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Diesel Edney receives the Galen Therapy Centre's annual Extraordinary Dog of the Year Award

Marc Abraham, Sophie Edney and Diesel Edney - Marc Abraham ('Marc the Vet') presents the Galen Therapy Centre's annual Extraordinary Dog of the Year Award to Diesel Edney, a three-legged Patterdale Terrier at National Exhibition Centre - Birmingham, United Kingdom - Saturday 7th March 2015

RoboCop Review


OK

There's a robust, intelligent tone to this action remake that makes it continually intriguing, even if it's never properly exciting. The problem is that the characters are far too simplistic for us to care about, with moral dilemmas that are extremely cut and dried. Because the premise deals with several provocative themes, it wouldn't have taken much work to beef up the screenplay.

Set in the near future when American military robots patrol the world but are outlawed at home, the story centres on Omnicorp boss Sellars (Keaton), who is determined to sell his robots to the US market as police enforcers. So he decides to get around the law by putting a man inside a robot, drafting seriously injured Detroit cop Murphy (Kinnaman) as his guinea pig. Doctor Norton (Oldman) does an amazing job, building a machine around Murphy with extremely high technical capabilities. But Murphy can't help but worry about his wife (Cornish) and son, and he's obsessed with revenge over his attempted murder. So Norton is forced to use chemicals to suppress his emotions.

In other words, Murphy is actually more machine than man now, and operates at the whim of Sellars and his media spokesperson (Ehle), marketing nerd (Baruchel) and a rabid TV host (Jackson) to manipulate the US Congress to change the law. This greedy corporation gives the film a bite of satire, as does the issue of America's rampant willingness to brutally suppress anyone outside its borders. But without even a shading of complexity, the plot feels predictable and, frankly, rather dull. It's fun to watch everything happen, but our pulse rates never rise at all.

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'Robocop' World premiere at the BFI IMAX

Marc Abraham - 'Robocop' World premiere at the BFI IMAX - Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 5th February 2014

Marc Abraham

Guide Dog of the Year Awards and Charity Ball

Marc Abraham - Guide Dog of the Year Awards and Charity Ball at the London Hilton - Red Carpet Arrivals - London, United Kingdom - Wednesday 11th December 2013

Marc Abraham
Marc Abraham

The Last Exorcism Part II Review


OK

When you qualify your movie as the "last" anything, a sequel seems a bit out of the question, but these new filmmakers have essentially relegated the 2010 original to a mere backstory. They have moved on from the video-cam format and the whole debunking premise to make a much more straightforward horror romp. And while it's packed with cliches, it heads full-speed into a final act that's jaw-droppingly bonkers enough to make this a guilty pleasure.

After the carnage of that farmhouse exorcism, Nell (Bell) is the only survivor. She's taken to a New Orleans halfway house with other battered women, who begin to teach her how to live her life after growing up in isolation. She still has a sense of her religious roots, but learns to enjoy pop music and even starts flirting with a cute handyman (Clark). Even though she wants to believe that her demon-possession wasn't real, it becomes apparent that maybe that previous exorcism didn't quite take. "A piece of him is still inside you," says an occult expert (Jensen), completely without irony. Indeed the demon is back with a vengeance, and he has something awful in mind.

Filmmaker Gass-Donnelly keeps the atmosphere tense, throwing in elements from every horror film in recent memory, including creepy masked figures, staticky broadcasts, insidious phone calls, buzzing houseflies and even a sassy psychic (Riggs). The soundtrack is full of creep-out noises, while the images are intercut with flickers of the previous film. But all of this is done in that bland Hollywood style that makes us jump without actually freaking us out. Thankfully, the film has Bell on board to deliver a performance much better than the movie deserves: she's genuinely unsettling as the tormented innocent.

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The Man With the Iron Fists Review


Grim

Rapper-turned-actor-turned-filmmaker RZA is clearly influenced by cohorts Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth as he indulges in this crazed pastiche of 1970s kung fu action romps. It's energetic and often quite funny, but far too silly to come together properly, mainly because he never adds any sense of post-modern wit. If the action scenes were more coherent, it at least could have been a guilty pleasure.

In a 19th century Chinese village, an American ex-slave (RZA) is known only as Blacksmith, forging weapons for gang members to raise the money to buy his girlfriend Lady Silk (Chung) from the local brothel's Madam Blossom (Lucy Liu). But their fate is caught up in a battle for power after the patriarch of the Lion clan is murdered and the swaggering Silver Lion (Mann) challenges rightful heir Zen Li (Yune). After a vicious attack by Silver Lion's muscled henchman Brass Body (Bautista), Zen Li is rescued by Blacksmith. And they get help from Englishman Jack Knife (Crowe) to fight Silver Lion and his thugs.

