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Bridge of Spies

The Cold War lasted decades.  An endless cause of suspicion between America and Russia led to some very tense moments.  The 1950’s and ‘60’s perhaps was its apex with spy agencies from both sides working over-time.  Novelists and film-makers had a field day as the countless books and movies attest.  ‘Bridge of Spies’ effectively re-mines this potential.  Whilst the Cold War is officially yesterday’s news, it hasn’t stopped the shady world of spies and movie-making from cashing in.

 

When a Russian spy is caught on U.S. soil, the government puts him on trial.  Hired to defend him is Jim Donovan (Tom Hanks).  Knowing authorities want to see an enemy spy convicted, Donovan attempts to present a fair case.  Learning Russia has captured an American pilot, Donovan tries to convince his superiors to use the Russian spy as a bargaining chip.  The following chain of events test Donovan’s mettle as the stakes reach a crescendo of dramatic proportions.

 

‘Bridge of Spies’ is an agreeably old fashioned work from director Steven Spielberg.  That isn’t a slight despite its somewhat slow pace and occasional slice of typical Spielberg sentimentality. Unlike many recent productions, ‘Bridge of Spies’ takes its time to introduce its players in an often stressful game.  From Donovan to the highest political commander, everyone is playing a role in brinkmanship.  ‘Bridge of Spies’ effectively shows the constant machinations involved in order for each country to be seen as superior.

 

Donovan’s stoic determination to right wrongs is well conveyed by Hanks.  He plays the ‘everyman’ role so well and it’s easy feeling his character’s frustrations at the endless barriers he faces.  ‘Bridge of Spies’ rests squarely on his shoulders with his co-stars not particularly registering on the memory.  The often engrossing story and excellent cinematography make up for this as each scene is lovingly rendered under Spielberg’s steady guidance.

 

‘Bridge of Spies’ is a decent effort from Spielberg.  Whilst it isn’t one of his greatest, it tells a stirring tale of courage.  The Cold War may be history but similar wars remain with this history lesson offering some inspiration in gaining peaceful outcomes.

 

Rating out of 10:  7

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ is the sixth and supposedly final instalment of the franchise.  Horror fans have heard this before with the ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchises continuing after their alleged ‘final’ outings.  The end can’t come soon enough for the ‘Paranormal Activity’ series with its lazy shaky-cam horrors inexplicably raking in dollars.  Its promise of being the ‘last hurrah’ is one that it will be held to with its mediocre scares something true horror fans never want to see again.


Moving into their new home, Ryan (Chris J. Murray), wife Emily (Brit Shaw) and daughter settle in.  Their fresh start quickly goes awry when Ryan discovers some old videotapes.  Watching images of young girls being taught black magic, Ryan is disturbed by what he sees.  His fears become magnified when his daughter Leila (Ivy George) becomes trapped by evil supernatural forces.  Determined to protect his family, Ryan goes to great lengths to eradicate his home of evil once and for all.


Although better than its predecessors due to a more involving story, ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ is still a depressingly lazy affair.  Using shaky-cam and endless screaming, it seems to think this amounts to genuine terror.  Sadly the only terror in evidence is from viewers realising they’ve paid to see this.  Using the same story template as the others, it fails to add much new.  The few fresh elements detailing how the series’ villains have evolved are interesting but there aren’t enough of them.


Director Gregory Plotkin oversees the production with little enthusiasm.  He doesn’t elicit much atmosphere which isn’t helped by the mediocre performances.  There’s no flair or imagination gone into creating something scary with the film almost wearing its cheapness as a badge of honour.  It’s tragic these types of films have become so successful, leading others to craft works with very little effort.  ‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ suffers from slow pacing and tawdry CGI – none of which is helped by the poorly handled 3-D effects.


‘Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension’ is as clumsily filmed as the others with its aims at being a memorable horror franchise laughable.  A threat of another instalment would be the only true scare it could provide with audiences hopefully avoiding this one in droves.


Rating out of 10:  2