Mike has written 30 reviews for films rated ★★★★ .

  • A Scanner Darkly

    A Scanner Darkly

    ★★★★

    Richard Linklater turns the jabber dial to the max, as is his wont on his arty fares. That and the unique style of animation won't find fans everywhere, but it is the perfect complement to a film where reality, the imaginary, drugs, Robert Downey Jnr, Woody Harrelson, Winona Ryder and Keanu Reeves all collide.

  • The Grey

    The Grey

    ★★★★

    It's safe to say I did not expect what this movie delivered. A monster movie smashes headlong into a treatise on death, and the ensuing carnage is as fascinating as an explosion in ultra slow motion. The film's explicit dealings with death, the characters' primal thoughts and feelings on the subject, cast more of a shadow than most action-cum-thriller-cum-horrors could ever hope to manage.

    It does threaten many times to turn irrecoverably maudlin; fortunately stupor is averted as men-versus-wolves action turns up to redeem proceedings and add weight to the ephemeral musings.

  • The Muppets

    The Muppets

    ★★★★

    The waves of nostalgia washed over me. I was taken back to my childhood, Saturday mornings basking in the electromagnetic glow of our old Philips K9 TV, watching the genius of Jim Henson and Frank Oz at work, Miss Piggy hi-ya-ing anyone and everyone, mainly poor Kermie, Fozzie's terrible jokes, wocka wocka, Gonzo flying through the air, Animal being, well, AN-I-MAAAAL, Beaker getting horrifically transmogrified, the Swedish Chef, bork, bork, bork. This film had it all. Sure, now Henson and Oz aren't there the voices aren't quite the same, but the new ones are close enough. And there were fart shoes. Fart shoes!

  • War of the Worlds

    War of the Worlds

    ★★★★

    I enjoyed this. Bite me. Yeah, the alien motives and methods don't stand much scrutiny and the ending is trite, though the demise of the aliens is the same as H G Wells' original. But this is, after all, a story about humanity's issues in the face of an overwhelming foe, not about the foe itself. Spielberg's grandness is to the forefront, but amongst all the SFX and Tom Cruise's personality it's still possible to appreciate the psychologies at work: the stand and fight, the flight, the herd mentality, the madness. And to cheer when those dastardly aliens get their comeuppance.

  • Under Siege

    Under Siege

    ★★★★

    What's this? A Steven Seagal movie that doesn't suck big giant kumaras? Sure, his "acting" is as wooden as a fencepost as always, but the stoic SEAL-cum-cook Ryback character fits him like a glove, and surrounding him with out-sized personas Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey strikes a strange kind of unbalanced dynamic, much like a drinking bird toy that explodes every now and again.

  • The Guard

    The Guard

    ★★★★

    "I'll go slip into something a little less comfortable."

    Brendan Gleeson is the show, the whole show and nothing but the show. Ireland is quaint and wet and incomprehensible as always, the story serviceable, the direction most able and the supporting actors all do a fine job, but Gleeson's Sergeant Gerry Boyle is a character for the ages.

  • War Horse

    War Horse

    ★★★★

    When my partner — sniffing with what she later said was "hayfever" — and I left the theatre, we spied a goodly number of the audience dabbing at their eyes with tissues. Either pollen was spewing from a malfunctioning Smell-o-Vision or Spielberg hit all the emotional buttons he was after. It might be war-lite to garner a wider audience, but this vision of WWI still packs an emotional punch.

  • Starship Troopers

    Starship Troopers

    ★★★★

    Ultra-violence! In space! With bugs! A fun satirical romp. But not one for the military strategists: the space marines just plain suck. Surely if we have mastered FTL travel, which I'm pretty sure would involve command of the fabric of space-time to some degree, then you'd think we'd have remote weaponry that would stomp all over those alien insects without having to endanger one solitary smooth-skinned, perfect-toothed soldier. I guess that would make for a boring satire, though.

  • Brazil

    Brazil

    ★★★★

    Terry Gilliam turns the dystopian dial up to 11 and re-imagines 1984 as full of demented, incompetent bureaucrats and Monty Python-esque machines. As an indictment on the chilling human propensity for paperwork and sheepishly accepting patently absurd governments, it does its job. But where it shines is Gilliam's visual acumen. It is quite the ocular feast.

  • Taken

    Taken

    ★★★★

    Who hasn't had a revenge fantasy exactly like this film? Well, maybe not exactly, but close enough.

  • Inception

    Inception

    ★★★★

    Rather straightforward for all of its deceptive complications: its many layers are quite recognisable. Indeed, if you step back it is all quite sane. Even the ambiguous ending isn't so much a potential twist as possibly another layer to a greater story. Like the story, the characters are not quite as dimensional as they may appear. Not that it really matters when the tapestry is so rich, but an arc or two would have been appreciated.

  • The Adventures of Tintin

    The Adventures of Tintin

    ★★★★

    Billions of blistering blue barnacles, what would it be like to watch this without knowing about Tintin and his world? I have no idea, as I've read all the books more times than I can count, often staring for epochs at some of Hergé's full page illustrations. Having all of that Tintin history, all I can say is that the film perfectly captured the matinée adventure feel of the books and that the look of Tintin, Snowy, Captain Haddock and other minor characters is done no harm with the increased fidelity of 21st century CGI techniques.