Category Archives: UK Movies

A Few Best Men (2012) – Australia / UK

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 12th January 2013
Reviewed as part of Film Critic Circle of Australia Awards Nomination 2012

Australian Box Office Takings: AU$5,041,931

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Director: Stephan Elliott
Writer: Dean Craig
Stars: Laura Brent, Xavier Samuel and Kris Marshall

What I look for in comedies are plenty of laughters, lots of laugh out loud moments and essentially a film that is funny right from the get go. It is good news to announce that “A Few Best Men” delivers exactly and in doing so, it even manages to converge both British and Australian humour packaged into a highly hilarious film. Sure, the film takes plenty of situation comic moments from a much bigger film (“Hangover”) including the use of a certain animal as a central gag and a group guys going crazy before a wedding. However, “A Few Best Men” manages to stay fresh, wonderful comic timing and chemistry between British and Australian co-stars and a beautiful landscape of the very best shots of Blue Mountain that one will possibly ever see. Director Stephan Elliott should be proud of this achievement as this is most certainly a massive fun ride.

Xavier Samuel headlines the film as the Britsh guy about to marry his Australian sweetheart (played by Laura Brent). Samuel manages to put in an efficient performance and carries the film like a rock. However, Samuel is easily upstaged by his comic counterparts namely Kris Marshall and Kevin Bishop, In fact, it is Marshall and Bishop combo of comic antics that drives the film forward and providing the audience with plenty to laugh about. Laura Brent who plays the bride to be, is beautiful to look at, without adding much to her role. While, Jonathan Biggins is stoically funny as the retiring senator and father of the bride. As for the much missed, Olivia Newton-John who plays the mother of the bride, simply oozes with screen presences and is always a joy to watch. However, the highlight moment of the film comes in the form of a hilarious extended cameo from Steve Le Marquand whose drug dealer role simply steals the show with an over-the top performance.

All in all, “A Few Best Men” is unlikely to win any awards, but in terms of pure entertainment value, it scores highly by being outright funny. Despite the not being original in its approach to things, the film still manages to have one gag after another. What I truly enjoyed about this film, is its ability to be predictable and hilarious at the same time. Surprisingly for a comedy, “A Few Best Men” at times stunning to look at, this is especially evident the final scenes of the film, where the romantic pair lock lips within the exhilarating backdrop of the vast Blue Mountain. Sure, “A Few Best Men” may not be entirely memorable or worth remembering after the credit ends, but for its entire duration, it is really 90 minutes of fun. Then again, the film is probably funnier if you are either British or Australian. Now let’s insert a ram joke! (Neo 2013)

I rated it 7/10

Dredd 3D 新特警判官3D (2012) – United Kingdom / South Africa

Review by: Andrew Chan FCCA AACTA
Review Date: 24th October 2012
Releasing in cinemas across Hong Kong and Australia from October 18th

Few remakes stand up well with its predecessor, but the latest “Dredd” goes one better by being bloodier, more violent, more shocking and more relevant.

With the recent high profile remake failure of “Total Recall”, the expectations for Stallone’s “Judge Dredd” remake did not come with much expectation. However, “Dredd”, the $45 million British production, fits the bill; stand up in its own right by being grittier, bloodier and suitably engaging throughout. Karl Urban continues his “Doom” action form is almost Stallone-like as the title character and the film is enhanced by some exquisite bloody effects. The slashing of throats, arms and legs combines well with the skinned bodies and death defining bullet shots, all helps to make “Dredd” a true action blockbuster for all. Screenwriter Alex Garland who previous wrote the heavy and complicated “Never Let Me Go”, goes simpler this time around and let the film focus on what it does best – action.

Relatively newcomer Karl Urban (“Doom”) dons the helmet for the entire movie. Acting behind a helmet or mask that covers your eyes is never easy, think Tom Hardy as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises”. However, Urban oozes in physical presences and his coarse voice combines well with his ironic smile making him a perfect action hero to follow. There are some scenes where Urban seems to be mimicking Stallone’s stoic style, but as a whole, it is exactly what you call a highly efficient performance. Another newcomer comes in the form of Olivia Thirlby (“Nobody Walks”) who reminds us of a young Milla Jovovich. There is something about the young heroine that makes her edgy, femme fatal and yet there is a sense of vulnerability underneath her. Not unlike Milla, Thirlby is tough and being the one of the two judges without a helmet, she carries the film particularly well, especially the numerous reaction after each brutal and totally gore-like killings. As villain, Lean Headey (“300”) is absolutely menacing and provides the film with the most complicated and flawed character to boot. It is a shame that not more of her past is being shown, as there are layers beneath her eyes which buries those unforgettable whoring years that made her essentially cold-blooded and driven.

Director Peter Travis (“Vantage Point”) uses shock, blood and violence to captivate the audience attention from start to finish. This is done particularly well to the maximum effect, through some startling and creative death designs and plenty of well-timed slow-mo effects. Slow motion can easily be overused and becomes all the most annoying, but rather in this film, it signals the terrible effects of drugs that prolong the agony in the process of falling to death. The scene near the end is suitably ironic as Headey met her fate.

All in all, “Dredd” is exactly what it wants to be, to be brutally violent, filled with non-stop bullet counts and some truly heart-stopping ways of blowing off a head/body part or everything else you can imagine. The film falls short of explaining more about the differences between making a differences and the reality of the situation and the critical dilemma that people like Judge Dredd faces. There is really not much wrong with “Dredd”, although the manner, in which Dredd is saved near the end, seems rather illogical and unbelievable. Still, “Dredd” as a whole is good entertainment and if you are thirsting for unlimited blood, condemning violence and pure gore and straight on brutality, then this film does exactly that. (Neo 2012)

I rated it 8/10

The Lady (2011) – France / UK

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A feature of Luc Besson’s is that he is never shy of portraying woman as powerful, strong willed and independent. Here in The Lady, Besson goes half-baked and skimmed the film real central issue of freedom and opted for a love story. To say Michelle Yeoh’s performance as good is rather underrated as she oozes with fine screen presence and created a character that is not only able to relate to the audience, but also carries the film with strong willed temperament. The Lady ultimate is a film of unfulfilled potential, it wrongfully focuses on a love story, rather than how freedom is so crucial to the people of Burma.

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Michelle Yeoh brings her character to life and possesses an uncanny resemblance to the actual Aung San Suu Kyi. In fact Yeoh has aged well and in the process able to depict a person that is calm, collected, inspired and extremely strong willed mindset. There is no moment of doubt in the audience mind that Yeoh will not go through with what she believes in so strongly, despite the hardship and harsh moments along the way. It is probably Ms Yeoh’s best rounded performance in years. Likewise, her husband played by (David Thewlis) is extremely effective as the supportive partner and father of the two children. Although there is nothing flashy about the role, the manner he approached the character is a perfect complement to Yeoh’s determination.

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All in all, The Lady is a without doubt beautiful to look at as with most Luc Besson’s films. However the film loses its focus by spending too much time on the love story rather than the political situation in Burma instead. It is a shame as far too often, there are scenes of Thewlis cooking and washing, when those minutes could either be cut or provide a little more insight into the brutal Burma’s military regime. Still, The Lady remains a fine piece of cinema, even if it is a little flawed…

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Neo rates it 7.5/10