Season of the Witch

Also released under the title 'Jacks Wife'
Romero completists will also have noticed the R1 release of Season of the Witch, made in the aftermath of Night of the Living Dead.

It’s one of those movies that I’ve tried to like for years, but it’s horribly dated, telling the story of a neglected wife who turns to witchcraft as an alternative to her boring marriage. It has a sort of Bergman attitude mixed with a swinging sixties vibe, and if you think that sounds hideous, you’re right. The editing’s great, but that’s the least you expect from the man. To round off the Romero collection, the disk also contains There’s Always Vanilla, previously though to have been lost, and made at about the same time. George appears on the disk in a documentary about both movies, and he’s appropriately critical about both.

For completists and aging hippies only.

Mild Peril Rating: ★½☆☆☆

War of the Worlds

Yet another blockbuster, War of the Worlds took me a bit by surprise, as I was expecting a formulaic Spielberg/Cruise/John Williams movie, and I’m not a big fan of H.G Wells either. Yet Spielberg has had a bit of a brainwave for the first time in many years, and has made what might be the first intimate blockbuster.

There are several massive set-pieces, but these are kept deliberately obscure and in the background, while Cruise attempts to sort out his family problems involving daughter Dakota Fanning and an anonymous teenager. Of course Cruise is neither average enough nor old enough for the role, and the wacky approach is bound to annoy fans of both Wells and Spielberg, but it’s a fascinating if flawed idea. The Martians are convincing and alien enough, and Tim Robbins puts in an interesting performance as a madman, while not making it obvious that he’s a foot taller than Cruise for plot reasons. We even get Gene Barry and Anne Robinson, stars of the 1953 version, making an appearance at the end, and thankfully there’s no sign of Jeff Wayne.

I expect many people to disagree, but this is an intelligent and exciting movie which will only improve in hindsight. One thing though: please, no more Morgan Freeman voiceovers.

Mild Peril Rating: ★★★☆☆

Sin City

Sin City created a bit of controversy when director Robert Rodriguez left the DGA to give Miller and Tarantino co-directing credits. Unfortunately this selfless gesture proves to be a bit of a wasted one, as the end result doesn’t justify it.

The cast is very impressive, with Bruce Willis and Mickey Rourke the standouts (although Jessica Alba fans will no doubt have worn out that bit of the DVD by now). Like Batman Begins, the production design is great – it’s almost entirely black and white with odd flashes of colour – but the difference is that the assortment of stories fail to hold our interest, we don’t care about any of the cardboard characters, and it’s all a bit too proud of its own outrageousness. It’s a great shame as it’s almost a great movie with a neat gimmick, but it’s about time the talented Rodriguez made a movie for grown-ups.

Mild Peril Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Batman Begins

The best of this year’s Big Movies for me was Christopher Nolan’s striking and ambitious Batman Begins. It should really have been called Batman Rescued, as I still have bitter memories of paying money to see Schumacher’s abominations. Not only does Nolan manage to regain the dark knight’s credibility from those disasters, he also manages… Read more »

Welcome to the Future

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