J

"His twin sister is coming for the holidays... And it ain't pretty!"
"His twin sister is coming for the holidays... And it ain't pretty!"
JACK & JILL (PG)
D: Dennis Dugan
Columbia/Happy Madison (Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo & Todd Garner)
US 2011
91 mins

Comedy

W: Steve Koren & Adam Sandler
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Tom Costain
Mus: Rupert Gregson-Williams & Waddy Wachtel

Adam Sandler (Jack Sadelstein), Adam Sandler (Jill Sadelstein), Katie Holmes (Erin Sadelstein), Al Pacino (himself), David Spade (Monica)

Whether you like him or not, you get a double dose of Adam Sandler in Jack & Jill, as he plays both twins in this woefully unfunny comedy which swept the board at the Golden Raspberry Awards, winning in every single category in which it was nominated for a record haul of 10 'awards'. 
Jack is an advertising producer whose obnoxiously annoying twin sister, Jill, is arriving for the holidays. Al Pacino (playing himself) becomes obsessed with Jill for some reason, which is perfect for Jack, who requires Al Pacino for a Dunkin Donuts commercial.
The whole film can be summed up with Pacino's reaction to the TV advert when he uses the words "Burn this. Every single copy. It must not be seen by anyone".
1/10

"Jack Frost is getting a second chance to be the world's coolest dad... If he doesn't melt first."
"Jack Frost is getting a second chance to be the world's coolest dad... If he doesn't melt first."

JACK FROST (PG)

D: Troy Miller
Warner Bros. (Irving Azoff & Mark Canton)
US 1998
101 mins
 
Fantasy 
 
W: Mark Steven Johnson, Steve Bloom & Jonathan Roberts
DP: Laszlo Kovacs
Ed: Lawrence Jordan
Mus: Trevor Rabin
PD: Mayne Berke
 
Michael Keaton (Jack Frost), Kelly Preston (Gabby Frost), Mark Addy (Mac MacArthur), Joseph Cross (Charlie Frost), Andy Lawrence (Tuck Gronic) 
 
Michael Keaton slums in this family movie about a musician who is reincarnated as a snowman so he can continue being a father to his kids.
Undemanding children may enjoy it, but it really lacks enough magic for anyone else to immerse themselves into. The special effects aren't that great and it's all rather derivative of Raymond Briggs' story The Snowman, although it lacks all the charm.
Not to be confused with a 1997 film of the same name, which is a horror movie. 
4/10
 
"The law has limits. He does not."
"The law has limits. He does not."
JACK REACHER (15)
D: Christopher McQuarrie
Paramount/Skydance (Tom Cruise, Paula Wagner, Gary Levinsohn & Dana Goldberg)
US 2012
130 mins

Action/Crime/Thriller

W: Christopher McQuarrie [based on the book "One Shot" by Lee Child]
DP: Caleb Deschanel
Ed: Kevin Stitt
Mus: Joe Kraemer

Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Rosamund Pike (Helen Rodin), Richard Jenkins (Alex Rodin), Jai Courtney (Charlie), Werner Herzog (Zec Chelovek), David Oyelowo (Emerson), Joseph Sikora (James Barr), Robert Duvall (Martin Cash)

Surprisingly better than expected, although I must admit it did seem like a Tom Cruise ego-trip. I've not read the novel this was based on, but it's easy to understand why fans of the book deemed Cruise as miscast, height aside, his character was simply too likeable for someone who I feel was meant to be morally dubious, nevertheless, for story alone, this was an enjoyable action-thriller.
The first three-quarters of the movie surrounds a man framed for the homicide of 5 strangers, asking for Jack Reacher personally before being beaten by other prison inmates into a coma.
Jack Reacher, an army detective, then teams up with the framed man's attorney as they chase the real culprits.         
The final quarter goes straight into your typical action movie, which was a slight shame because it had all been quite intelligent up to that point. Still, the action was enough to maintain tension and was well directed and choreographed.
I expected little from this movie but was entertained throughout, striking some similarities with the first (and best) season of the TV show Prison Break.
6/10

JACK REACHER: NEVER GO BACK (12)

D: Edward Zwick

Paramount/Skydance (Tom Cruise, Don Granger & Christopher McQuarrie)

US 2016

118 mins


Action/Thriller


W: Richard Wenk, Edward Zwick & Marshall Herskovitz [based on the novel 'Never Go Back' by Lee Child]

DP: Oliver Wood

Ed: Billy Weber

Mus: Henry Jackman


Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher), Cobie Smulders (Maj. Susan Turner), Aldis Hodge (Capt. Anthony Espin), Danika Yarosh (Samantha Dutton), Patrick Heusinger (The Hunter), Holt McCallany (Col. Sam Morgan)


Jack Reacher returns in this disappointingly by-the-numbers sequel, which fails to live up to the excitement of the first film, despite having a far more experienced director at the helm in Edward Zwick.

The story follows the ex-military detective as he contacts an old colleague for a meeting, only for her to be accused of espionage and himself a target for assassination. They go on the run, along with a teenage girl who may or may not be Reacher's daughter, and try to identify who framed them, leading to a weapon trading conspiracy at a superior level of the armed forces.

The action scenes are well choreographed, but the plot wastes a lot of time on shaggy dog elements which don't bring any tension or progression to the story.

Overall, the film is nothing more than bang average and Tom Cruise is beginning to look a little too old for these shenanigans.

4/10


JACK THE GIANT KILLER (PG)
D: Nathan Juran
Zenith (Robert E. Kent)
US 1962
94 mins

Fantasy/Adventure

W: Orville Hampton & Nathan Juran
DP: David S. Horsley
Ed: Grant Whytock
Mus: Paul Sawtell & Bert Shefter
PD: Fernando Carrere & Frank McCoy

Kerwin Matthews (Jack), Judi Matthews (Princess Elaine), Torin Thatcher (Pendragon), Don Beddoe (Imp), Walter Burke (Garna), Barry Kelley (Sigurd)

It's unfortunate that many of the production elements have dated over time and though the cinematography, production design, makeup and special effects look ancient by modern standards, the story still feels fresh after 50 years.
Reuniting much of the cast and crew from the original Sinbad films, this fantasy-adventure sees the Princess of Cornwall is kidnapped by an evil wizard, who possesses her with a demon. Jack, a farmer who saved her from a dragon, sets out on a quest to help her, aided by the magic of a leprechaun who lives in a bottle.  
For its time, the special effects are outstanding, and the style of the film, much like a Hammer Horror production, provides some moments which might have been a little too scary for young children of the early 1960's.
It probably deserves a remake, although Hollywood would probably ruin it. (n.b. The 2013 film titled Jack The Giant Slayer is not a remake of this, but rather a reworking of the Jack & The Beanstalk fairy tale)
6/10

JACK THE GIANT SLAYER (12)

D: Bryan Singer

Warner Bros/New Line/Legendary/Original/Big Kid/Bad Hat Harry (Neal H. Moritz, David Dobkin, Bryan Singer, Patrick McCormick & Ori Marmur)

US 2013

114 mins


Fantasy/Adventure


W: Darren Lemke, Dan Studney & Christopher McQuarrie [based on the traditional stories "Jack The Giant Killer" and "Jack & The Beanstalk"]

DP: Newton Thomas Sigel

Ed: John Ottman & Bob Ducsay

Mus: John Ottman


Nicholas Hoult (Jack), Eleanor Tomlinson (Isabelle), Stanley Tucci (Lord Roderick), Ian McShane (King Brahmwell), Ewan McGregor (Elmont)


Despite being originally titled Jack The Giant Killer, this is not a remake of the 1962 fantasy film. It is rather a re-imagination of the fairy tale Jack & The Beanstalk and a folk tale from medieval England.

Anyone familiar with the fairytale will know the majority of the plot, but a bit of romance is shoved into this story, with Jack climbing the beanstalk to enter the land of the giants to rescue a princess, rather than steal gold eggs.

It's quite unfortunate that the film was given a 12 age rating, since the only people who are likely to get any enjoyment from this film will be below that age. For everyone else, it's pretty run-of-the-mill, with inexcusably bad visual effects considering the cost of production was reportedly $195 million.

4/10


"How do you stop an assassin who has no identity?"
"How do you stop an assassin who has no identity?"
THE JACKAL (15)
D: Michael Caton-Jones
Universal/Mutant/Alphaville (James Jacks, Sean Daniel, Michael Caton-Jones & Kevin Jarre)
US 1997
124 mins

Thriller

W: Chuck Pfarrer [based on the novel "The Day Of The Jackal" by Frederick Forsyth]
DP: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
Ed: Jim Clark
Mus: Carter Burwell

Bruce Willis (The Jackal), Richard Gere (Declan Joseph Mulqueen), Sidney Poitier (Carter Preston), Diane Venora (Maj. Valentina Koslova), J.K. Simmons (Timothy Witherspoon), Mathilda May (Isabella Celia Zancona)

Pathetically miscast remake of The Day Of The Jackal (qv). In your face with Bruce Willis' sexual ambiguity as the gunman hired to kill an American politician (he's also far more expensive in this version that the 1974 original).
Willis' performance is Oscar worthy, however, when compared to Richard Gere's laughably bad IRA/KGB/Basque terrorist.
3/10

"Terror has a new name."
"Terror has a new name."
THE JACKET (15)
D: John Maybury
Warner Bros/Mandalay/2929 (Peter Guber, George Clooney & Steven Soderbergh)
US/UK/Germany 2004 (released 2005)
98 mins

Thriller/Science Fiction

W: Massy Tadjedin
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Emma Hickox
Mus: Brian Eno
PD: Alan MacDonald

Adrien Brody (Jack Starks), Keira Knightley (Jackie Price), Kris Kristofferson (Dr. Becker), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dr. Lorenson), Kelly Lynch (Jean Price)

The Jacket is a curious mix of psychological thriller, science fiction, war and even romance which is initially difficult to follow due to the jumbled chronology of the events which transpire.
Gulf war veteran Jack Starks finds himself in a mental asylum, where he is subjected to an experimental method where he is bound in a straightjacket and confined to morgue locker, where he appears to have vivid hallucinations of time travel. It soon becomes apparent the his visions of the future are real, and he uses this gift to solve the mystery of his own death, with the help of an alcoholic woman whom he once helped when she was a child.
The plot was clearly inspired by Twelve Monkeys (qv), but isn't quite as polished, offering no explanation for Jack's abilities other than being a science experiment.
Enjoyable, once you understand what is going on and will be recommended to those who enjoy similar films, such as the above mentioned Twelve Monkeys or Altered States, which have variants on a similar theme. 
Those expecting a horror may be disappointed. It doesn't fall into that particular genre, despite being marketed as one.
6/10

JACKIE (15)

D: Pablo Larrain

Fox Searchlight/Wild Bunch/Why Not/Protozoa (Darren Aronofsky, Juan de Dios Larrain, Mickey Liddell, Scott Franklin & Ari Handel)

US/Chile/France 2016

99 mins


Biopic


W: Noah Oppenheimer

DP: Stéphane Fontaine

Ed: Sebastian Sepulveda

Mus: Mica Levi

PD: Jean Rebasse

Cos: Madeline Fontaine


Natalie Portman (Jacqueline Kennedy), Peter Sarsgaard (Robert Kennedy), Greta Gerwig (Nancy Tuckerman), Caspar Phillipson (John F. Kennedy), John Carroll Lynch (Lyndon B. Johnson), John Hurt (The Priest), Billy Crudup (The Journalist)


Chilean director Pablo Larrain's biopic features a better performance than it does a story, though there aren't enough superlatives to describe how magnetic Natalie Portman's is as former First Lady Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy.

