spen has written 13 reviews for films rated ★★½ .

  • Stan & Ollie

    Stan & Ollie

    ★★½

    Though evocative and charming, Stan and Ollie became too sentimental and lacking through-line for me.

  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

    ★★½

    Yeah, fine. I found the big moments largely boring or unearned.

  • Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

    Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

    ★★½

    [I watched The Approaching Storm fanedit]

    Vastly better than I remembered, but painful in the Anakin scenes, and baggy in the second half.

  • Spectre

    Spectre

    ★★½

    Though a Moore-esque cartoon of gutless spectacle, Spectre's action, Newman score, slapstick and sex appeal just support its 148-minute heft.

    Bond, demobbed AGAIN and inconsequentially lobotomised, rushes inexplicably into love with Swann (Seydoux) and bed with steaming hot Lucia Sciarra (Bellucci). Fingernail Jaws 'Hinx' (Bautista) gets laughs.

    Superficial criticism of the GCHQ/MI5/SIS merger, Five Eyes network, privatisation and drones reruns lost battles, 2004-13. M and Denbigh's catfight demeans intended gravity. Further escalation of personal stakes gazumps the 'Bond as codename' hypothesis.

    The writing cannot support this narrative scale. Plot and villain fail, despite Blofeld's (Waltz) best efforts.

  • Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story​

    Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story​

    ★★½

    Why give abuser, homophobe and bully John K / Kricfalusi a platform? To see daddy issues, charisma and poetic love for this threatened art form obscure the reality of his crimes?

    Note though women, including Elinor Blake, Kelly Armstrong, Libby Simon and Mary Harrington, at the heart of this story. Producer Vanessa Coffey saw potential. Exec Geraldine Laybourne advocated for the show. Lynne Naylor-Reccardi drew the layouts and booby ladies. Robin Byrd patiently recounts her survival of paedophilic exploitation.

    Kricfalusi remains unclear what he did. Probed, he rehearses his measured verbal response. This confused film might fervently have rejected his mythos.

  • Tomorrow Never Dies

    Tomorrow Never Dies

    ★★½

    Eon rehabilitates China for another action movie happening to star Bond.

    Carver's (Pryce) camp and menace, like Trevelyan's, fail in the writing. Stamper (Otto) palely imitates predecessors. Old flame Paris (Hatcher) offers chemistry but an insincere response to criticism of Bond's misogyny. Kaufman's (Schiavelli) pompous humour nearly saves the middling villain roster. Comedy star, action hero, Q stand-in and fitted leather model Wai Lin (Yeoh) gets damseled and romanced.

    Freshened by a strong opener, car briefing, Wacky Races phone game and kung fu moments, the movie blunders in its schmaltzy music, poor screenplay, and directing, with baggy scenes and unnecessary slow-motion.

  • GoldenEye

    GoldenEye

    ★★½

    Yeltsin's gold rush sexes up Die Hard.

    Onatopp (Janssen), a perfect post-Blush sadist, Ouromov (John) and Boris (Cumming) support Trevelyan (Bean), whose personal connection stumbles only in telenovela motivation. Do Russian actors exist?

    A dreary, synthetic score and Moore-era staging poorly suit harder content. Brosnan, solid solo, enjoys bogus romance with Natalya (Scorupco).

    Cool bits: an outstanding opener; Bond's in-car printer; a tank and armoured train chase; M's (Dench) gravity; Zukowsky (Coltrane); and a jungle lake satellite lair filmed for real in Puerto Rico.

    My first 007 disappoints. Settings and characterisation shine. Much else aged like the Guantánamo Bay joke.

  • The Living Daylights

    The Living Daylights

    ★★½

    Rehashing Octopussy, a rogue Soviet launches one last ploy before the fall. A+ choreography and thrilling le Carré first act jar with low-key techno beats and flat gags. Dalton, stiff at slapstick and romance but sexy in action, begs for a revised tone.

    A 'new' policy of détente emerges under Reagan. Inscrutable plot devices amass, unending.

    Bond shows his creepy, controlling, drug-smuggling mujahid side in pushy tryst with cellist ingénue Kara (d'Abo). Whitaker's (Baker) sneeze shield stars in a flaccid finale.

    A supreme, rebooted start with actual spy shit gives way to a tedious gewgaw labyrinth.

  • Never Say Never Again

    Never Say Never Again

    ★★½

    Carry On Convalescence improves on Thunderball.

    Eonless, competence wanes. Cockney Q, kook M, elderly Scottish Bond, boob Small-Fawcett (Atkinson) and wasted Blofeld (von Sydow) mouth bleary lines. The score blows. Everything drags on too long. Igor eyeballs aside, the plot sputters.

    Humour resurrects it. Wonderful, vain, misandrist Blush (Carrera) hams and dresses resplendent. Bond sucks at a masochistic, Dalek-voiced video game. Domino (Basinger) plays Gravitar and dances Addams Family tango. Musk-esque window masturbator Largo (Brandauer) nails charismatic mania, trapping Domino with gaslit generosity.

    Connery reprises handsy, cruel, and funny, then finally retires after killing a man with his piss.

  • Moonraker

    Moonraker

    ★★½

    Bond spoofs prestige cinema. Buglers reprise Also sprach Zarathustra; door panels sing Close Encounters; 007 rides with The Magnificent Seven; meanwhile producers reach for Lucasfilm/Spielberg receipts.

    Delirious narrative obscures predecessor-remakeitude. Ever pop out for flowers and accidentally board a shuttle? Bond mansplains space-travel to a rocket scientist and wiggles a rubber snake in Drax's (Lonsdale) oneiric Incan fellatio palace / trapezoid Brutalist screen den. Serial killer Jaws (now with steel testicles) admirably forbears genocidal racial purity programme.

    Tolerable silliness buoys excess in the gondola sequence, product placement, and lasers. Ageing premises and poor writing bloat down ambitious production.

  • Die Hard 2

    Die Hard 2

    ★★½

    Elaborate staging and effects prop up a serviceable rehearsal. Men die.

    A naked workout montage intercuts with McClane (Willis) transgressing off-duty. Airports outstrip office buildings, but outwit screenwriters. How can planes without fuel explode? Why could the pilots not land elsewhere?

    A conveyer crushes a bro's head. McClane icicle-skewers another fella's eyeball. A final dude mists through a turbine.

    Stakes suffer and jokes seem less funny a second time. But this series' politics emerges: journalists lack ethics; cops mostly suck; heroes need Black male supporting actors. Engineer Barnes (Evans) cuts the sole sympathetic figure. Major Grant (Amos) menaces with gravity.

  • Diamonds Are Forever

    Diamonds Are Forever

    ★★½

    A traumatised widower lets go in Vegas.

    Bond, now famous, beds busty gold diggers, but seeks a comedic, hirsute Blofeld (Henderson). Lazenby lies forgotten.

    Neither broken glass, cremation, premature burial nor nocturnal parkour daunt our hero. A diamond space laser destroys all nuclear weapons. Bond crashes the fake moon landing set, and actor-astronauts maintain their low gravity pretence while apprehending him.

    Women enjoy less agency than usual. Tiffany (St. John) fluffs her cliffhanger proposal. A Black performer becomes a gorilla. Bond kicks Blofeld's cat. Threadless sleaze almost reaches salvation through Blofeld in drag and a cute relationship between gay villains.