Welcome to UK Films Net

Welcome to UKFilms.net - Providing independent movie reviews since 2002. Here at UK Films Net, we are on a mission to seek out the coolest films and hidden gems from micro-budget to Hollywood blockbusters. We review films in all genres and all eras. We review the actual movies and the DVD quality. We have an attraction to B-Movies as this is the area where most hidden gems can be found, but we provide the lowdown on popular blockbusters too.

City Hall Movie Review

Title: City Hall
Format: DVD
Year: 1996
Label: Warner Bros.

This is a political thriller staring Al Pacino and John Cusack with a minor supporting role by Bridget Fonda.

The plot revolves around the Mayor of New York ( Pacino ) and his deputy ( Cusack ) caught up in a political scandal when a young boy is caught in the cross-fire between a mobster and a cop. The boy dies. In fact all three die. It becomes a political mine field when suggestions that the cop was dirty hit the media.

The acting is top class with all actors including the supporting roles delivering outstanding performances. The only exception is Bridget Fonder. It's not a terrible performance but the makes no real impact or connection with the other characters. This may be down to the writing. She is a similar role to Sandra Bullock in A Time To kill which was released in the same year, but Fonda's Character is not developed we'll enough and feels like an after thought. "We need a supporting actress similar to that film they are shooting over at Warner Bros."

The direction is excellent and the whole production is slick. In a very 
90's way. Maybe too slick.

The plot develops nicely and at a steady pace allowing the characters to develop and the bond between the Mayor and his deputy to cross over to the viewer.

After you get over the dense dialogue, the American political  and New York colloquial  Dialect and etiquette, you start to get a feel for the city. The viewer is lead to feel less alienated by the fact that Cussack's character is not originally from New York and although he tries to actively participate and integrate the Cultural influences present in City Hall into his own life, he is still only learning.

When you finally get around to absorbing the plot, you may think that you know how it will end. You are probably right. But the journey is worth the ride in my opinion. Even though there are no major unexpected twists, the way the prices come together is engaging mainly due to the fact that the actor make the character feel real.

In conclusion I would recommend this movie for those who enjoy political thrillers. There have been some great ones in recent times and this one is often over- looked. 

UK Films Rating: 7.5/10
Release Rating: 3/10 - OK transfer and only a Trailer
Did James like it? Yes

Freerunner Movie Review

Title: Freerunner
Format: DVD

Year: 2011
Label: Revolver

The stars of the very successful Football Factory & The Business team up again for 'The Ultimate Death Race.' Sounds like fun.

First of all I have to mention that I have been sorely disappointed with Hassan & Dyer's recent films with the exception of Dead Man Running which I actually enjoyed. The duo seem to be living out their roles from The Business in real life. From the heights of success and coolness to the dirty shell-suited desperadoes just clinging on to a slither of dignity in their third act. But that could all change with 'Freerunner.'

The UK DVD release from revolver 
features Danny Dyer and Tamer Hassan weilding massive machine guns. It looks cool, but you soon realise by reading the synopsis on the back that neither of them in the lead role in this movie. Sean Francis is. He is not on the front cover at all. So we know the cover is misleading, not a good start, but at this point I'm not put off. 

The movie starts with some overly stylised shaky camera footage of some free runners - running and jumping. It's ok but doesn't really hold your attention. The added film grain and colour grading seems to work ok, but that damn shaky camera is so annoying. We get a glimpse of Hassan and Dyer and then some bad acting by the freerunners. Oh dear. There is some voiceover work by Hassan ( or was it Dyer, I can't remember ) and then we are introduced to the main character who has an internal dialogue voice over. Not a good start for him either BUT after the pointless monologue, we see some actual acting and it turns out that Sean Feris actually carries this film. His acting is good, he looks like Tom Cruise, he sounds like Tom Cruise and he is playing a similar role to... Tom Cruise 'Race against time...get to the bad guys before they get to you' - It works. That is the the positives. All of the positives in that one sentence.

The negatives are substantial. The film has too many vibes going on. Serious action vibe, tongue in cheek vibe, grindhouse vibe... Some of the characters don't seem to know what their motivation is or what context to play their roles. Dyers character is unconvincing as the main bad guy. Hassan doesn't really have a role worth mentioning at all.

The first half of the film is very hard work. The acting is bad, the direction is awful, the freerunning stuff is tedious and the story is very weak. The second half is alot better, the real story is revealed and the race begins. There story is basically: a group of freerunners have to race to the other side of town. They have exploding colors fitted. Only one will survive. Bets are taken from billionaires and it's televised in a running man style. The main problem with this is freerunning. It just isn't necessary and is actually quite boring to watch. They are meant to be fighting for their lives but the fights are general action is lame. It would have been much better to stick to the old tried and tested random people or bad-ass convicts.

To summerise. The main problem with Freerunner is the free running. The second problem is that Dyer and Hassan's characters are one dimensional at best. The fact that the DVD miss-leads the viewer so badly really doesn't help matters. Those guns shown on the cover are not in the movie at all. Hassan doesn't go anywhere near a gun at any point and Dyer spends 99% of his screen time in an office.

UK Films Rating: 3/10
Release Rating: 7/10 - Behind Scenes and freerunning extras
Did James like it? No

Sexy Beast Movie Review

Title: Sexy Beast
Format: DVD

Year: 2000
Label: FilmFour

Sexy Beast is a gangster movie featuring Ray Winstone. Maybe you are thinking that about sums it up, I know that's all I'd really have to know to make my own assumptions as to the nature of the movie - a gritty London based run of the mill cockney  cock fight. This is not at all what this film is like - is that a good thing? I'm not entirely sure.

The story revolves around two couples, retired from a life of crime who have found peace and harmony living the good life on Spain. A face from the past appears summoning Ray Winston's character to return to London for 'one last job' - so far so big standard. The difference here being that Ray Winston is not the hard man. He's afraid if saying no and it takes alot of courage for him to say no. Ben Kingsley's character will not accept no for an answer. 

I must say that the direction shows some real flares of genius but also is left wanting in other places. The script is great but the plot doesn't quite deliver. The acting is superb especially by Cavan Kendall and Ben Kingsley.

It feels like a gangster film fighting against being an art film which doesn't quite sit well together. It may be my own Pre-conceived notions of what a gangster movie, or maybe even a conflict movie should be, but for me, although it has a great atmosphere, it never really feels immersive. The plot doesn't thrill. Maybe it isn't meant to. The lead character is not a hero. Again maybe this is not a bad thing, it's very realistic in that sense and it gives the character some genuine depth.

The release itself is very good. Great packaging and artwork. Lots of extra features.

On the whole I would recommend watching this movie we a Pre-warning not to expect your typical gangster film. If you go into expecting that, it will lead you on for the first half of the movie and you may be disappointed with the second half.

UK Films Rating: 7/10
Release Rating: 8/10 - Exellent transfer. Trailers. Behind Scenes...
Did James like it? Yes