The plot adopts a non-linear route as an unnamed journalist probes Jackie with questions on how she remained dignified and graceful following the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy. 

Wisely steering clear of conspiracy theories and politics, the film focuses solely on a widow's grief and though Jackie may have lived at a very famous address, she was very much a human being.

Kudos also have to go to the production designers who recreate 1960's Washington perfectly, as well as the costume designers who completely recreate Jackie Kennedy's wardrobe.

The plot isn't particularly engaging, especially in a slow-building first two acts, but the lead performance of Natalie Portman is nothing short of tour de force, capturing the accent and mannerisms to absolute perfection.

6/10


"Six players on the trail of half million in cash. There's only one question... Who's playing who?"
"Six players on the trail of half million in cash. There's only one question... Who's playing who?"
JACKIE BROWN (18)
D: Quentin Tarantino
Miramax/A Band Apart (Lawrence Bender)
US 1997
154 mins
 
Crime/Thriller
 
W: Quentin Tarantino [based on the novel 'Rum Punch' by Elmore Leonard]
DP: Guillermo Navarro
Ed: Sally Menke
PD: David Wasco
 
Pam Grier (Jackie Brown), Samuel L. Jackson (Ordell Robbie), Robert Forster (Max Cherry), Robert DeNiro (Louis Gara), Bridget Fonda (Melanie Ralston), Michael Keaton (Ray Nicolette), Michael Bowen (Mark Dargus), Chris Tucker (Beaumont Livingston)   
 
A flight attendant becomes a cash courier for a gangster, and tries to outwit both sides of the law with the help of a bail bondsman.
Aside from two good performances, this is a rather unremarkable film from Quentin Tarantino and ranks as one of his lesser works.   
Of course, it was always going to be difficult to follow up Pulp Fiction, but this is pretty boggy and doesn't quite justify its running time.
6/10

"The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer's nightmare is that he isn't dreaming."
"The most frightening thing about Jacob Singer's nightmare is that he isn't dreaming."

JACOB'S LADDER (18)

D: Adrian Lyne
Tri-Star/Carolco (Alan Marshall)
US 1990
113 mins
 
Thriller/Horror
 
W: Bruce Joel Rubin
DP: Jeffrey L. Kimball
Ed: Tom Rolf
Mus: Maurice Jarre
PD: Brian Morris
 
Tim Robbins (Jacob Singer), Elizabeth Peña (Jezzie), Danny Aiello (Louis), Matt Craven (Michael), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Paul), Jason Alexander (Geary)
 
Tim Robbins plays postal worker Jacob Singer, a Vietnam veteran mourning his dead son and experiencing nightmarish hallucinations and surreal flashbacks of his time in the war, his previous marriage and other haunting memories. He consequently discovers he was the subject of secret experiments with chemical weapons during his time of duty.
Jacob's Ladder is a complex psychological mystery with an incredibly clever, unpredictable twist. Tim Robbins delivers an excellent performance and the story is very well written. Not a film for all audiences, but fans of 'Altered States' and 'Donnie     Darko' (both of which have variants on a similar plot device) would rate it highly.
7/10

"When a murder case is this shocking, which do you trust, your emotions or your evidence?"
"When a murder case is this shocking, which do you trust, your emotions or your evidence?"

JAGGED EDGE (18)

D: Richard Marquand
Columbia (Martin Ransohoff)
US 1985
108 mins
 
Thriller
 
W: Joe Eszterhas
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Sean Barton & Conrad Buff
Mus: John Barry
 
Jeff Bridges (Jack Forrester), Glenn Close (Teddy Barnes), Peter Coyote (Thomas Krasny), Robert Loggia (Sam Ransom), John Dehner (Judge Carrigan)
 
Jagged Edge is a courtroom thriller which will keep you on tenterhooks throughout the running time.
Glenn Close plays a female defence lawyer hired by Jack Forrester, a newspaper publisher accused of murdering his wife and the two develop a sexual relationship. 
The district attorney pressing charges bears a grudge against Jack, and appears to be bending the law to his own advantage, but the truth becomes blurred throughout the trial until the film's climax.
A well-directed and incredibly well written courtroom mystery with some splendid performances. The plot is a gender switch on the same screenwriter's 'Basic Instinct', but written much earlier and with a less tawdry approach to its subject matter.
7/10
 
"Murder. Corruption. Comedy."
"Murder. Corruption. Comedy."

THE JANUARY MAN (15)

D: Pat O'Connor 
US 1989
UIP/MGM (Norman Jewison & Ezra Swerdlow)
97 mins

Mystery/Thriller/Comedy

W: John Patrick Shanley
DP: Jerzy Zielinski
Ed: Lou Lombardo
Mus: Marvin Hamlisch

Kevin Kline (Lt. Nick Starkey), Susan Sarandon (Christine Starkey), Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Bernadette Flynn), Harvey Keitel (Frank Starkey), Danny Aiello (Capt. Vincent Alcoa), Rod Steiger (Mayor Eamon Flynn), Alan Rickman (Ed), Faye Grant (Alison Hawkins)

A run-of-the-mill serial killer thriller suddenly becomes a slapstick comedy in the final half-hour. It's a blend of filmmaking styles which simply doesn't work and considering the talent involved in the production the end result is quite embarrassing. 
Amongst the worst films of 1989.
3/10

JASON & THE ARGONAUTS (PG)
D: Don Chaffey
Columbia (Charles H. Schneer)
UK 1963
104 mins

Fantasy/Adventure

W: Jan Read & Beverly Cross
DP: Wilkie Cooper
Ed: Maurice Rootes
Mus: Bernard Herrmann
PD: Geoffrey Drake

Todd Armstrong (Jason), Honor Blackman (Hera), Niall MacGinnis (Zeus), Gary Raymond (Acastus), Laurence Naismith (Argus), Nancy Kovack (Medea)

The craft and execution to bring this semi-classic of British film to the screen may feel incredibly dated by modern standards, but Ray Harryheusen's stop-motion special effects must be considered a milestone in visual effects magic.
The story itself, based on Greek mythology, sees Jason, aided by the Gods, on a quest to find the Golden Fleece, fighting an array of beasts and monsters along the way.
Many liberties have been taken with the original fables, such as the addition of the skeleton fight, but the film simply wouldn't have been the same without them.
7/10

"You know his name."
"You know his name."

JASON BOURNE (12)

D: Paul Greengrass

Universal/Captivate/Perfect World/Pearl Street (Paul Greengrass, Gregory Goodman, Frank Marshall, Jeffrey M. Weiner, Ben Smith & Matt Damon)

US 2016

123 mins


Action/Thriller 


W: Paul Greengrass & Christopher Rouse [based on characters created by Robert Ludlum]

DP: Barry Ackroyd

Ed: Christopher Rouse

Mus: John Powell & David Buckley


Matt Damon (Jason Bourne), Tommy Lee Jones (Robert Dewey), Alicia Vikander (Heather Lee), Vincent Cassel (The Asset), Julia Stiles (Nicolette Parsons), Riz Ahmed (Aaron Kalloor)


The studio still has money to make from the franchise, but since The Bourne Legacy wasn't as successful as they hoped, this sequel reverts back to type and follows the same blueprints laid down by the original trilogy (The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy & The Bourne Ultimatum).

Secret agent Jason Bourne is brought out of hiding when CIA secrets are unearthed by his former associate Nicolette Parsons, making them both a target for assassination.

The plot simply goes through the same motions seen before, but only in a really boring way, bringing none of the cunning, intrepid skill or brilliant choreographed action scenes with it.

A cash-grab. Nothing more, nothing less, with an ending open for yet another promise of adventure dangling on the horizon.

4/10


"She was the first."
"She was the first."

JAWS (PG)

D: Steven Spielberg
Universal (Richard Zanuck & David Brown)
US 1975
125 mins
 
Horror/Adventure
 
W: Peter Benchley & Carl Gottlieb [based on the novel by Peter Benchley]
DP: Bill Butler
Ed: Verna Fields
Mus: John Williams
PD: Joe Alves
 
Roy Scheider (Police Chief Martin Brody), Robert Shaw (Quint), Richard Dreyfuss (Matt Hooper), Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Murray Hamilton (Mayor Vaughn)
 
The original, and by far the best, of the Jaws movies, launched the career of its director Steven Spielberg, spawned three sequels (perhaps more if the 4th film wasn't so terrible) and at the time of its release became the most successful box office hit of all time (two years later Star Wars knocked it off its perch).
Based on the best-selling novel by Peter Benchley, a rogue great white shark terrorises a Long Island beach community on Independence Day weekend. The rookie police chief is aware of the dangers, taking steps to ensure the safety of the people, but the mayor is desperate for tourists to stay on the beaches, since the finances of the seasonal town depend on them.
The real thrills happen when the chief, an oceanographer and a salty sea captain venture out to kill the predator, and discover the threat is bigger than they initially realised.
The finished product of this film is rather serendipitous. The (rather unconvincing) rubber shark was meant to feature more, but mechanical problems kept it's appearance to a bare minimum, ensuring that the tension was built by a sense of dread, as well as John Williams menacing music.
In the spirit of "The Golden Rules of Horror", the scariest moment in the film comes via way of a speech from grizzly shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw), explaining his obsession to his two sea mates by recounting the real-life horror of the USS Indianapolis.
Though the success of the film generated a host of copycats and a run of sequels, nothing can compare to the original film, and while the shark (when you do see it) may look a little fake, the terror is very real.
10/10
 
"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."
"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water..."
JAWS 2 (15)
D: Jeannot Szwarc
Universal (Richard Zanuck & David Brown)
US 1978
117 mins

Horror/Adventure

W: Carl Gottlieb, Howard Sackler & Dorothy Tristan [based on the characters created by Peter Benchley]
DP: Michael Butler, David Butler & Michael McGowan
Ed: Neil Travis, Steve Potter & Arthur Schmidt
Mus: John Williams

Roy Scheider (Chief Martin Brody), Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Murray Hamilton (Mayor Larry Vaughn), Joseph Mascolo (Len Peterson), Collin Wilcox (Dr. Elkins)

Cash-grab sequel which is pretty much a retread of the first film, but without the characters of Quint and Hooper, whose chemistry with Chief Brody made the original the classic it rightfully is.
Another man-eating shark is terrorising the holiday-goers of Amity Island, mostly the teenagers, and the police chief has to tackle it on his own despite the mayor's resitance, who clearly hadn't learned lessons from the first film.
It has a few effective moments, but is clearly aimed at a popcorn market.
6/10

"The third dimension is terror."
"The third dimension is terror."

