny, little people with hairy feet), just keep themselves to themselves in the Shire, a place where I secretly wish to live one day.

The Fellowship of the Ring is set many years after Tolkien’s first short story, The Hobbit (natch), but instead of Bilbo Baggins setting off on an adventure, you have Frodo, his nephew…or maybe it’s his second cousin twice removed; you never can be sure with hobbits. Anyway, it is Frodo who is chosen for the incredibly daunting task of destroying the One Ring – that’s the magic ring that belonged to the Dark Lord Sauron, before he got done in about a thousand years ago. Bilbo has had it with him ever since he found it in Gollum’s cave, sixty years ago.

Still with me? Good. The thing about this ring, though, is that whoever has it eventually becomes completely twisted to its will, and when you’re in the power of something that only has the power to destroy, well you’re in real trouble there. So Bilbo is a tad reluctant to give it to Frodo, who then has to throw it “into the fiery chasm from whence it came”. Yes, that was a direct quote from the book/film. That’s how much I love it, people.

Frodo must travel to Mordor, where Sauron’s not-quite-so-dead-after-all Eye watches over everything from his Dark Tower. But our pint-sized hero is not alone on this journey, oh no. He travels with eight companions, including three of his kin: his devoted friend (and, er, gardener) Sam, and Merry and Pippin; they’re the kind of Ant and Dec of the group. There’s also Legolas, an elf (Orlando Bloom, probably the main reason I watched this so many times, as a teen), a dwarf, Gimli, two men, Boromir (Sean Bean, who still can’t quite shake off his Sheffield accent) and Aragorn. But more importantly, there is Gandalf the Grey. His is their leader, a wizard played with heart-breaking ease by Sir Ian McKellen. Apparently Sean Connery was lined up for the role, but turned it down, because he “didn’t understand the story”.  Now, hard-core fans of the franchise may scoff at that (I know I certainly did, when I read it on, but when you step back and look at it from a Tolkien virgin’s perspective (I doubt I will be using that phrase ever again), you can kind of see what Connery was getting at.

The plot is rather complicated (many would call it epic), full of dark twists and turns and magic, and “do we trust this person, or are they just trying to get their filthy mitts on the Ring?” kind of paranoia that is incredibly engrossing. Poor Frodo is like a fish out of water, having a nice life in the Shire, only to discover the uncle he loves has been hiding a dangerous secret from everyone, and now he has to pick up the pieces – it’s hardly fair, is it? Elijah Wood plays him admirably, I mean, when you spend most of the film having to look scared, it helps to have big eyes – and he certainly has those.

Now, I would be a pretty rubbish reviewer if I did not mention the use of effects in this film. They were groundbreaking in their day (wow, that makes me sound old), particularly the memorable scenes in the mines of Moria, and the way Gollum was brought to life…but as he doesn’t feature much until the second film, I won’t go on too much about it. I will take this time, however, to applaud the crew that spent four hours every day applying the necessary make-up to bring the orcs to life. Those nasty blighters were the reason I hid behind a cushion while I watched the film for the first time, aged nine, so it was certainly worth that time. A part of me still grimaces when I look at them now, especially when you see them being ‘created’. I call it the maternity ward, heh, heh.

And don’t get me started on those Black Riders, either. Considering they barely say anything, they still have the ability to unnerve and generally send multiple chills up your spine, with that awful screeching scream they make.

But all in all, my favourite performance of the film has to be Viggo Mortensen’s as ‘Aragorn, Son of Arathorn’. He is a mysterious man, known only as a ‘Ranger’ (which I think is Middle

Earth’s equivalent of a ninja), called Strider. There is a definite sense of “who is this guy, and more importantly, can the hobbits trust him?” at the beginning, but as the film progresses, his back-story is slowly revealed. Aragorn is fierce with a sword (apparently Mortensen carried it around with him even when he wasn’t filming, and got in a spot of bother with the police for it too), growling with effort, as he battles many of the fellowship’s foes, but he is also full of softly-spoken angst, but only in the presence of his elfin belle, Arwen.


Come the end of the film, you feel it has reached a satisfying conclusion of sorts, but it also leaves you chomping at the bit for the next one.

Rating: 4/5