The title refers to something that happens about halfway in, when Blacksmith forges new arms for himself after being attacked by Silver Lion for helping Zen Li. This sets the stage for an orgy of metal-on-metal battling (there are also bronze and copper characters), leading to a clattering showdown between Blacksmith and Brass Body, who for some inexplicable reason can morph his body into, yes, brass. As such a wild fantasy, it's not surprising that the plot makes so little sense, although a bit more genuine character depth would have helped hold our interest.

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The Last Exorcism Review


Excellent
The best thing about this film is the way it continually subverts our expectations. It tells an unnerving story in a disarmingly natural way that's thoroughly believable, all without resorting to corny movie hokum. Until the end, that is.

Rev Cotton Marcus (Fabian) has been a preacher since he was a little boy, following in the footsteps of his father (Wright) to hold his congregation in the palm of his hand and exorcise demons when necessary. But a crisis has undermined his faith, so he hires a TV crew (Bahr and Grimes) to document the the ridiculous trickery he uses to perform one final exorcism. But nothing about this possessed girl (Bell), her father (Herthum) or brother (Jones) is as expected. And Cotton starts to doubt that there's a logical explanation.

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Let's Go to Prison Review


Grim
I can attest first-hand that there are certain facts about Let's Go to Prison that might make it seem worthwhile. It was directed by Bob Odenkirk, the "Bob" half of the sometimes brilliant sketch comedy show Mr. Show with Bob & David; it was written by other sketch-comedy veterans, driving forces behind The State and, more recently, Reno 911; and it stars Will Arnett from Arrested Development, a show that was not sketch comedy but still favored by comedy connoisseurs. Other loose-collective comedies of this time period, like Talladega Nights or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, pool comedy's best and brightest to thoroughly entertaining results. Why should this lower-wattage but still talent-heavy film be any different?

Well, Let's Go to Prison also stars Dax Shepard, so maybe that should sound the alarm. But Prison is actually too mediocre to explain away by the presence of one guy from Punk'd. In fact, Shepard isn't a problem at all. He plays John Lyshitski (the film nicks one of the saddest Farrelly brothers trademarks -- non-jokes where the very presence of the S-word functions as a de facto punchline), a career petty criminal plagued by his own ineptitude and a hardass judge. Before he can get revenge, the judge dies -- so naturally he frames the judge's spoiled son, Nelson Biederman IV (Arnett), and gets himself thrown back in jail, pretending to befriend Biederman but tormenting him behind his back.

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Children Of Men Review


Excellent
Perhaps because of its bleak outlook, its lushly dark tones, or its often blunt criticism of the current world state, Alfonso Cuaron's fourth major film will have to fight just as hard as his two Spanish films to find an audience. The bearer of one the worst marketing and public relations campaigns in years, Children of Men could have been the wriggling stepson that Universal has made it out to be, but it turns out to be anything but.

It's 2027, and the youngest person in Britain (and the world), Baby Diego, has just been killed by a rabid fan; he was 18. Somewhere between 2006 and 2016, women started becoming infertile, causing mass miscarriages and major panics. Theo (Clive Owen) doesn't seem that concerned when we meet him, narrowly averting an explosion near a local café. He spends his time with his friend Jasper (a wily Michael Caine) who makes cannabis mixed with strawberry and tries to forget the family he once had. Julian (Julianne Moore), his ex-wife, has taken up with a pack of refugees that fight against the military state that has been active since London began understanding its grave future. When Julian stumbles upon a girl who miraculously is with child, she immediately kidnaps Theo and puts him in charge of getting the girl, Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey), to a specialized group of the world's smartest people known as the Human Project.

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The Emperor's Club Review


Excellent
There's an old cheap saying that goes "those who can, do; those who can't, teach". Professor William Hundert (Kevin Kline) would disagree. A true scholar of the Classics, this intellectual believes that there is no greater endeavor than the passing-on of knowledge, that molding a young man's life is a noble and important vocation. What Professor Hundert gets for his lofty ideals is a lesson in cynicism, and maybe humility, in this fine effort from director Michael Hoffman (A Midsummer Night's Dream), which features an exceptionally strong performance from Kline, an actor who consistently raises the level of nearly every film he's in.