JAWS 3-D (15)

D: Joe Alves
Universal (Rupert Hitzig)
US 1983
99 mins
 
Horror
 
W: Carl Gottlieb & Richard Matheson [based on the characters created by Peter Benchley]
DP: James A. Contner
Ed: Randy Roberts & Corky Ehlers
Mus: Alan Parker
 
Dennis Quaid (Mike Brody), Bess Armstrong (Kay Morgan), Simon MacCorkindale (Philip Fitzroyce), Louis Gossett, Jr. (Calvin Bouchard), John Putch (Sean Brody), Lea Thompson (Kelly Ann Bukowski)
 
A 3-D addition to the Jaws films. This time a man-eating Great White Shark terrorises tourists at a Florida theme park where Chief Brody's son happens to be a member of staff.
The shark looks so fake, it's more likely to evoke laughter than screams of terror, and the acting performances are well below standard, especially from theme park owner Louis Gossett, Jr., fresh off the back of his Oscar win for 'An Officer & A Gentleman'.
The whole exercise sums itself up as a 99 minute advert for SeaWorld... and really not a good one.
3/10
 
"This time. It's personal."
"This time. It's personal."

JAWS: THE REVENGE (15)

D: Joseph Sargent
Universal (Joseph Sargent)
US 1987
100 mins
 
Horror
 
W: Michael de Guzman [based on the characters created by Peter Benchley]
DP: John McPherson
Ed: Michael Brown
Mus: Michael Small
 
Lorraine Gary (Ellen Brody), Lance Guest (Michael Brody), Mario Van Peebles (Jake), Karen Young (Carla Brody), Michael Caine (Hoagie Newcombe)
 
Pathetic and superfluous fourth chapter to the Jaws movies, in which the sharks are seeking revenge on Chief Brody's widow.
The cast just look like they're in it for the pay day, backed up by Michael Caine's claim that he "hadn't seen the movie, but the house it built was rather fantastic".
The proof is in the proverbial pudding, as it was bad enough to ensure that no further sequels were made.
1/10
 
"Hollywood had it coming."
"Hollywood had it coming."

JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK (18)

D: Kevin Smith
Dimension/View Askew (Scott Mosier)
US 2001
104 mins
 
Comedy
 
W: Kevin Smith
DP: Jamie Anderson
Ed: Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier
Mus: James L. Venable
 
Jason Mewes (Jay), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob), Ben Affleck (Holden McNeil / himself), Jeff Anderson (Randal), Eliza Dushku (Sissy), Shannon Elizabeth (Justice), Will Ferrell (Willenholly), Ali Larter (Chrissy), Jason Lee (Brodie / Banky Edwards), Jennifer Schwalbach (Missy)
 
Jay & Silent Bob, two stoner characters who make cameo appearances in Kevin Smith's previous films (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma), get their own big screen outing in this knockabout comedy, reminiscent of Cheech & Chong's pot-smoking adventures.
Much of the humour is self-referential, so it's recommended to have seen the previous Kevin Smith films (especially Chasing Amy). 
The duo discover that a film is being made, based on comic book characters (Bluntman & Chromic) inspired by the their likeness and, angered by internet criticism, embark on a road trip to Hollywood to sabotage the production.
The road trip itself doesn't require any great knowledge into Kevin Smith's universe, packed with cameo appearances and puerile jokes which see the brainless pair break into an animal laboratory to create a decoy for a diamond heist and the pair become guardians for a stolen orang-utan.
Fans of Kevin Smith films or "dick & fart jokes" will enjoy this much more than other audiences, who'll know whether they'll enjoy it or not from the opening five minutes alone.
6/10
 
JAY & SILENT BOB'S SUPER GROOVY CARTOON MOVIE (18)
D: Steve Stark
Phase 4/Smodcast (Jason Mewes & Jordan Monsanto)
US 2013
63 mins

Animated

W: Kevin Smith [based on his comic book "Bluntman & Chronic"]
Mus: James L. Venable

voices of: Jason Mewes (Jay/Chronic), Kevin Smith (Silent Bob/Bluntman), Eliza Dushku (Lipstick Lesbian), Tara Strong (Cocknocker/Small Fry The Science Guy), Ralph Garman (Dick Head/Doc Brown), Neil Garman (Albert the Manservant)

Jay & Silent Bob are back, in cartoon form, in this adaptation of Kevin Smith's Bluntman & Chronic comic book adventures.
This is quite possibly the film within a film which the duo were trying to stop being made in their 2001 film, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back (qv), which makes sense, because the animation is very rudimentary and the sound recording is very amateur.
Like all Kevin Smith's films, the self-referential humour makes it important to have seen his previous films, but this doesn't appeal directly to his fans. It's a little too puerile for that. The fact that the villains are called Lipstick Lesbian, Cocknocker & Dick Head will suggest to you whether this will be your type of film or not.
4/10

"Sometimes you have to risk it all..."
"Sometimes you have to risk it all..."

THE JAZZ SINGER (PG)

D: Richard Fleischer
EMI (Jerry Leider)
US 1980
115 mins

Musical/Drama

W: Herbert Baker & Stephen H. Foreman [based on the play by Samuel Raphaelson]
DP: Isidore Mankofsky
Ed: Maury Winetrobe
Mus: Leonard Rosenman; Neil Diamond 
 
Neil Diamond (Yussel Rabinovitch / Jess Robin), Laurence Olivier (Cantor Rabinovitch), Lucie Arnaz (Molly Bell), Catlin Adams (Rivka Rabinovitch), Sully Boyar (Eddie Gibbs)

The original 1927 film of The Jazz Singer left audience members gasping when star Al Jolson uttered the words "You ain't heard nothing yet." The film became credited as the first Hollywood "talkie" and is still held in wide regard.
This schmaltzy remake of sorts sees Neil Diamond in the Jolson role, a singer involved in a feud with his dad and doting girlfriend. The songs (including "Love On The Rocks") make a basis for a good album, but have very little to do with the jazz genre. 
There are two types of people in the world, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't, and if you should fall into the latter category, this film should be avoided completely.
4/10

J. EDGAR (15)
D: Clint Eastwood
Warner Bros./Imagine/Malpaso (Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer & Robert Lorenz)
US 2011
137 mins

Biopic

W: Dustin Lance Black
DP: Tom Stern
Ed: Joel Cox & Gary Roach
Mus: Clint Eastwood

Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar Hoover), Armie Hammer (Clyde Tolson), Naomi Watts (Helen Gandy), Josh Lucas (Charles Lindbergh), Judi Dench (Anna Marie Hoover)

A rather pedestrian biopic of John Edgar Hoover from the birth of the FBI to his death. The story is a bit of a hodgepodge, dipping in and out of historical chronology and skirting around Hoover's personal life, his homosexual tendencies and his stash of personal files on senior political figures, unfortunately because the story stays on the periphery of such matters and never tackles the real bones of the subject, the narrative becomes incredibly monotonous.
Considering the talents involved and the fact that it's directed by Clint Eastwood and written by the Oscar-winning writer of Milk, I expected a bit more from this.
The worst thing about the film by far is the "old age makeup". Better techniques were used in Citizen Kane and that movie is well over 70 years old!
6/10

"She's evil... And not just high school evil."
"She's evil... And not just high school evil."
JENNIFER'S BODY (18)
D: Karyn Kasuma
20th Century Fox/Fox Atomic (Jason Reitman, Daniel Dubiecki & Mason Novick)
US 2009
102 mins
 
Horror/Comedy
 
W: Diablo Cody
DP: M. David Mullen
Ed: Plummy Tucker
Mus: Stephen Barton & Theodore Shapiro 
 
Megan Fox (Jennifer Check), Amanda Seyfried (Anita 'Needy' Lesnicki), J.K. Simmons (Mr. Wroblewski), Amy Sedaris (Toni Lesnicki), Adam Brody (Nikolai)
 
Talentless whore Megan Fox plays talentless whore Jennifer, a supposedly average high school chick who becomes possessed by rock music and goes on a killing spree.
Written by Diablo Cody, a former-stripper who won an Oscar for Juno because she writes dialogue for teens so they all talk like former strippers trying to make it in Hollywood.
As for the movie itself, there's more than enough pictures of Megan Fox being a slut on the internet.  I practically spent the entire movie wondering who's sucked the most Hollywood Executive cock out of Diablo Cody & Megan Fox, because they clearly didn't get to where they did on 'talent'.
Also, can Amanda Seyfried fuck off for a couple of years??? I'm getting sick of seeing her in nearly everything.
2/10

"A rags to riches to rags story."
"A rags to riches to rags story."

THE JERK (15)

D: Rob Reiner
Universal/Aspen (David V. Picker & William E. McEuen)
US 1979
90 mins
 
Comedy
 
W: Steve Martin, Carl Gottlieb & Michael Elias
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Ed: Bud Molin
Mus: Jack Elliott
 
Steve Martin (Navin R. Johnson), Bernadette Peters (Marie Kimble Johnson), M. Emmet Walsh (Madman), Bill Macy (Stan Fox), Maurice Evans (Hobart)
 
The Jerk provided Steve Martin with his first leading role in film and is still amongst his funniest works. He plays a simple man, raised by a poor black family, who ventures into the world to make his millions. He becomes a millionaire through the aid of one of his inventions, but loses it all and returns to his roots.
The jokes are quite hit-and-miss, but the funniest gags and lines of dialogue are quite hilarious. Martin also develops a sweet relationship with Bernadette Peters which would continue in real-life.
7/10
 
"Everybody loved him... Everybody disappeared."
"Everybody loved him... Everybody disappeared."
JERRY MAGUIRE (15)
D: Cameron Crowe
Columbia Tristar/Gracie Films (James L. Brooks, Laurence Mark, Richard Sakai & Cameron Crowe)
US 1996
139 mins

Comedy/Sports/Romance

W: Cameron Crowe
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Joe Hutshing
Mus: Nancy Wilson
PD: Stephen J. Lineweaver

Tom Cruise (Jerry Maguire), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Rod Tidwell), Renee Zellweger (Dorothy Boyd), Kelly Preston (Avery Bishop), Bonnie Hunt (Laurel Boyd), Jerry O'Connell (Frank Cushman), Jay Mohr (Bob Sugar), Jonathan Lipnicki (Ray Boyd), Regina King (Marcee Tidwell), Todd Louiso (Chad)

Tom Cruise had been a top box office draw for over a decade without really testing the water in romantic comedies, sticking to blockbuster material like Top Gun, Mission: Impossible & The Firm and Oscar-nominated dramas like Rain Man & Born On The Fourth Of July. 
Jerry Maguire, however, was a character which fit like a glove for the film star, and he delivers one of his best ever performances as the yuppie-like sports agent who, suffering from a bout of good conscience, writes a soul-searching mission statement for his company to take heed, pleading that the onus should be on personal relationships with their clients, rather than the vast wealth that rolls in through commercial endorsement.
He is subsequently sacked from his firm, breaking up with his socialite fiancé in the process, and with the aid of his one remaining client (an American football player with a bad attitude) and a loyal secretary (Zellweger), Maguire attempts to rebuild his reputation.
What makes this film work so well is the relationship between the three principal characters and a juvenile performance from Jonanthan Lipnicki which will melt even the most cynical of hearts. The film is stolen, however, by the exuberant Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the football player, Rod Tidwell, who lights up the screen in every scene in which he appears.
8/10

"He wanted it all... But he got more than he bargained for."
"He wanted it all... But he got more than he bargained for."

