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In Bruges - Film Review.

In Bruges

Director: Martin McDonagh

Two hitmen, Ray and Ken (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson), are sent to hide in the city of Bruges in Belgium, after a job goes horribly wrong. Much to the reluctance of Ray, they are forced to share a small room together and stay in Bruges for two weeks. Despite Rays hesitance to visit and site-see throughout the city, he soon becomes familiar with many of the locals, including a dwarf actor (Jordan Prentice) and Chloe, a woman who catches his eye (Clémence Poésy). Yet the fear of the hitmens psychotic boss Harry (Ralph Fiennes), ensures Ray and Ken cannot relax for too long.

This hilarious, but very violent crime caper, has been superbly scripted by director McDonagh to provide Colin Farrell with one of his best roles in years. Despite the reliance on many four letter expletives, both the dialogue and its delivery are sharp and very well timed by the cast. Much of the humour is also derived from Farrell's childlike sulking and tantrums, particularly at the beginning of the film. There are great moments like when he finds himself brawling with overweight locals, or when he shuffling his feet along the ground like a child, as he is dragged by Ken to various attractions.

The audience is also allowed to relish in the interesting and unique setting of Bruges too. McDonagh and cinematographer Eigil Bryld shot the film on location and together they have beautifully photographed the city and captured much of the medieval architecture on screen, showing a real appreciation for Bruges and its culture. The plot of the film, while not particularly deep or highly complex, does consider themes of guilt and anguish, while there are a few twists as we soon discover what really happened to Ray on the job. Farrell's character is not simply a caricature of a bumbling hitman, but rather someone who is uncomfortable, uncivilized and grieving all the same. His performance really carries the film throughout its duration.

Perhaps the films finale is overly brutal and violent in its climax; somewhat downing the humour of the rest film, but audiences should make up the own minds. This is not a particularly innovative film of the British crime genre, but it is still a very witty, action filled caper, with solid performances, that will ensure that you will never have to ask where Bruges is again.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army Film Review

Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Thousands of years ago a battle between humans and mystical creatures raged on. Having been ravaged by the invention of a Golden Army – thousands of giant mechanical foes – humanity sought a truce with the monsters. A crown that allowed its beholder to control the Golden Army - was separated into several pieces. In the present day, the King's son – Prince Nuada (Luke Goss), who disagreed with the truce – murders his father and steals the remaining pieces of the crown. Hellboy (Ron Perlman), who has continued to work with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, is having trouble living with his girlfriend (Selma Blair). Along with the rest of the investigation team, they must track down Prince Nuada and stop him from retaining the final piece of the crown, held by his own sister.

Guillermo del Toro, who wrote and directed this flash sequel to the 2004 original, has delivered a predictable but wholly likeable and fun film, that is a visual treat. Del Toro, as he showed with Pan's Labyrinth, has a talent for elaborate monster design, and here he is aided by some impressive special effects and makeup work, that brings the comic world of Hellboy alive. Yet the real strength of the film is its retention of the comic humour that made the first film so popular. Ron Perlman, reprising his role as Hellboy, seems to be realishing his part as the irresponsible, clumsy but resourceful demon.

He has many of the films funniest and coolest lines, and deliveries them with acute timing. He is a great hero. The inclusion of a strictly efficient, by the book German robot is another delight too, while Luke Goss – as the samurai-like Prince – is a handy villain. The story of the film is unsurprisingly minimal, with issues of isolation and responsibility very mildly touched upon, but as the film is intended for comic book and superhero enthusiasts, they are unlikely to mind. Hellboy II: The Golden Army, while light on surprises, is another action and humour filled adventure film, that is set to make the future of director Del Toro all the more intriguing.

The Birds - Film Review


Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock.

A woman named Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren) is in San Francisco when she meets a lawyer - Mitch Brenner (Rod Taylor) - whom she had a dispute with in court. She decides to track the man to a small town in California. While at odds with each other at first, the two predictably come together, but find their romance interrupted by random attacks of killer birds.

While touted for it's visual effects and gore, it seems to be director Hitchcock's own name that has given The Birds a reputation and status. The film however is plagued by wooden performances and laughably bad dialogue that weakens the characterisation and any attempt to take the film as seriously as it would like to be. The romantic plot – which takes up nearly half the film – is painfully strained between the leads, and lacks the subtlety and wit of those that it is trying to imitate.

