SteveParkes’s Film Reviews
About me: I'm a former journalist & now work in the state sector. I review films at the popculture blog Poplitiko.
My website: poplitiko.blogspot.com/.
30 Films have been rated or reviewed by SteveParkes.
- Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
- As derivative as it is in some ways, it seems positively refreshing after the "grim and gritty" turn in the Bond franchise. What a "blockbuster" mainstream Hollywood film should be.
- DVD $15, $34.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95, $39.95
- Avengers, The (Marvel's Avengers) (2012)
- The multi–superhero epic that should have been made sooner. Unimaginative \'origin movie\' plot aside, everything is executed perfectly by Whedon & co. A good cast support snappy dialogue and some excellent action correography.
$15 $7.50, $39.95 | Blu-Ray $49.95
- Let Me In (2010)
- I\'m still ambivalent as to whether there is any need for this remake, but that aside it is very well done. It\'s slightly less subtle than the earlier Swedish version, but retains the main qualities: good acting, great ambiance, chilling set pieces.
- Let The Right One In (2008)
- A horror story with a subtle mythic feel along with unsettling rather than extreme violence. The central relationship is expertly handled – both touching and disturbing. The atmosphere is both figuratively and literally chilling.
- Great Gatsby, The (1974)
- A competent if uninspiring & overly literal adaptation of the brilliant novel. Evocative of the period, with generally good performances, especially from Waterston, who portrays Nick Carraway with an appropriate sense of slightly aloof dignity.
- Blu-Ray $19.95
- Walkabout (1970)
- A nuanced film about culture and communication. Occasionally clumsy in juggling its themes, Walkabout is for the most part mysterious, visually strong, and not a simplistic “noble savage = good; modern life = hollow” tale that some think
- DVD $19.95 | Blu-Ray $29.95
- Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)
- Less interesting than the 1946 version, Nicholson in particular is utterly unsympathetic. More tawdry sex than the earlier film (apparently more like the book), but that\'s all it has to offer.
- DVD $35
- Asphalt Jungle, The (1950)
- A very influential, archetypal crime movie, The Asphalt Jungle is a must watch for cineasts. It’s got an effective atmosphere, and the untangling of the heist is nicely understated. Engenders a good degree of sympathy in the characters. A little didactic.
- Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
- Good performances, especially from Turner & Cronyn, whose devious defence lawyer may be my favourite part of the movie. There’s a vulnerability to both leads, & a precariousness to their criminal plotting, that lends the movie an odd kind of authenticity.
- Mildred Pierce (1945)
- Has an essentially conservative outlook, but the social anxieties of the time are nicely laid bare. Based on the novel by James Cain, Ranald MacDougall\'s screenplay is sharp, Michael Curtiz\'s direction slick, the atmosphere subtly bleak.
- Fringe (TV Series) (2008)
- Yeah what Aro Video said.
$25 $18.75, $25 $18.75, $25 $18.75, $25 $18.75
- Hanna (2011)
- Example of a film being good with an average script. The script is not poor, but it is fairly slight. Uses sound & vision to create one of the most entertaining films of last year. Great performances & soundtrack complete a shinny action movie.
- Piranha (2010)
- Begins with beautiful landscapes & bodies, and continues with beautiful gore. Climax like a Normandy beech invasion (medics desperately help dismembered survivors struggling ashore). B–grade fun with good sense of humour, clever cast & 70s–horror patina.
- Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (2010)
- Faithful movie adaptation of the comic it's based on, this works by showing an appealing merge of the formal qualities of both media. Rife with clever dialogue and visuals, it embodies 'comic' fun in both senses of the word.
- DVD $39.95
- Kick-Ass (2010)
- Affectionate superhero satire; great action; hilarious black comedy; nice coming of age story with a great message for kids about keeping things in perspective. Shame about the rating; if they put in a bit of Christian torture porn it could’ve been R16.
$15 $11.25, $29.95
- Sherlock Holmes (2009)
- Trailers looked bad, but was pretty good. The 'supernatural' tease was well handled. RDJ was likable, Strong was a good baddy, decent script, Ritchie’s directorial style suited the material. Saved me from a bitterly cold afternoon stuck in Invercargill.