JERSEY GIRL (15)

D: Kevin Smith
Miramax/View Askew (Scott Mosier)
US 2004
102 mins
 
Comedy
 
W: Kevin Smith
DP: Vilmos Zsigmond 
Ed: Kevin Smith & Scott Mosier
Mus: James Venable
 
Ben Affleck (Ollie Trinke), Liv Tyler (Maya Harding), Raquel Castro (Gertie Trinke) George Carlin (Bart Trinke), Stephen Root (Greenie), Mike Starr (Block), Jennifer Lopez (Gertie Steiney)
 
Kevin Smith's first film not to feature cameos from the characters Jay & Silent Bob seems to prove how much the writer-director relies on "stoner humour".
Starring Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez when they were in a relationship together and fresh off the set of the terrible Gigli (qv) wasn't the smartest casting decision either. 
Affleck plays a PR man who struggles to raise his daughter alone following the death of her mother, and, after having a breakdown where he criticises one of his clients, is fired from his firm. 
Several years pass and he develops a relationship with the sexually liberal Liv Tyler, who inspires him to return to a career he once loved.
This film is by far one of the weakest films from Kevin Smith, lacking memorable characters or dialogue which made his previous films so fun to watch. Ben Affleck doesn't help either, with a half-arsed performance and very little chemistry with either of his romantic interests. Still, at least it's better than Gigli.
4/10
 
"The first movie from the family that's truly ahead of it's time."
"The first movie from the family that's truly ahead of it's time."

JETSONS: THE MOVIE (U)

D: William Hanna & Joseph Barbera
UIP/Universal/Hanna-Barbera (Bruce David Johnson)
US 1990
83 mins
 
Animated
 
W: Dennis Marks & Carl Sautter [based on the animated TV series]
Mus: John Debney
 
voices of: George O'Hanlon (George Jetson), Mel Blanc (Cosmo Spacely), Penny Singleton (Jane Jetson), Tiffany (Judy Jetson), Patric Zimmerman (Elroy Jetson)
 
The Jetsons was The Flintstones space-age cousin, running on TV in the early 1960's for a single season before being cancelled. A re-run during the tail-end of the 1980's saw it amass a new legion of fans, but this feature length episode still comes a couple of decades too late.
The animation is no better than television standard, as is the story, pitting the Jetson family against a horde of alien saboteurs who object to their asteroid being used for a mining colony.
Under 8's might get a degree of entertainment from this, as would massive fans of the original cartoon series, but for everyone else it's average at best.
4/10
 
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

THE JEWEL OF THE NILE (PG)

D: Lewis Teague
20th Century Fox (Michael Douglas)
US 1985
104 mins
 
Adventure/Comedy
 
W: Mark Rosenthal & Lawrence Konner [based on characters created by Diane Thomas]
DP: Jan de Bont
Ed: Michael Ellis & Peter Boita
Mus: Jack Nitzsche
 
Michael Douglas (Jack Colton), Kathleen Turner (Joan Wilder), Danny DeVito (Ralph), Spiros Focas (Omar)
 
Dull, needless sequel to Romancing The Stone (qv) which casts aside the romance subplot from the first film in favour of an Indiana Jones-style adventure.
Kathleen Turner returns as romance novelist, Joan Wilder, sunning it up on Michael Douglas' yacht off the coast of Monaco, but the trouble begins when she accepts an invitation from a corrupt Middle Eastern monarch to stay at his mansion and write a book about him.
Of course, Michael Douglas swoops in to save the day, but with a change of both director and writer, this is as far from the original film as it could dare to be. It's far from being a gem.
5/10
 
"He will risk his life, the lives of his family, everything he holds dear for the one thing he holds sacred... The truth."
"He will risk his life, the lives of his family, everything he holds dear for the one thing he holds sacred... The truth."
JFK (15)
D: Oliver Stone
Warner Bros./Camelot/New Regency/Canal+/Ixtlan (Oliver Stone & A. Kitman Ho)
US 1991
189 mins

Drama/Historical

W: Oliver Stone & Zachary Sklar [based on the books "On The Trail Of Assassins" by Jim Garrison & "Crossfire: The Plot That Killed Kennedy" by Jim Marrs]
DP: Robert Richardson
Ed: Joe Hutshing & Pietro Scalia
Mus: John Williams
PD: Victor Kempster
Cos: Marlene Stewart

Kevin Costner (Jim Garrison), Sissy Spacek (Liz Garrison), Joe Pesci (David Ferrie), Tommy Lee Jones (Clay Shaw), Gary Oldman (Lee Harvey Oswald), Michael Rooker (Bill Broussard), John Candy (Dean Andrews), Laurie Metcalf (Susie Cox), Kevin Bacon, Jay O. Sanders, Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Donald Sutherland, Gary Grubbs

Everybody loves a little conspiracy when it comes to historical events, and Oliver Stone isn't one to shy away from controversial and contentious issues.
Though his theories into the assassination of John F. Kennedy may be complete fiction and refraction of the truth, he raises some solid arguments in a very engrossing courtroom drama.
Costner stars as real-life DA Jim Garrison, who dedicated years of his life to investigating the shooting of the former US President, uncovering a coup d'état by the CIA to assassinate him because he planned to withdraw American involvement in the Vietnam war, as well as his stance on civil rights.
A very impressive ensemble of actors make this a definitive film from the early 1990's, and though it's length may lean towards bum-numbing, it's well worth watching for Costner's loquacious courtroom monologue, including the "magic bullet theory" and excerpts from the famous Zapruder film.
Let the conspiracies begin here.
9/10

"One thing stands between Jimmy and stardom. Reality."
"One thing stands between Jimmy and stardom. Reality."

JIMMY HOLLYWOOD (15)

D: Barry Levinson 
Paramount/Baltimore (Mark Johnson & Barry Levinson)
US 1994
113 mins

Comedy/Crime

W: Barry Levinson
DP: Peter Soca
Ed: Jay Rabinowitz
Mus: Robbie Robertson

Joe Pesci (Jimmy Alto / Jericho), Christian Slater (William), Victoria Abril (Lorraine de la Pena), Jason Beghe (Detective), Harrison Ford (himself)

It makes little sense that this film was released straight to video in Britain, considering writer/director Barry Levinson's pedigree (Rain Man, Bugsy), especially considering the same filmmaker had one of the biggest hits of the same year with Disclosure (qv), arguably much less entertaining than this.
In this satirical look at showbiz, Joe Pesci plays a struggling actor who spends most of his time mooching with his slacker friend, played by Christian Slater. He gains fame and notoriety, however, when he becomes a vigilante in his Hollywood neighbourhood.
The film isn't particularly memorable and the casting may not have been right for the characters, but it wasn't as big a mess as the same director's box office success released the same year, and certainly didn't deserve to go completely unnoticed.
5/10
 
JINGLE ALL THE WAY (PG)
D: Brian Levant
20th Century Fox (Chris Columbus, Mark Radcliffe & Michael Barnathan)
US 1996
88 mins

Comedy

W: Randy Kornfield
DP: Victor J. Kemper
Ed: Kent Beyda, Wilton Henderson & Adam Weiss
Mus: David Newman

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Howard Langston), Sinbad (Myron Larabee), Phil Hartman (Ted Maltin), Rita Wilson (Liz Langston), Robert Conrad (Officer Alexander Hummell), Jake Lloyd (Jamie Langston)

The mid-90's saw action guy Arnie take a step away from the genres which saw him become so successful, in favour of more family-audience aimed projects.
Jingle All The Way was as low brow as they come, inspired by real-life events from the previous Christmas where stores failed to anticipate the popularity of Toy Story's Buzz Lightyear action figures and ran out of stock, leaving many children left wanting when opening their gifts on Christmas morning.
That's pretty much the whole story of this film, Arnie not wanting to disappoint his kid and searching in vain for a superhero action figure on Christmas Eve. A mission which takes him to fleapit markets and counterfeit warehouses. Also in on the chase is "comedian" Sinbad.
Perhaps it's cynical to call this a bad film because it's clearly aimed at children, but is this really the message that we should be giving them? That Christmas is only about material things and receiving toys are what gives the festive period it's meaning? Stick to action movies Arnie. This is just terrible.
3/10

JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO (PG)
D: John Patrick Shanley
Warner Bros./Amblin (Teri Schwartz)
US 1990
102 mins

Comedy

W: John Patrick Shanley
DP: Stephen Goldblatt
Ed: Richard Halsey
Mus: Georges Delerue

Tom Hanks (Joe Banks), Meg Ryan (DeDe / Angelica / Patricia), Lloyd Bridges (Samuel Graynamore), Robert Stack (Dr. Ellison), Abe Vigoda (Chief Tobi), Dan Hedaya (Frank Waturi)

Along with Bonfire Of The Vanities, this film made 1990 a rather miserable year for Tom Hanks, well below the standard of film or performance you'd expect from such a good actor. This maudlin and depressing so-called "comedy" really is rather awful.
Hanks plays Joe, constantly depressed by his job, he is convinced by a doctor into thinking he has a terminal illness and later conned by a tycoon that if he sacrifices himself on a volcanic island, he will be rewarded by living like a king in the month leading up to his date with the volcano. All so the tycoon can continue making orange soda with the island's indigenous fruit.
It's so very silly, especially with Meg Ryan turning up in three different wigs, trying (unconvincingly) to be three different people.
Watching this may make you wish to sacrifice yourself. Bring on the volcano already!
3/10

"Sex, Bugs, Rock & Roll."
"Sex, Bugs, Rock & Roll."
JOE'S APARTMENT (12)
D: John Payson
Warner Bros./Geffen/MTV (Diana Phillips & Bonni Lee)
US 1996
80 mins

Comedy

W: John Payson [based on his short film screenplay]
DP: Peter Deming
Ed: Peter Frank
Mus: Carter Burwell

Jerry O'Connell (Joe), Megan Ward (Lily), Jim Turner (Walter Shit), Jim Sterling (Jesus Bianco), Robert Vaughn (Senator Dougherty)

One-joke comedy which may have worked better as an MTV short, but as a feature it's stretched well beyond breaking point.
Jerry O'Connell moves into a new apartment which he must share with hundreds of singing & dancing cockroaches. He also has problems with his evil landlord and his prissy girlfriend, but who cares?
At 80 minutes it's pretty short for a feature film, but considering its story (or lack of) it's still 60 minutes too long.
3/10

"Lost in our world, found in another."
"Lost in our world, found in another."