As the film finally reaches it's point – the actual birds – there just isn't enough reason to care. Too much time has already been spent on the dull exposition of characters, so blatantly annoying and phoney, that you're never concerned of their wellbeing. The lack of any real conclusion or answer to this ridiculous premise remains further insulting.

The special effects are impressive though - particularly given the era in which the picture was made but it doesn't stop the the film from being a passive experience, devoid of any real tension. A hangover after Psycho, The Birds is a wholly depressing and inconclusive film.

The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight

Directed By: Christopher Nolan.

When a new District Attorney – Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) - launches a campaign against the criminals of Gotham City, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), sees this as an opportunity to resign as Batman. His love Rachel Dawes, who is dating Dent, will only be with Bruce the day that Gotham does not need Batman. A new villain though, The Joker (Heath Ledger), a man of violence, manipulation and trickery, begins to hold the city and its citizens as hostages. The Dark Knight is needed once more.

Director Christoper Nolan, who co-wrote the film with his brother, has crafted perhaps the very best of all the s uperhero films. The Dark Knight is a visceral, mature and intense picture, aided by dazzling stunts and special effects, and a superb cast, led by both Christian Bale and the late Heath Ledger.

The hype surrounding Ledgers performance in particular, has been justified. The transformation of his appearance, with the thick white makeup shrouding his face and his matted, blonde hair, renders him unrecognisable. Yet it also the efforts of his own altered voice that provide his character with a creepy and almost childish tone that makes him wholly repelling and at the same time completely watchable. It is a rare performance that makes you forget about the actor playing the part and immerses the audience into the character. Bale, while in a far less showy performance, is solid once more as the sometimes arrogant and always assured Bruce Wayne. He again manages to provide a strong figure for his alter ego Batman in the action sequences.

While true to the comic books, with many references and inspirations from the pages, the film ventures deeper as a thriller with political undertones as well. The Joker is referred to as a terrorist through the film and there are chilling moments like that where he tortures his victims on a video tape, or as firefights scramble across the wreckage of a building, that we are reminded that this is most definitely a post-September 11 film. The real fear The Joker generates is perhaps not just in his appearance or his violent nature, but in the way the film has been grounded as a realistic thriller in a society we recognise. He is human and his ability to do what he does in the world makes him scary.

Nolan handles the action sequences perhaps more confidently than in Batman Begins, which was plagued somewhat by a troublesome handheld camera. While some scenes remain chaotic here, they are not overly so, and both the booming sound effects, editing and thunderous score provide the picture with tension and drama. The film is often at its most intense though in the build up to the action scenes, where we are just waiting for something to happen. It is an achievement for director Nolan to have captured the fear of a city and its citizens like few have done before.

Though at 150 minutes it almost exhausting for the audience to keep up with this degree of intensity. The film is indeed overlong but it is still never dull. Those willing to dismiss this as yet another superhero film or immature because it is based on a comic book, are set to be shocked by the quality of Nolan's direction of chaos and the ability of his actors to present characters that are, like much of the film, compelling and true to their source.

PC Gaming Isn't Dying Official Merchandise

Valve is cool. So am I.

Inspired by the glowing response to the STRELOK limited edition autograph signed by myself, here is my response to those other developers who think that PC Gaming is dead and having its eulogy read. I think it would sound something like this:

"PC Gaming was such a gentle platform, kind to those with decent hardware, always willing to give high resolutions to those in need."

WOW! Its a Mass Arrival!

Well I have just installed Mass Effect and I am about to play it! My exams are finished so I am excited to see how this game goes with all the hype and talk up about it.

What a great game so far! The presentation is so slick and cinematic! This has really made my day!!

EDIT: I have just installed my free trial of yes, World of Warcraft lol. I have waited a long time to play this game. The fiend that stole the GOTY crown from HL2. I will update soon on my first impressions. Looking forward to it! xx

Stalker Review posted!

Well its been a while coming but I've posted my review of Stalker!

Check out the score, leave a comment but don't forget to rate the review!!

The first users to rate the review will go into the draw to have their photo taken with myself and Strelok himself! Don't miss out!




-BL (Chancellor for the PC Games Forum)