Your Reviews

Talent Development participants and Review of the Week winners tell us more about what they think of new (and sometimes old!) movies.

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Willow by Ciaran, age 11

It was a very interesting film and these are some of the things I like and disliked about Willow; I thought that the story line was good, but some of it was too much like other films. I love Warwick Davis (playing as Willow) I think he is one of the best actors in the filming industry.

Some of the special effects were extremely fake; the two headed monster and the really, really small people were way over the top. A quote from my little brother said, "The fighting at the end of the film was so cool and when they were running away from that chariot it was jaw dropping." We couldn’t stop laughing when we saw a strong and brave man dressed up as a lady.


This film is a comedy-action pact-romance filled with wonders that blew me away for a 1988’s film. Great for the family.

Winter's Bone by Jay, 15

Seeing areas of extreme poverty in one of the wealthiest Countries in the world is something of a sucker punch. It is often hard to acknowledge that poverty is not just confined to the hot plains of Africa but is a universal problem. Winter’s Bone is set in one of America’s poorest regions where behaviour is wildly unpredictable and the rules of life are etiquette. 17 year-old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) is forced to find her meth-head father after he skips bail by putting the house on it; if she cannot find him, she, her younger siblings and her invalid mother lose everything. Ree is forced to confront the local people (many of whom share blood ties) in order to find him and is met first with distrust, then hostility, before finally in outright violence.

Winter’s Bone is a pretty blunt but equally artistic film. The gothic, ominous scenery inspires dread in the viewer but little wide shots are used; instead, direction focuses more on the characters populating the barren area. The film has dark subject matter but crucially doesn’t languish in its misery (the number of low-budget, off-beat films that fail to do anything but illustrate how misfortunate things are in them). Rather, Winter’s Bone presses on with aplomb with its plotline and wisely runs at only 90-odd minutes so as not to drag on.


What makes Winter’s bone stand out is the flawless acting. Jennifer Lawrence is a force of nature, standing unrelenting even against the wrath of a town. John Hawkes is a sinister presence as Ree’s erratic uncle Teardrop with bottomless chasm-like eyes and eruptions of fierce aggression. Both are backed by a tremendous support cast too. In short, Winter’s Bone is an intense ride that bravely refuses to take a bias, revolving instead around the central struggle of the unwavering, unfaltering Ree.

Krull by Neil, 16

Krull (which sounds like Krill, a sea creature that whales like, or Cull, something farmers don’t like) is cheesy, dated and clichéd action fantasy film. All these can be tolerated but stupidity, bad acting and unoriginality cannot be, and Krull has a lot of these. It is competently directed by Peter Yates, who manages to capture some great mountain views, but the idea of King Arthur taking on a monster from a bad horror film with a weapon that looks like a starfish in an eclectic series of expensive sets with the help of people dressed as Robin Hood's Merry Men and some a one eyed fella resembling a character from the Never Ending Story (which knew to end at the one-and-a-half hour mark rather than Krull‘s two hours) does not work.

The film is derivative as it opens with the exact same theme as Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan (James Horner scored both of them), uses a Star Wars style opening, kids fantasy style characters and Indiana Jones action scenes. The logic lacks in the sense that the Merry Men (aside from including Liam Neeson, not his best role) fight advanced aliens with axes and arrows while the devastation visited upon Krull is mentioned but never seen. And for the sake of showing off what I learned in Biology, the Cyclops’s ancestors gave up one eye to see into the future but their descendants have only one eye and acquired traits cannot be passed onto children. Also the acting’s wooden, particularly from its star who suddenly changes from inexperienced prince put into a marriage more rushed than the one in Out Of Africa to, well, I couldn’t see any character change at all, just him moving with the plot.


Despite good special effects, make-up, costumes and lavish sets Krull lacks originality and common sense. Good for those interested in cult films though. Another thing, if a Cyclops closes its eye, will it blink or wink?

Monsters by Neil, 16

Monsters is a surprising debut from new guy Gareth Edwards, but made with a lot of skill and ambition. The concept is similar to District 9 with aliens having become entrenched but unwelcome residents in Northern Mexico, a place few want to be never mind live (why do you think the US spends son much money on its southern border). Monsters is ambitious and a rather large scale film despite being made with only $500,000 and the director having to double as writer, director, cinematographer and FX designer to stay within budget which is a difficult achievement by any standards.

Of the actors, the Mexicans are not stereotyped and the lead actor Scoot McNairy acts well in presenting his characters mild cynicism and remorse at past deeds without acting like Humphrey Bogart (though he needs a new stage name). The lead actress Whitney Able does not have the same depth but still holds her own with McNairy.


Themes of environmental change and bombing civilians are present (a bit inappropriate now with the whole Afghan situation, the bombing one that is, not all the other situations there) but don’t go all preachy like Avatar and displays high production values though some of the military vehicles are obviously CGI and the use of Digital Video for the sake of the budget was another bad move in cinemas slide towards lower image quality. The ideas are well thought out and I got the feeling that the aliens are like Good, Bad And Ugly Mexican Banditos and the USAF are Wild Bunches of Magnificent Sevens with Clint Eastwood trying to get to safety while protecting a Fist Full Of Dollars all the way there For A Few Dollars More.


There is tension in every scene and the ending is a spectacularly intelligent demonstration of aliens meeting and getting it on in public which serves as a parallel to the failed romance of the main characters which Edwards holds until the end where lesser director would have allowed to happen at the start of the third act. Had this been a Sci-Fi Channel event or an Asylum release then it would have been a badly made exploitation gore film but in Edward's hands it becomes a relationship drama that only uses the title characters when they are needed, not when their desired.


That’s what modern horror does not understand, that if you get a good looking couple and some scary monsters it doesn’t mean that throwing them on screen all the time will make the audience throw its lunch up there as well, Roger Ebert will just throw his thumbs down at it, you need to draw things out and build up like Monsters does.




More from FILMCLUB

>> On the Blog: More Monstrers reviews by Hannah and Joe
>> Films by theme: Monsters


The Land Before Time by Scott, 9

I loved this film it was brilliant. I don't really like Cera much though. all the characters are really cute except Sharptooth. It is a very creative and imaginative film and it has good graphics. I really enjoyed it I have watched it many times.

My favourite part is when Littlefoot and Ducky find Petree. My favourite character is Spike the greedy, lazy Spiketail. This film makes you feel emotional, in the sad bits you feel sad and in the happy bits you feel happy. I like the bit when petree learns to flie because he acts as if he is really brave. My second favourite character is Ducky because she has really big, cute eyes. I like the bit when you get to see ducky swimming because she's really fast.

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