JOHN CARTER (12)

D: Andrew Stanton
Disney (Jim Morris, Colin Wilson & Lindsey Collins)
US 2012
132 mins
 
Science Fiction/Adventure
 
W: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews & Michael Chabon [based on the novel "A Princess Of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs]
DP: Dan Mindel
Ed: Eric Zumbrunnen
Mus: Michael Giacchino
 
Taylor Kitsch (John Carter), Lynn Collins (Dejah Thoris), Samantha Morton (Sola), Mark Strong (Matai Shang), Ciaran Hinds (Thardos Mors), Dominic West (Sab Than), Willem Dafoe (Tars Tarkas)
 
This movie may have proved an embarrassing flop at the box office for its Disney studio, but for entertainment value, it really wasn't too bad.
Comparisons will possibly be made to Flash Gordon, albeit not quite as camp or cheesy, but it's a huge surprise that this is based on a novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan.
Civil war vet John Carter finds himself on an alien planet, where six-foot tall barbarians hold him prisoner. He escapes, but unites with the alien species to rescue a princess held captive by their enemies.
The trailers for this film didn't do it any justice, nor did the scathing reviews, but it really wasn't as awful as it was made out to be.
The ending seems to set it up for a sequel, whether or not that happens is a different matter (Disney certainly won't produce it).
5/10
 
JOHN WICK (18)
D: Chad Stahelski (& David Leitch)
Summit/Thunder Road (Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Michael Witherill, James McTeigue & Eva Longoria)
US 2014
101 mins

Action/Thriller

W: Derek Halstead
DP: Jonathan Sela
Ed: Elisabeth Ronalds
Mus: Tyler Bates

Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Michael Nyqvist (Viggo Tarasov), Alfie Allen (Iosef Tarasov), Adrianne Palicki (Ms. Perkins), Bridget Moynahan (Helen Wick)

Taken-lite action thriller staring Keanu Reeves as the title character, a former mob hitman who wants revenge on the gangsters who kill his dog.
It's actually better than it sounds, with plenty of action and a cold, emotionless performance that suits the lead actor's skillset.
For action fans, this is a refreshing change from the frenetically edited fight scenes which were brought about by the Bourne movies, as this adopts a more balletic, expertly choreographed style where you can actually make out what the hell is going on.
A sequel followed in 2017 (see below).
6/10

JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (18)

D: Chad Stahelski

Lionsgate/Summit/Thunder Road/87 Eleven (Basil Iwanyk & Erica Lee)

US 2017

122 mins


Action/Thriller


W: Derek Kolstad

DP: Dan Laustsen

Ed: Evan Schiff

Mus: Tyler Bates & Joel J. Richard


Keanu Reeves (John Wick), Riccardo Scamarcio (Santino D'Antonio), Ian McShane (Winston), Ruby Rose (Ares), Common (Cassian), Claudia Gerini (Gianna D'Antonio), Laurence Fishburne (The Bowery King), Peter Stormare (Abram Tarasov)


John Wick: Chapter 2 starts where the first movie left off and wastes no time as the former hitman goes about beating up the bad guys to get his stolen car back. If you want character development, that's all you're gonna get.

Wick is then visited by Santino D'Antonio, the gangster who allowed Wick to retire on the condition that he is granted one last favour... and now is the time for that favour to be extended.

The hitman reluctantly travels to Rome to carry out his mission only to become double-crossed and find himself on a hit list when he returns back to New York soil.

Storywise, the plot of this sequel has many of the tropes you'd come to expect from this kind of genre (unlike a man exacting revenge for the murder of his dog) although it does become increasingly silly as the film goes on.

As with the first film, the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed and directed, assisted by some rather amazing cinematography for an action movie, as well as exhilarating music and good editing.

The film leaves it open for chapter 3, expected imminently...

6/10


"Revenge gets ugly."
"Revenge gets ugly."
JONAH HEX (12)
D: Jimmy Hayward 
Warner/Legendary/Mad Chance/Weed Road (Akiva Goldsman & Andrew Lazar)
US 2010
81 mins

Action/Fantasy/Western

W: Neveldine & Taylor [based on characters created by John Albano & Tony Dezuniga]
DP: Mitchell Amundsen
Ed: Dan Hanley, Kent Beyda, Fernando Villena & Andrew S. Eisen
Mus: Marco Beltrami

Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex), Megan Fox (Tallulah Black), John Malkovich (Quentin Turnbull), Michael Fassbender (Burke), Will Arnett (Lt. Cross), Michael Shannon (Dr. Cross Williams)

One of the worst comic book adaptations of all time, starring Josh Brolin as the title character- a bounty hunter with a burned face who can communicate with the dead.
It quite simply doesn't work, the story is riddled with terrible cliches, boring characters, lame action scenes and poor visual effects.
I also couldn't decide what was uglier, Josh Brolin's appearance or Megan Fox's pathetic attempt at acting.
The only positives are that it was mercifully short at a mere 81 minutes and that Fox's awful performance ensured that she stayed off cinema screens for a number of years.
3/10

THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN (PG)
D: Jeremy Kagan
Disney (Mike Lobell)
US 1985
105 mins

Adventure

W: Jeanne Rosenberg
DP: Richard Bush
Ed: David Holden & Steven Rosenblum
Mus: James Horner
PD: Paul Sylbert
Cos: Albert Wolsky

Meredith Salenger (Natty Gann), John Cusack (Harry), Ray Wise (Sol Gann), Scatman Crothers (Sherman), Lainie Kazan (Connie)

Typically Disney children's adventure set during the Great Depression. A young girl travels across the country from Chicago to the west coast to be reunited with her father.
The story is a twee, human-interest version of Lassie. Well made, photographed and designed, but not particularly memorable.
5/10

"A fabulous world below the world."
"A fabulous world below the world."
JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (PG)
D: Henry Levin
20th Century Fox (Charles Brackett)
US 1959
132 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Walter Reisch & Charles Brackett [based on the novel by Jules Verne]
DP: Leo Tover
Mus: Bernard Herrmann
PD: Lyle Wheeler, Franz Bachelin & Herman A. Blumenthal

James Mason (Prof. Oliver Lindenbrook), Arlene Dahl (Carla), Pat Boone (Alec McEwen), Peter Ronson (Hans), Diane Baker (Jenny), Thayer David (Count Saknussemm)

Enjoyable hokum based on Jules Verne's classic tale. A group of scientists led by James Mason burrow into the centre of the planet via an Icelandic volcano and discover a land inhabited by prehistoric monsters and dinosaurs.
The visual effects and production design were groundbreaking for its time, but naturally look incredibly dated now.
Pat Boone's incessant singing may grate on the ears too. 
6/10

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (PG)
D: Eric Brevig
New Line/Walden Media (Beau Flynn & Charlotte Huggins)
US 2008
93 mins

Science Fiction/Adventure

W: Michael D. Weiss, Mark Levin & Jennifer Flackett [based on the novel by Jules Verne]
DP: Chuck Shuman
Ed: Paul Martin Smith, Dick Westervelt & Steven Rosenblum
Mus: Andrew Lockington

Brendan Fraser (Prof. Trevor Anderson), Josh Hutcherson (Sean Anderson), Anita Briem (Hannah Asgeirson), Seth Meyers (Prof. Alan Kitzens)

Remake of the 1959 film with updated visual effects, production design and without the novelty of Pat Boone's folk singing.
50 minutes shorter than the original film, much has been snipped from Jules Verne's original prose for the sake of intense adventure, and young audience will most certainly prefer this version to the one made five decades earlier.
A sequel, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" was released a couple of years later, replacing Brendan Fraser's character with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson
6/10

JOY (12)

D: David O. Russell

20th Century Fox/Fox 2000/Annapurna/TSG (John Davis, Megan Ellison, Jonathan Gordon, Ken Mok & David O. Russell)

US 2015

124 mins


Biopic/Drama/Comedy


W: David O. Russell & Annie Mumulo

DP: Linus Sandgren

Ed: Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, Tom Cross & Christopher Tellefsen

Mus: West Dylan Thordson & David Campbell


Jennifer Lawrence (Joy Mangano), Robert DeNiro (Rudy Mangano), Edgar Ramirez (Tony Miranne), Bradley Cooper (Neil Walker), Diane Ladd (Mimi)


Jennifer Lawrence received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Joy Mangano in this biographical comedy-drama about a working class mother with a humble upbringing who went on to become a self-made multi-millionaire due to her invention of a mop which sold in its thousands after featuring on the home shopping network QVC.

Considering most the movie is about a mop, it does manage to stay engaging, despite some issues with the narrative meandering from time to time. 

It's obvious that some of the story has been fancied up and dramatised for cinematic effect, landing somewhere between Erin Brockovich and a rags-to-riches fairytale, but it also crams in some message about feminism and female empowerment, which is immediately dropped when Bradley Cooper's dashing TV executive gives Joy a little push up the stepladder. Thank God for Prince Charming.

Besides some finicky little details, it does end up being a joy to watch.

6/10


"Defend your honor."
"Defend your honor."
THE JUDGE (15)
D: David Dobkin
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow (Susan Downey, David Gambino & David Dobkin)
US 2014
142 mins

Drama

W: Nick Schenk & Bill Dubuque
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Mark Livolsi
Mus: Thomas Newman

Robert Downey, Jr. (Hank Palmer), Robert Duvall (Joseph Palmer), Vera Farmiga (Sam Powell), Vincent D'Onofrio (Glen Palmer), Jeremy Strong (Dale Palmer), Billy Bob Thornton (Dwight Dickham)

Judge Joseph Palmer (Robert Duvall) and his lawyer son Hank (Robert Downey, Jr.) have always endured a fractious relationship, made even more tetchy when Hank returns home for his mother's funeral.  
While back in his hometown, the belligerent judge finds himself arrested for a hit-and-run murder and his best chance to escape a prison term is to allow his son to represent him and to possibly admit to health problems which could potentially bring his recent judicial decisions into question.
While Robert Duvall's performance is excellent, the rest of the talented cast don't really stand out, and the plot feels mawkish, sentimental and formulaic. Manipulative Oscar-bait, which would have completely disappeared beneath the radar had it not been for Robert Duvall's scene-stealing turn.
6/10

"In the future. One man is the law."
"In the future. One man is the law."
JUDGE DREDD (15)
D: Danny Cannon
Guild/Cinergi (Charles M. Lippincott & Beau E. L. Marks)
US 1995
96 mins

Science Fiction/Action/Crime

W: William Wisher & Steven E. de Souza [based on characters created by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra]
DP: Adrian Biddle
Ed: Alex Mackie & Harry Keramidas
Mus: Alan Silvestri
PD: Nigel Phelps

Sylvester Stallone (Judge Joseph Dredd), Armand Assante (Rico Dredd), Diane Lane (Judge Hershey), Rob Schneider (Fergee), Joan Chen (Dr. Ilsa Hayden), Jürgen Prochnow (Judge Griffin), Max Von Sydow (Chief Justice Fargo)

Comic book blasphemy is committed here. Around the globe audible groans were heard in cinema auditoriums the very moment that the Judge (who remains anonymous in the original comic strip) lifts his helmet to reveal the gormless Sylvester Stallone, yelling "I didn't break duh law. I am duh law." as his sole defence when he is accused of murder.
Sentenced to prison, the vessel transporting him crashes in the desert and Dredd makes his way back to Mega City One to clear his name and get his revenge on those who framed him. Of course, this is too big a task for one man alone, even if he is a futuristic law enforcement official, so he's blessed with the companionship of Rod Schneider's "comic" relief.
Perhaps it can be argued that such scandalous liberties were taken with the comic book character to appeal to a more mainstream audience, but it doesn't make it right. Even Batman & Robin (qv) was more faithful to its source.
A remake emerged in 2012, simply titled "Dredd". Watch that version and avoid this tripe.
2/10

JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG (PG)

D: Stanley Kramer

United Artists/Roxlom (Stanley Kramer)

US 1961

179 mins


Drama/War


W: Abby Mann [based on his 1959 teleplay]

DP: Ernest Laszlo

Ed: Frederic Knudtson

Mus: Ernest Gold

PD: Rudolph Sternad


Spencer Tracy (Judge Dan Haywood), Burt Lancaster (Dr. Ernest Janning), Richard Widmark (Col. Tad Lawson), Maximilian Schell (Hans Rolfe), Werner Klemperer (Emil Hahn), Marlene Dietrich (Frau Bertholt), Montgomery Clift (Rudolph Peterson), Judy Garland (Irene Hoffman-Wallner), William Shatner (Capt. Harrison Byers)


Spencer Tracy may have received top billing, but this is an ensemble piece where nearly every actor involved puts in a tour de force performance, with Maximilian Schell winning the Best Actor Oscar for his work.

