Archive for: April 2012


In a slight departure to our normal content, moviescramble reviews the  Television Sci-Fi drama Alcatraz from executive producer JJ Abrams.

In 1963 three hundred and two inmates and guards disappeared from the prison island of Alcatraz. The incident was covered up. A cover story was devised with all the missing persons moved and conveniently lost in the system. Fifty years later some of the worst criminal America has ever seen are returning to an unsuspecting San Francisco. Where were they and why are they coming back?

The premise for the show was initially quite interesting. It had a lot of potential. The public are looking for another lost type show which slowly unfolds while keeping the interest and intrigue. Unfortunately Alcatraz is not it. After the initial set up where we meet the main cast members the show slips into a standard formula. As part of the team we have the ‘broken’ cop Rebecca Madsen (Sarah Jones). She has just lost her partner in the pursuit of a perp, blames herself and is trying to regain her mojo. Her investigation into a murder leads to a meeting with a mysterious government agent, Emerson Hauser( Sam Neil) who tries to dissuade Rebecca from continuing her investigation. Obviously this only piques her curiosity. Continue reading “Alcatraz” »

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games Poster24 children thrown together and expected to murder each other for the overall benefit of society. I’m thinking this sounds like a fairly good real world solution, never mind in movie-land. Alas, as it wouldn’t work in real life, it doesn’t really work in the cinema either. Adapted from the popular series of novels, The Hunger Games takes place in an unspecified time in the future where America no longer exists and is replaced by Panem, a series of 12 districts and the controlling upper class.

As punishment for the revolt of a now destroyed 13th district, every year a male and female tribute are selected by lottery from each district to take part in the titular Hunger Games, a gladiatorial fight to the death televised for the world to see. When her younger sisters name is pulled from the lottery, Katniss Everdeen steps in to volunteer in her stead and along with bakers boy Peeta Mellark begin their journey to the opulent capitol city and start their training under the tutelage of Woody Harrelson’s drunken mentor, himself a survivor of the games. Continue reading “The Hunger Games” »

The Magnificent Showman

As part of our Second Chance Cinema strand we look at the 1964 film The Magnificent Showman.

There came a period in John Wayne’s career where he stopped playing the part as presented in the script and started playing the version of John Wayne that the public wanted to see. In the Sixties after an incredible run of top westerns and war films, under the direction of some of Hollywood’s directors, The Duke started appearing in more comedy themed roles and much less of the drama roles he made his name with. As the star he held enormous sway in the product his name was attached to. This did not always lead to the best of decisions and some times the end product was wanting. Right in the middle of this period came the circus drama The Magnificent Showman(also known as Circus World).

John Wayne plays Matt Masters, the owner of a wild west themed Circus set at the start of the twentieth century. The season has come to a succesful conclusion and Matt decides to take the circus on a tour of Europe against the advice of those closest to him. These tours never come off well and are fraught with difficulty for all involved. Frequently it ‘s the graveyard of US circuses. This is not a deterrent for Matt in the slightest. Continue reading “The Magnificent Showman” »

The Debt

Every action has a reaction. It may not be immediate and it may not be apparent, but it will happen and the consequences of the action can be far reaching.  This forms the basic premise for the 2011 film The Debt.

Three young Mossad agents Rachel, Stephen and David (Jessica Chastain, Marton Csokas and Sam Worthington) are sent to Soviet East Berlin in 1965 to track down and return to Israel with a Nazi war criminal, Doctor Bernhardt. Despite careful planning and execution the operation hits a snag. They must hold onto the Nazi until another opportunity to escape East Berlin. After some time the old Nazi tries to escape and is apparently killed by Rachel. Continue reading “The Debt” »


When a film is described as how someone comes to terms with cancer you tend to fear the worst. There have been too many movie of the week entries where the story is so predictable that I could almost write the lines of dialogue. From the initial shock, through anger and acceptance the story line has been done to death. So when moviescramble sat down to watch 50/50, a comedy about cancer that was based on a true story, the alarm bells were already ringing.

The film centres on Adam (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a twenty-seven year old writer for a radio station. A pain in his back leads to the discovery that he has a rare form of cancer that has grown on his back. He has to seek aggressive treatment so he can have surgery that will give him a better chance for survival. Continue reading “50/50” »

Movie Podcasts review part 1: UK podcasts

There are dozens of sites out there providing the internet with movie themed podcasts. Too many to listen to with so little time available. I have created a list, in no particular order, of the ones that I listen to on a regular basis. The list is obviously not a best of the net list as I haven’t the time to investigate very far. Most of the podcasts came to my attention through web site recommendations, iTunes reviews and recommendations from other podcasts. All of the mentioned podcasts can be found on iTunes or via the links below.

Film weekly from the Guardian newspaper is hosted weekly from London by the journalist Jason Solomons. In its 45 minute format it generally features a couple of  interviews with a film maker, film star of other significant film name. There is a review section where Jason is joined by another Guardian journalist, usually Xan Brooks, to review the pick of the weeks releases. It is very informative with the obvious enthusiasm Jason has for cinema shines through. Most of the major European film festivals are covered by Jason with insights on the red carpet events and anything of note. Continue reading “Movie Podcasts review part 1: UK podcasts” »

Red Planet

In the next thirty years mankind will face its biggest challenge. Population will spiral out of control, resources will begin to dwindle and pollution will start to kill the Earth. How will we react? In Red Planet the answer will be to look to the skies and plan to colonise Mars. The story opens with theses thoughts. The answer is provided by trying to terraform Mars. Probes have been getting sent to Mars for a number of years. They contain algae that will thrive and produce Oxygen, thus enabling human life to be sustained. All is going well until the O2 levels start to drop unexpectedly.  A team is hastily pulled together and ship is prepared to investigate the issue on Mars. The team is a mixture of scientists and pilots. Unusually there is no overt human military presence in the crew. There is however a military style robot capable of a large variety of operations including combat. All goes well until they reach the planet. Continue reading “Red Planet” »

The Conversation

Moviescramble takes a look at the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola surveillance drama  The Conversation.

Sandwiched in between two classics of modern cinema is not a place that any movie would want to be. Alas that is the place that The Conversation finds itself. Released two years after The Godfather and in the same year as The Godfather part 2, the conversation was understandably not afforded the same attention as its illustrious brothers. This a real pity as The Conversation has stood the test of time and in some circles it has become as regarded as Mr Coppola’s other works.    In some circles this film is more highly regarded. It has certainly stood the test of time critically with an 8.0 rating on IMDB.  Continue reading “The Conversation” »