It's the mid-1970s at a proper boys' prep school in DC, and Kline's Hundert encounters his first splash in the face with the cold water of life outside revered academia when he meets the father of a mischievous underachieving student. The stern dad, a brash U.S. senator, scolds Hundert: "You will not mold my son, I will mold my son". With a dose more sympathy for the kid, Hundert befriends him and watches him turn into a studying machine.

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The Rundown Review


Grim
The dentist responsible for maintaining The Rundown cast's teeth deserves an Academy Award. Leading man The Rock's flashy grin steals the spotlight from his weight room-generated physique. Seann William Scott must floss three times a day to maintain his dazzling smile. Even Rosario Dawson, playing the leader of rebel guerilla troops, seems to benefit from a tremendous dental plan.

Judging from the amount of time I spent analyzing molars and fillings, you can imagine how exciting I found the action on screen. The Rundown is yet another paint-by-numbers buddy comedy tailor-made for the former wrestler's brawny talents. The story follows bounty hunter Beck (The Rock) into the Amazon on the trail of Travis (Scott), an amateur archeologist and the wayward son of Beck's seedy boss. Travis seeks The Gatto, a solid gold relic reportedly worth millions, and he's racing wealthy land tycoon Hatcher (Christopher Walken) and gorgeous rebel leader Mariana (Dawson) to the loot.

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Spy Game Review


OK
Oh sure, it's all fun and games in the CIA. Robert Redford's CIA, that is. Of course, if Redford ran the world, we'd all be wearing $98 bison leather moccasins while we drank our lattes.

And so we go back to 1991, where haggard spy Nathan Muir (Redford) is retiring from The Agency, but wouldn't ya know it -- that very day, his old protégé Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) has gotten captured on a mission in Eastern China. And Tom is going to be executed -- when? In 24 hours, of course. And the CIA isn't going to save him. In fact, they're trying to paint him as a crazy renegade unaffiliated with the U.S.

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Bring It On Review


Grim
There's a point about 35 minutes into Bring It On where you suddenly realize you're sitting in a movie theater, watching Bring It On, wondering exactly how the hell the events in your life conspired to put your ass in an uncomfortable movie theater seat... to watch Bring It On. But soon you give up, knowing there is no answer to this dilemma, and you resign yourself to watching the next hour of Bring It On, knowing full well that since it's a PG-13 movie, nothing scandalous is ever going to happen to make it interesting.

Going in to this movie, I knew full well it was, well, a movie about cheerleading, so I wasn't expecting another American Beauty (which, now that I think of it, was partly about cheerleading, but anyway...). Suffice it to say that my expectations were low. And sure enough, Bring It On is an utterly vapid film with horrendous character development, hackneyed dialogue, and a questionable theme. No surprise there. Essentially it is Fame in short skirts.

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The Family Man Review


Good
Just in time for Christmas comes a story worthy of both Ebenezer and Jimmy Stewart, with Wild at Heart's Nicholas Cage cast in the role of the out of touch rich guy. Jack Campbell (Cage) is not a bad man. He's not even a callous man. He's just a regular guy who happens to believe that millions of dollars, a beautiful blonde lover, and a Ferrari in the garage are ample compensation for whatever he may be missing in the way of mediocre suburban living.

But when this good-natured Wall Street mega-titan puts his life on the line to save a convenience store from a firefight, he makes a big mistake. Because that kid with the pistol (Don Cheadle) is no ordinary hoodlum -- he's some kind of wacky angel or ghost-of-Christmas-in-a-parallel-universe or something. And little does Jack know, as he lay himself down to sleep on Christmas Eve, that he'll wake the next morning to the life he could've had if only he'd married his college girlfriend (Téa Leoni, Deep Impact) instead of following his ambition to become one of the world's richest, most powerful men.

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A Thousand Acres Review


Terrible
This adaptation (read: poor imitation) of Shakespeare's King Lear sports Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Lange, and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the three twisted sisters of ailing king Jason Robards -- only this time the kind is a farmer with a whopping 1000 acres. Parcelling the property becomes a headache thanks to Leigh's ungrateful bitch of a daughter, and soon enough a legal battle ensues... not to mention accusations of abuse, alcoholism, and every other hot-button sin you could name. No one is good in this movie. Everyone plays a variation on the annoying sad sack -- Pfeiffer probably being the worst of all. I don't know anything to redeem the movie except for an understated performance from Leigh -- unless you're into masochism. Avoid.
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