This fictionalised recreation of the Nuremberg trials has Tracy's judge presiding over the tribunal, where four German judges sitting in the dock for the alleged crime of sending people they knew to be innocent to prison and POW camps, where many met their deaths due to the Nazi regime of WWII.

The courtroom element of the movie engages the plot for most of the running time, and its these scenes which are completely engrossing, dramatically important and incredibly harrowing.

Directed by Stanley Kramer, who has history of being quite heavy-handed with political messages in his movies, is quite reserved and low-key with his execution here, knowing when to take a step back and when to deliver a devastating punch. 

There are a handful of scenes taking place outside the courtroom which the film could have done without. They don't serve the plot and only seem to have made the cut because they give Spencer Tracy a little more screen-time.

It is very much an actor's movie though, Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Montgomery Clift and Judy Garland being the absolute standouts. Abby Mann's screenplay also deserves recognition, particularly for the lengthy speeches in the final act.

Very close to being a masterpiece, if only some nip & tuck was performed on the unnecessary scenes.

9/10


"Don't move. Don't whisper. Don't even breathe."
"Don't move. Don't whisper. Don't even breathe."

JUDGMENT NIGHT (18)

D: Stephen Hopkins
Universal/Largo (Gene Levy)
US 1993
110 mins
 
Thriller
 
W: Lewis Colick
DP: Peter Levy
Ed: Timothy Wellburn
Mus: Alan Silvestri
 
Emilio Estevez (Frank Wyatt), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Mike Peterson), Denis Leary (Fallon), Stephen Dorff (John Wyatt), Jeremy Piven (Ray Cochran)
 
Nerve-shredding thriller about four friends who get lost in the big city and are pursued by a group of criminals after witnessing a gangland murder.
The film uses a low-key approach and resorts to a clichéd final act, but remains an entertaining watch, though it may have worked better as a TV movie or mini-series. 
6/10
 
JULES ET JIM (JULES & JIM) (15)
D: François Truffaut
Carrosse/SEDIF (Marcel Berbert)
France 1962
105 mins

Romance/Drama

W: François Truffaut & Jean Gruault [based on the novel by Henri-Pierre Roche]
DP: Raoul Coutard
Ed: Claudine Bouché
Mus: Georges Delerue

Jeanne Moreau (Catherine), Oskar Werner (Jules), Henri Serre (Jim)

Classic French romance about a love triangle which begins before World War I between a Parisian girl and a French & German, continuing after the war and ultimately ending in tragedy.
One of the most famous of the "New Wave" films which emerged following A Bout De Soufflé (qv). The three main performances are excellent and it's very well directed and written by François Truffaut. A European cinema classic.
8/10

"A story of turmoil, of courage, of love."
"A story of turmoil, of courage, of love."

JULIA (PG)

D: Fred Zinnemann
20th Century Fox (Richard Roth)
US 1977
117 mins
 
Biopic
 
W: Alvin Sargent [based on the book "Pentimento" by Lillian Hellman]
DP: Douglas Slocombe
Ed: Walter Murch
Mus: Georges Delerue
PD: Carmen Dillon, Gene Callahan & Willy Holt
Cos: Anthea Sylbert
 
Jane Fonda (Lillian Hellman), Vanessa Redgrave (Julia), Jason Robards (Dashiell Hammett), Maximilian Schell (Johann), Hal Holbrook (Alan Campbell), Meryl Streep (Anne Marie), Rosemary Murphy (Dorothy Parker)
 
Vanessa Redgrave plays the Julia of the title but is relegated to a supporting character in this biopic based on Lillian Hellman's real-life memoirs, reflecting on her friendship with Julia, who fought for the anti-fascist movement in Europe leading up to the World War II and was eventually killed by Nazis.
This elegant drama of life in the thirties provides its fine cast the opportunity to deliver fantastic performances, but it would have been a much more interesting film if the title character was the primary interest, rather than through reveals told via flashback. 
7/10
 

JULIET, NAKED (15)

D: Jesse Peretz

Universal/Focus Features/Bona Fide/Rocket Science/Los Angeles Media Fund (Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger & Jeffrey Soros)

UK/US 2018

105 mins


Comedy/Romance


W: Evgenia Peretz, Phil Alden Robinson, Jim Taylor & Tamara Jenkins [based on the novel by Nick Hornby]

DP: Remi Adefarasin

Ed: Sabine Hoffman & Robert Nassau

Mus: Nathan Larson


Rose Byrne (Annie Platt), Chris O'Dowd (Duncan Thompson), Ethan Hawke (Tucker Crowe), Megan Dodds (Carrie)


Based on Nick Hornby's novel, Juliet Naked isn't nearly as risqué as it you may assume, for it's a romantic comedy with issues dealing with growing older, regret, passion for music and obsessive fandom.

Rose Byrne plays Annie Platt, the long-suffering girlfriend of Duncan, a teacher who spends his spare time preoccupied with the musical career of Tucker Crowe, an obscure American rockstar who cut his career incredibly short under mysterious circumstances while promoting "Juliet", his only album. Bernard blogs about the singer's work on an online forum, and the film itself opens with some exposition about the Juliet album, explaining that Crowe penned the songs following a relationship breakup. 

One day, Bernard receives a package containing "Juliet - Naked", a demo version of the album containing unreleased tracks. He immediately blogs about it, much to the chagrin of Annie, who gets her revenge by posting her own review of the music, which annoys Bernard but wins over a fan in Tucker Crowe himself. 

The reclusive singer and Annie begin communicating with each other and a transatlantic relationship blossoms between them and the singer's secretive history becomes more and more apparent.

Though the plot is a little contrived, the story is very charming, helped by some witty dialogue and good performances from the three principal leads, especially Ethan Hawke who really captures the energy of a faded, self-loathing rock star living with deep regret.

Author Nick Hornby also wrote another novel based on music obsession which was adapted into a movie (High Fidelity, 2000) and this could be seen as the same story but from the woman's perspective. 

Adapted in a rather televisual style, it might be worth waiting for on the small screen - but Nick Hornby's fans should certainly give it a watch.

6/10


JUMANJI (PG)
D: Joe Johnston
Columbia Tristar/Interscope (Scott Kroopf & William Teitler)
US 1995
104 mins

Adventure/Fantasy

W: Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor & Jim Strain [based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg]
DP: Thomas Ackerman
Ed: Robert Dalva
Mus: James Horner
PD: James Bissell

Robin Williams (Alan Parrish), Bonnie Hunt (Sarah Whittle), Kirsten Dunst (Judy Shepherd), Bradley Pierce (Peter Shepherd), Bebe Neuwirth (Nora Shepherd), Jonathan Hyde (Sam Parrish), David Alan Grier (Carl Bentley)

Two children play a mysterious board game that turns their living room into a jungle and invading animals cause all sorts of chaos around the neighbourhood.
Robin Williams saves the day as an expert on the game, stuck inside its fictional jungle world since his childhood.
For young children, this is perfectly entertaining and though it makes absolutely no sense, has enough about it for adults to also enjoy. The special effects vary from decent to unconvincing, the director choosing to have the beasties represented mostly by tacky CGI rather than animatronics which would have made the film far more immersive.
6/10

JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (12)

D: Jake Kasdan

Sony/Columbia/Radar/Seven Bucks (Matt Tolmach & William Teitler)

US 2017

119 mins


Adventure/Fantasy


W: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinkner [based on the book "Jumanji" by Chris Van Allsburg]

DP: Gyula Pados

Ed: Mark Helfrich & Steve Edwards

Mus: Henry Jackman


Dwayne Johnson (Smolder Bravestone), Jack Black (Shelly Oberon), Kevin Hart (Franklin 'Mouse' Finbar), Karen Gillan (Ruby Roundhouse), Alex Wolff (Spencer Gilpin), Madison Iseman (Bethany Walker), Ser'Darius Blain (Anthony 'Fridge' Johnson), Morgan Turner (Martha Kaply), Nick Jonas (Jefferson 'Seaplane' McDonough)


As someone who wasn't a huge fan of the 1995 film Jumanji, I wasn't as up in arms as some people were when the news leaked that the adventure would get the 21st century treatment.

This is neither a sequel or remake to the original film, but rather a reboot for the Snapchat generation, who wouldn't have been born when the 1995 film was released. It doesn't continue the story and it doesn't really recycle the same plot device. Instead, it places a group of schoolkids within the environment of a computer game, where the take on the appearance and characteristics of their avatars and need to win the game in order to escape.

The transition of the game from board format to game console is written in quite a lazy way, as is the Breakfast Club set-up where the group of mismatched students discover the game whilst undertaking their punishment. It's in the environment of the game where the fun starts, with a geek taking on the appearance of Dwayne Johnson, the jock becoming the wimpy Kevin Hart, the teen princess finding herself in the body of Jack Black and the shy girl stealing the show as the Lara Croft-esque Ruby Roundhouse.

Better writing could have made this a much better film, but it's still perfectly enjoyable, even though it doesn't have any real ties to the original film or Chris Van Allsburg's book. It honestly could have just been called "Welcome To The Jungle", but Hollywood Studios don't like to gamble, and thus had to have some nostalgia tagged to it in order to make it more successful.

6/10


"Anywhere is possible."
"Anywhere is possible."
JUMPER (12)
D: Doug Liman
20th Century Fox (Arnon Milchan, Lucas Foster, Jay Sanders & Simon Kinberg)
US 2008
88 mins

Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls & Simon Kinberg [based on the novel by Steven Gould]
DP: Barry Peterson
Ed: Saar Klein, Don Zimmerman & Dean Zimmerman
Mus: John Powell

Hayden Christensen (David Rice), Jamie Bell (Griffin O'Connor), Samuel L. Jackson (Roland Cox), Rachel Bilson (Millie Harris), Diane Lane (Mary Rice), Michael Rocker (William Rice)

Conceptually, this could have been a novel edition to the superhero genre. Based tellingly on a young adult novel, it concerns a group of "jumpers", who have the ability to teleport anywhere on the globe. Hayden Christensen is one of these, using his power to rob banks and living his life like a douche, but then develops a conscience and tries to find his mother.
It's a shame that a promising concept was wasted with a storyline and script that are complete bollocks. Samuel L. Jackson really has chosen some stinkers during his career, whereas Hayden Christensen stinks up the screen in virtually everything he's ever been in. His lack of talent is truly apparent here and the constant smarmy look on his face may well have you reaching for the off button.
4/10
 
"A man named Jack has got her jumpin' and the world will never be the same."
"A man named Jack has got her jumpin' and the world will never be the same."

