Friday, 20 January 2012

War Horse - Phil's Five Words for Films

War Horse Somewhere between 'Saving Private Ryan' and 'Babe' is where you will find Steven Spielberg's latest war epic. When you do find it, it will be sitting in the middle of an orchestra pit covered in treacle and dusted with sugar, trying too hard to make you laugh and cry and then running off to talk to someone else. I may not be the target audience for this film but I just found it too broken up, too bitty to care about and utterly predictable. The book is apparently told from the horse's view point and maybe that helps keep some continuity, but the characters in the film come and go too quickly. John Williams' score lets you know in advance when it is time to say goodbye to a friend or laugh at a goose and the whole thing is shot in glorious, sickly Emotivision. The battle scenes are huge, epic and well done but fall short of being classic and the emotion-by-numbers approach just left me feeling manipulated - and not in a good way. More sad looking horse close-ups than a SJP film and too many sugary cliches for me. I'm not a horse person but I expected to care more than I did. Just go the whole-hog and make the horse speak. Over-sentimentalised.

5.5 out of 10 ( mainly for the huge production )
Cert 12A ( uk ).

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Hugo - Phil's Five Words for Films

Hugo (seen in 3D) Set in Paris and brimming with British acting talent, Martin Scorsese's latest film takes us in to the magical world of cinema and childhood adventure. Scorsese obviously cares passionately about the history of film and has used the latest 3D technology to create a beautiful looking homage to early cinema and storytelling. Most of the year's 3d efforts have been disappointing but here it certainly adds to the lavish backdrops and is nicely tied in to the history of film production. There are some great performances, most noticeably Asa Butterfield ( Hugo ), Sacha Baron Cohen ( Station Master) and Ben Kingsley ( George Melies ) but it is the history and visuals of the film that really stick with you. The story seems slightly plodding in places and lacking a little emotionally - it is difficult to put your finger on what is missing here. All the ingredients are there but, for me, it didn't quite have the magic I was hoping for - I doubt I would sit through it twice. A pleasant story that looks great but lacks just a little magic.

7.5 out of 10
Cert U. (uk)