$10 $5, $14.95 | Blu-Ray $49.95
- Avatar (2009)
- Cameron can wend genre tropes into good stories & direct action well. But not here. He even rips off his ideas from earlier films (eg exo–suit from Aliens). Risible dialogue, trite message, simplistic politics, tired & badly constructed plot. And dull.
$15 $11.25, $34.95 | Blu-Ray $25 $18.75, $49.95
- Twelve Monkeys (12 Monkeys) (1996)
- Classic SF thriller; the themes and suspense are ingeniously developed from the time travel plot. Gilliam’s quirky style compliments the clever, slightly surreal, but tight script. Great performances perfect the tragic, compelling story.
- Fast and the Furious 3, The - Tokyo Drift (2006)
- Lin brings deft direction, the car races, set in an interesting cramped urban milieu, are much improved. Embracing the trashy but slick nature that such a film should, surprisingly, this is easily the best of the series. 楽しみ!
- DVD $39.95, $49.95, $74.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
- 2 Fast 2 Furious (Fast and the Furious 2, The) (2003)
- Pointless 2nd instalment moves setting, and just as Miami is a less interesting city than LA, this film is dull by comparison to the 1st. Bland performances and the excessive CG in the car races irritates. It's your old–fashioned cheap, rubbishy sequel.
- DVD $39.95, $49.95, $74.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95
- Fast and the Furious, The (2001)
- Surprise hit & surprisingly entertaining, I can see why petrol heads loved it. I’m not a car nut, but the enthusiasm comes across, just holding my interest. Diesel’s performance managed a certain charisma. Forgettable fun.
- DVD $19.95, $49.95 | Blu-Ray $39.95, $44.95
- Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The (Scaphandre et le papillon, Le) (2007)
- A hypnotic & arresting film, the movie has a sense of the tragedy for Bauby and his family, but it wasn't merely an artful tearjerker. It’s ironic that a film about such a devastating, disconnecting condition should be a rich and human experience.
- Casablanca (1942)
- "Classics" are often of interest but underwhelming (eg Citizen Kane), or outright silly & disappointing (eg Gone with the Wind). Casablanca is what I expect from the term. Gorgeously played in every respect, it puts the class in classic.
- Donnie Darko (2001)
- Touches on so many genres that it's hard to define. The original theatrical cut is perfectly balanced in its dream–like fantasy atmosphere, sci–fi plot details & period piece feel. Well crafted but also has that ‘x–factor’ that makes a classic.
- DVD $19.95 | Blu-Ray $24.95
- Hangover, The (2009)
- Cleverer than usual ‘crude–comedy’, it has a well constructed script, and is solidly crafted and acted. I expected more ‘side splitting’ and cringe–inducing scenes, but it was really no more bad taste than a Farrelly Bros pic. Still, well hungover.
$12 $6, $39.95 | Blu-Ray $49.95
- Natural Born Killers (1994)
- Stylised but not stylish, it satirises the ‘MTV Generation’, CNN, E! channel zeitgeist by mimicking it, but its observations are mostly trite. You get better media parody in an average Simpsons episode. Despite OTT styling & violence, it’s vanilla satire.
- Southland Tales (2006)
- Satirical epic; epic fail. Incoherent, pretentious, derivative, forced. Still, ambitious and a bit of fun, with a good soundtrack & some nice scenes (eg Timberlake’s The Killers sing–along, car ad, blood squibs).
- DVD $24.95 | Blu-Ray $29.95
- Up in the Air (2009)
- Rom–com with a dash of politics, but it’s myopic to see this film purely in those terms. A rare instance of Hollywood living up to its own hype: it’s about a man trying to make a connection in a world increasingly built around superficial connectedness.
$12.50 $6.25, $20 $15
- Serious Man, A (2009)
- Fun, effective satire with a great lead performance. But with the exception of the protagonist, physics teacher Larry Gopnik, the characters are flat, no one is really likeable, and almost everyone is infuriatingly selfish. Caricature overdose, perhaps.
- No Man's Land (2001)
- Does a competent job blending genres: war, sit com, tragedy, satire, farce, thriller. Criticism was that it has little to say other than 'war is hell'. That’s true of many war films. It’s a 'shooting fish in a barrel' thing – war is easy to satirize.
$15 $11.25, $29.95 $15