JUMPIN' JACK FLASH (15)

D: Penny Marshall
20th Century Fox (Lawrence Gordon & Joel Silver)
US 1988
100 mins
 
Comedy
 
W: David Franzoni, J. W. Melville, Patricia Irving & Christopher Thompson
DP: Matthew F. Leonetti
Ed: Mark Goldblatt
Mus: Thomas Newman
 
Whoopi Goldberg (Terry Doolittle), Jonathan Pryce (Jack), Stephen Collins (Marty Phillips), John Wood (Jeremy Talbot), Carol Kane (Cynthia)
 
Increasing silly and tiresome comedy vehicle starring Whoopi Goldberg as a kooky office worker who gets entangled in espionage.
The comedy swings into a wacky stand up comedy routine for its star on too many occasions and it's not particularly funny.
Average entertainment, carried only by Whoopi Goldberg's enthusiasm.
5/10
 
THE JUNGLE BOOK (U)
D: Wolfgang Reitherman
Disney (Walt Disney)
US 1967
78 mins

Animated

W: Larry Clemmons, Ralph Wright, Ken Anderson & Vance Gerry [based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling]
Mus: George Bruns; Terry Gilkyson, Richard Sherman & Robert Sherman 

voices of: Phil Harris (Baloo), Sebastian Cabot (Bagheera), Louis Prima (King Louie), George Sanders (Shere Khan), Sterling Holloway (Kaa), J. Pat O'Malley (Colonel Hathi), Bruce Reitherman (Mowgli)

The last animated film to be personally supervised by Walt Disney and easily the best work to emerge from the studio during the later part of the 1960's (although Disney were far more focused on live action projects during this time).
The story here is more liberal with the stories by Rudyard Kipling, keeping the name of the main character, Mowgli, a boy raised in the Indian jungle by a pack of wolves, but almost everything else is adapted to make the tale more family friendly and adventurous, and it is only typical of a Disney production to give the creatures voices and let them sing songs, but the majority of the songs are incredibly memorable ("The Bare Necessities", "I Wanna Be Like You").
It would be over two decades later when Disney studios next produced an animated feature of such high quality.
7/10

THE JUNGLE BOOK (PG)
D: Jon Favreau
Disney/Fairview (Jon Favreau & Brigham Taylor)
US 2016
105 mins

Fantasy/Adventure

W: Justin Marks [based on the books by Rudyard Kipling]
DP: Bill Pope
Ed: Mark Livolsi
Mus: John Debney
PD: Christopher Glass

Neel Sethi (Mowgli)
voices of: Bill Murray (Baloo), Ben Kingsley (Bagheera), Idris Elba (Shere Khan), Christopher Walken (King Louie), Scarlett Johansson (Kaa), Lupita Nyong'o (Raksha), Giancarlo Esposito (Akela)

Disney's live action version of Rudyard Kipling's jungle adventure is more faithful to the 1967 animated film than it is to the original stories, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, in fact, this is one of Disney's best live action movies for quite some time. 
Mowgli, a young boy raised in the jungle by wolves and told to obey the strict rules of the land, is asked to flee to the human village on the outskirts when villainous tiger, Shere Khan has his sights set on the orphan. Led into exile by a friendly panther, Mowgli is separated and meets an array of talking jungle creatures, some friendlier than others.
Those familiar with the 1967 film will know the story well, and though this film only retains two of the songs, it still keeps the magic you'd associate with a Disney production because of the amazing visual effects, which make the talking animals seem incredibly realistic. Brilliant production design also achieves this feat, whilst the vocal performances for the jungle's animals are all marvellously on point.
It's probably a good thing that there's a lack of songs, since the only human actor in the cast, Neel Sethi, has an atrocious singing voice, but aside from that, his performance is decent enough for a juvenile in a family movie.
Only Rudyard Kipling's most devoted fans will find this disappointing.
7/10

JUNGLE FEVER (18)
D: Spike Lee
UIP/Universal/Forty Acres & A Mule (Spike Lee)
US 1991
132mins

Drama

W: Spike Lee
DP: Ernest Dickerson
Ed: Sam Pollard & Brunilda Torres
Mus: Stevie Wonder
PD: Wynn Thomas

Wesley Snipes (Flipper Purify), Annabella Sciorra (Angie Tucci), Samuel L. Jackson (Gator Purify), Lonette McKee (Drew Purify), John Turturro (Paulie Carbone), Frank Vincent (Mike Tucci), Spike Lee (Cyrus)

Wesley Snipes delivers his finest screen performance as a successful architect who leaves his wife and child to embark on an interracial affair with an Italian-American secretary.
Spike Lee's film portrays a seedy side of life in the ghetto, especially in the scenes featuring Samuel L. Jackson as Snipes' drug-addicted brother.
Stevie Wonder penned all the songs on the soundtrack and it's very well written and directed by Lee. It's just a shame that Snipes went purely into action man roles following his fine work in this sharply observed drama.
7/10

"Nothing is inconceivable"
"Nothing is inconceivable"

JUNIOR (12)

D: Ivan Reitman
UIP/Northern Lights (Ivan Reitman)
US 1994
109 mins
 
Comedy
 
W: Kevin Wade & Chris Conrad
DP: Adam Greenberg
Ed: Sheldon Kahn & Wendy Greene Bricmont
Mus: James Newton Howard
 
Arnold Schwarzenegger (Dr. Alex Hesse), Danny DeVito (Dr. Larry Arbogast), Emma Thompson (Dr. Diana Reddin), Frank Langella (Dr. Noah Banes), Pamela Reed (Angela)
 
One-joke comedy built around the concept that Arnold Schwarzenegger (playing a doctor) becoming pregnant would be hilarious. It really isn't, but isn't atrociously terrible either, though it's the lines which Emma Thompson delivers which provide the film's finer points.
An average Hollywood time-waster which is far from a bundle of joy.
4/10
 
"A comedy about growing up and the bumps along the way."
"A comedy about growing up and the bumps along the way."
JUNO (12)
D: Jason Reitman
20th Century Fox (Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick & Russell Smith)
US 2007
95 mins
 
Comedy
 
W: Diablo Cody
DP: Eric Steelberg
Ed: Dana E. Glauberman
Mus: Mateo Messina
 
Ellen Page (Juno MacGuff), Michael Cera (Paulie Bleeker), Jennifer Garner (Vanessa Loring), Jason Bateman (Mark Loring), Allison Janney (Bren MacGuff), J. K. Simmons (Mac MacGuff), Olivia Thirlby (Leah)
 
I find it unusual that this movie won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, as it isn't really that original, Knocked Up and Junebug are just two variations on the same theme to be released around the same year. It's also not very original to have a teenage character speak dialogue not like a teenager at all, but like a ex-stripper screenwriter trying to crack Hollywood.
The plot follows Juno McGuff as a precocious teenager, who's actually a bit of a bitch, spouting pithy dialogue throughout like it's a 95 minute episode of Dawson's Creek and getting impregnated by her geeky boyfriend (Michael Cera). Juno contemplates abortion, but upon discovering that babies have fingernails she decides to adopt to picket fence couple Jason Bateman & Jennifer Garner, but not all is perfect beneath their facade. 
The main bone of contention I had with this movie is that I really didn't care about Juno. She is very unlikeable, especially the way she speaks to people with complete disrespect, particularly her parents (J. K. Simmons & Alison Janney). The movie is also quite irresponsible, depicting a main character who is 'in a bit of a pickle' and just palms off her responsibilities to someone else, without ever having to take any duty of care for the consequences of her actions. It's all someone else's problem now.
There's constant references throughout to cool music, cool movies and cool figures of pop culture, but this doesn't make Juno a cool movie. Although there's good acting from the ensemble cast, the male characters are written so unbelievably one-dimensionally, especially Jason Bateman whose husband to Jennifer Garner is a pathetic incarnation of a man forced to keep his dreams and ambitions in a locked box with his balls. It's altogether pretty clear that screenwriter Diablo Cody is trying to make some sort of half-arsed statement about feminism with this.
The movie also fails to tie up its loose ends as you'd like it too and the soundtrack is smattered constantly with twee Belle & Sebastian-esque shit. 
Teenage girls will probably adore this movie, but this reviewer found it to be tawdry, overrated (Mc)guff! 
Watch Knocked Up instead, it captures the emotions and issues of an unplanned pregnancy a hell of a lot better without constantly reminding us how cool it is with its "in touch with the kids" dialogue.
5/10
 
JUPITER ASCENDING (12)
D: Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
Warner Bros/Village Roadshow (Grant Hill, Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski)
US/Australia 2015
127 mins

Science Fiction

W: Andy Wachowski & Lana Wachowski
DP: John Toll
Ed: Alexander Berner
Mus: Michael Giacchino

Channing Tatum (Caine Wise), Mila Kunis (Jupiter Jones), Sean Bean (Stinger Apini), Eddie Redmayne (Balem Abrasax), Douglas Booth (Titus Abrasax)

The Wachowski's attempt to create an epic science fiction universe to emulate Star Wars is a royal mess.
Utilising the same Alice In Wonderland stencil they used for The Matrix, Mila Kunis stars as Jupiter Jones, a penniless cleaner who is really the queen of Earth, caught up in a power play with the royal houses of the galaxy who target her for assassination. She is protected by a fallen angel with wolf-like characteristics (played by Channing Tatum, of course) who she ends up falling in love with.
Jupiter Ascending crams way too much into the running time, drawing inspiration from several science fiction movies, including Brazil which it makes reference to in abundance during the second act, especially when Terry Gilliam slips in a cameo.
Despite cramming in too much info, it feels on many an occasion that even more was left on the cutting room floor, making for a choppy storyline that never makes any sense. Some of the visual effects are well done, but when the characters and performances are so poorly handled this means absolutely nothing.
Style over substance would be a polite description. Nonsense over narrative is much closer to the mark.
2/10

"An adventure 65 million years in the making."
"An adventure 65 million years in the making."
JURASSIC PARK (PG)
D: Steven Spielberg
Universal/Amblin (Kathleen Kennedy & Gerald R. Molen)
US 1993
127 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Michael Crichton & David Koepp [based on the novel by Michael Crichton]
DP: Dean Cundey
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Carter

Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant), Laura Dern (Dr. Ellie Satler), Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), Richard Attenborough (John Hammond), Bob Peck (Robert Muldoon), Martin Ferrero (Donald Gennero), Joseph Mazello (Tim Murphy), Ariana Richards (Alexis Murphy), Wayne Knight (Dennis Nendry)

Steven Spielberg re-crowned himself king of the box office when Jurassic Park hit the screens in 1993, knocking his own E.T. off the perch of the most profitable films of cinema history.
From Michael Crichton's novel, it's virtually the same plot as the same writer's Westworld. An eccentric millionaire invites a small group of scientists (& his own grandchildren) to be the first visitors to his dinosaur-themed park, featuring real life specimens of even the most dangerous prehistoric creatures.
Everything goes to pot however when there's a power outage, allowing the dinosaurs to run riot, making lunch of the island's guests.
The visual effects are amongst the very best in cinema history and made a real breakthrough for both animatronics and computer animation. Unfortunately the film's weakness comes from it's storyline. There's so many goofs, geographical errors and plotholes that the movie could be the basis for a decent drinking game. It does still remain the best out of the series of films, but only because it's a visual feast of amazing special effects.
7/10

JURASSIC PARK: THE LOST WORLD (aka THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK) (PG)
D: Steven Spielberg
Universal/Amblin (Gerald R. Molen & Colin Wilson)
US 1997
134 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction

W: David Koepp [based on the novel "The Lost World" by Michael Crichton]
DP: Janusz Kaminski
Ed: Michael Kahn
Mus: John Williams
PD: Rick Carter

Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm), Julianne Moore (Dr. Sarah Harding), Pete Posthelthwaite (Roland Tembo), Arliss Howard (Peter Ludlow), Vince Vaughn (Nick Van Owen), Peter Stormare (Dieter Stark), Vanessa Lee Chester (Kelly Curtis), Richard Attenborough (John Hammond)

A tribute to King Kong would be the kindest thing to say about this sequel. In fact, replace the dinosaurs with a giant ape and that's all this film is- a remake. It's not even apologetic about it and even makes reference to the classic 1933 adventure on more than one occasion.
Lessons weren't learnt from the first Jurassic Park, in fact, to build the theme park, the dinosaurs were bred on a completely different island, and that's where this film takes us, as a jackass businessman plans to capture a Tyrannosaurus Rex and transport it back to America. Absolute genius. 
Unfortunately, this man is not the most irritating character in the film, this accolade goes to Vanessa Lee Chester, who plays Jeff Goldblum's daughter, who is capable of high-kicking a velociraptor to death following a gymnastics display which goes on for way too long.
The film has moments which will have you rolling your eyes in disbelief, but the thing with Steven Spielberg is, no matter how stupid his films can sink, they're always quite entertaining, and this is certainly no different.
There's a few moments which defy belief that this film managed to sneak through censors with a PG rating, but once again, that seems to be Spielberg's magic touch.
6/10

JURASSIC PARK III (PG)

D: Joe Johnston
Universal/Amblin (Kathleen Kennedy & Larry Franco)
US 2001
92 mins
 
Adventure
 
W: Peter Buchman, Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor 
DP: Shelly Johnson
Ed: Robert Dalva
Mus: Don Davis
PD: Ed Verreaux
 
Sam Neill (Dr. Alan Grant), William H. Macy (Paul Kirby), Téa Leoni (Amanda Kirby), Alessandro Nivola (Billy Brennan), Trevor Morgan (Eric Kirby), Michael Jeter (Udeski)
 
More original than The Lost World (which was virtually a King Kong remake) but it's very telling that a switch of director was made for this film, which sees a small group crashland their aeroplane on the dinosaur infested island when a couple are trying to find their missing son. The film suffers heavily due to the fact that it's almost impossible to care about the characters and whether or not they buy it.
Alessandro Nivola is especially annoying and most certainly one of the characters you wouldn't mind getting chomped, but without doubt the performance of Téa Leoni is the worst. She may even leave you wishing there was a 3D version of the film so you could slap her for being such a doxy.
In comparison to the first two films, the special effects are quite poor, but still even the most unconvincing dinosaur is an improvement on the terrible performances. It has enough adventure and thrills to sustain the running time, but this is by far the worst of the Jurassic Park movies (until Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (qv))
4/10
 
"The park is open."
"The park is open."
JURASSIC WORLD (12)
D: Colin Treverrow
Universal/Amblin/Legendary (Frank Marshall & Patrick Crowley)
US 2015
124 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction

W: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Derek Connolly & Colin Treverrow
DP: John Schwartzman
Ed: Kevin Stitt
Mus: Michael Giacchino

Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Vincent D'Onofrio (Vic Hoskins), Ty Simpkins (Grey Mitchell), Nick Robinson (Zach Mitchell), Omar Sy (Barry), B.D. Wong (Dr. Henry Wu), Irrfan Khan (Simon Masrani)

It would seem that lessons weren't learned from the previous three films so a Jurassic World theme park has opened to the public on the same site from the very first film, the reasons for this are because money is the root of all evil.
The tourist attraction is running at a loss, mostly because it looks like a zoo, albeit with dinosaurs, but it's still a zoo, a tourist attraction which is struggling to meet overheads because kids use the internet nowadays when they want to see what a lion looks like, or whatever.
The quest for more profits are spearheaded by a repugnant careerist, whose brainchild is to create a dinosaur which can cloak its movements, hence making it the most dangerous creature on earth. She must have skipped the day at business school when they taught common sense.
During a weekend when her nephews come to visit, the monster breaks loose, killing everything in its path as it makes its way to the most populous part of the island, where a smorgasbord of gormless tourists lie in wait.
To stop the beast, she asks a raptor trainer (seriously, the park has these), a cross between Tarzan and Doctor Dolittle, who she has a bit of history with, foreshadowing the plot device that, at some point in the movie, these two are getting together, and who'd blame him, the only other woman on the entire island spends every minute of life talking on her cell phone.
Jurassic World is a sequel with major flaws. The biggest one being that the characters are so stupid that it's almost impossible to care what their chances of survivability are. The only character with an ounce of credibility is the Raptor-trainer Chris Pratt, who has clearly been cast as an audition to be the new Indiana Jones (sigh).
All the supporting characters are virtually made out of cardboard, including Omar Sy, who might as well be a lion tamer walking around in the background and Vincent D'Onofrio, a villain with a motive so brainless that it's inevitable that he'll reap what he sows.
There's plenty of nods, winks and references to the first Jurassic Park film, which this is clearly aspiring to be with practically every swell of John Williams' memorable music score, but the story completely lacks credibility, even with a plot involving a dinosaur-theme park. 
It's a critic-proof film though, people will watch it for the special effects, the majority of which are quite impressive, but they still don't mask over the giant holes in the plot. Still, it will be enjoyed if you ignore how stupid it all is (which isn't at all to say that it's a film for stupid people).
5/10

"Life Finds A Way."
"Life Finds A Way."

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (12)

D: J.A. Bayona 

Universal/Amblin/Legendary (Frank Marshall, Patrick Crowley & Belen Atienza)

US 2018

128 mins


Adventure/Science Fiction


W: Colin Treverrow & Derek Connolly [based on characters created by Michael Crichton]

DP: Oscar Faura

Ed: Bernat Vilaplana

Mus: Michael Giacchino


Chris Pratt (Owen Grady), Bryce Dallas Howard (Claire Dearing), Rafe Spall (Eli Mills), Justice Smith (Franklin Webb), Daniella Pineda (Dr. Zia Rodriguez), James Cromwell (Sir Benjamin Lockwood), Toby Jones (Gunnar Eversoll), Ted Levine (Ken Wheatley), Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Ian Malcolm)


If 2015's Jurassic World is considered a weak retread of the original Jurassic Park, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is an incredibly weak retread of The Lost World, with added stupidity, cringeworthy dialogue and pointless subplots shoved in for good measure.

Bryce Dallas Howard reprises her role as Claire Dearing, the annoying CEO from Jurassic World, except in this film she runs a charity for dinosaur rights (seriously), campaigning for the lives of the various species abandoned on the island site as a volcano threatens a violent eruption that will kill anything left behind. 

She teams up again with old flame Owen Grady, when she accepts an invitation to return to the island to save the dinosaur species, and they are both told that saving a velociraptor is key to their mission.

Cue bad guys who want to bring deadly dinosaurs back to the United States for no other reason except money and the rest of the plot is pretty much paint-by-numbers. 

Director J.A. Bayona, with his background in horror, brings a darker vision to the franchise, and although there are a handful of interesting moments, you're likely to have already seen them in the trailer.

This is easily the weakest of all the Jurassic Park movies, full of irritating characters and terrible dialogue to the point that it's become clear that big Hollywood studio blockbusters are more concerned with having a diverse and inclusive cast rather than having an exciting storyline.

Even Jeff Goldblum is wasted in a cameo role which is completely separate to the main story and one of the (ridiculous) plot twists seems to be wedged in for no reason as it goes absolutely nowhere except to set up yet another sequel.

Definitely one of the worst films of 2018.

3/10


"For truth. For justice. For five bucks a day."
"For truth. For justice. For five bucks a day."

JURY DUTY (12)

D: John Fortenberry
Tristar/Triumph/Weasel (Yoren Ben-Ami & Peter Lenkov)
US 1995
86 mins

Comedy

W: Neil Tolkin, Barbara Williams & Samantha Adams
DP: Avi Karpick
Ed: Stephen Semel
Mus: David Kitay

Pauly Shore (Tommy Collins), Tia Carrere (Monica Lewis), Stanley Tucci (Frank / Billy), Brian Doyle-Murray (Harry), Abe Vigoda (Judge Edward Powell)

A slacker layabout sitting on a jury attempts to prolong the trial of a serial killer so he can continue a life of luxury while being sequestered in a hotel.
If you enjoy the comedy stylings of Pauly Shore, you'll find this film a riot. If not, you'll see it for what it really is: Lamentably terrible, and that's a verdict which doesn't need a jury's decision.
3/10

"Justice is served."
"Justice is served."

JUSTICE LEAGUE (12)

D: Zack Snyder (& Joss Whedon)

Warner Bros/Ratpac-Dune/DC/Atlas (Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg & Geoff Johnson)

US 2017

120 mins


Action/Adventure/Fantasy


W: Chris Terrio & Joss Whedon [based on the comic book by Gardner Fox]

DP: Fabian Wagner

Ed: David Brenner, Richard Pearson & Martin Walsh

Mus: Danny Elfman


Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince / Wonder Woman),  Ezra Miller (Barry Allen / The Flash), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry / Aquaman), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone / Cyborg), Ciaran Hinds (Steppenwolf), Henry Cavill (Kal-El / Superman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane)


***SPOILER WARNINGS***

Following the disappointment of Batman vs Superman and the contrasting elation of Wonder Woman, I wasn't quite sure what my expectations would be for Justice League, which brings together all the big DC superheroes to battle the bad guys.

It's fundamentally important to have seen BVS and Wonder Woman before watching Justice League, and it's not possible to review this without spoilers for the forementioned (especially Batman vs Superman)

The film wastes no time with an opening action set piece, as Batman fights an alien being, who are popping up all over the world following the death of Superman. It soon emerges that they are scouts for a powerful being called Steppenwolf, who is seeking three powerful boxes entrusted to certain superheroes, with which he schemes to create his own apocalyptic world.

Bruce Wayne wastes no time assembling his team, although Aquaman and Cyborg are both initially reluctant to join. 

Even when the five superheroes do unite, they are out of their depth against the demonic villain and plot to resurrect Superman, which may not bode so well for Batman.

The build up is a bit of a mess, settling for comic relief from Barry Allen (The Flash) rather than any serious character development, but when everything is all set up for the big showdown, it does have moments of excitement.

As a complete package, it's far from perfect, and Marvel don't have to worry about being knocked off their perch as the Superhero behemoth. Some of the effects are shoddy, especially the digital erasion of Henry Cavill's moustache and the CGI bad guy, who is a very one dimension character. Still, it isn't nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest.

5/10