Category Archives: Films

Film reviews

Skyfall – the new trailer

Bond is back! I got excited just typing that. Skyfall is the latest Daniel Craig outing, and it looks damned awesome. I love a good Bond film and am thoroughly enjoying this new ‘reimagining’ of him as a character.

If you are a regular reader it may not come as a surprise that I enjoy films that are chock full of hot women, exotic travel, gadgets, guns and explosions as these feature highly in my everyday life. Apart from the explosions and guns sadly, as they are frowned upon in ‘politically-correct-gone-mad’ London. I have fired a few guns though – we shot a lot of them at school and a few years ago I fired a huge selection in the jungles of Vietnam (as a tourist, not a ex-vet on a flashback). I also enjoy a fireworks display. Plus, when I was a teenager some mates and I put some cans of deoderant in the school bonfire which then exploded and my Tshirt caught fire. So I’m pretty close to Bond’s lifestyle.

Anyway, enough of my exciting life. Here’s Mr Bond:
http://youtu.be/1G-ZPhcELUk

 

Comedy films become horror

As editing movies becomes easier there are an increasing number of re-cut films, sequences, and trailers out there on the interweb. Generally this is really annoying. You try and find a trailer for a movie or game on youtube and some pointless dink has make a fake one from old film footage. I assume they are spending hours of their time to satisfy a weird fetish of being hated and disliked on the internet. Maybe it’s cool, maybe they are twats. (I’m trying to sound balanced here, but it is totally the latter.)

So it is refreshing when someone does something clever. According to the blurb, a student decided to do a re-cut of Mrs Doubtfire to turn it into a horror flick for a film project. The result is genius and convincing. I don’t know if the student was the first but there are a lot on youtube now for all sorts of movies. If you fancy an utter waste of time enjoying these, you are in for a treat. Just so you know what I am talking about, here is the trailer:
http://youtu.be/U71P5FKFqfg

Going with the comedy to horror theme, here is another good one – Dumb and Dumber:
http://youtu.be/zLDx-BPgxxA

Willy Wonka had some genuinely scary moments anyway but check this out:
http://youtu.be/o9Cby33ZR98

There are others on youtube if you fancy. There are other mix-ups which are mildly funny at first but then peter out: Mary Poppins as a drug dealer, The Shining as a Seinfeld comedy, and so forth. It all depends on how much free time you have I guess. I wish I had more time for my ‘Dancing alien chicks of Star Wars and Star Trek’ video project but lamentably I don’t. Feel free students.
 

Skyfall trailer

Bond! James Bond! The new trailer for the much delayed Skyfall is finally with us. I love Bond films and I think that the new batch are great. This one feels like it will be the final part of the Bond trilogy for some reason, even though it shouldn’t be. Bond is immortal after all, he just changes his looks occasionally. Like a mega violent womanizing Doctor Who without the time travel.

Anyway, enough blather. Here’s the Skyfall trailer:
http://youtu.be/24mTIE4D9JM

Game of Death and myself

I grew up in Hong Kong in the 1970s. It was a glorious time and place for a young lad. Skyscrapers, jungles, beaches, and all the latest gadgets. Also, as you can tell from Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan movies (the old ones), everyone was Kung Fu fighting all the time and had brilliant haircuts. In fact, when I was sent to Britain in the 80s I managed to convince my fellow classmates that in Hong Kong we learnt Kung Fu instead of gym or PE. I was believed for a few months until I got into a fight with an older kid and got my ass kicked. Happy days…

Battle of the Planets

Battle of the Planets

Up until 1978, I thought all Western TV shows and movies were pretty lame. Star Wars changed that a lot, then soon after there was Battlestar Galactica on TV. Until these came along though I was obsessed with cool Oriental fighting stuff. One of these was Battle of the Planets (G Force) – a cartoon set in the future where some orphan kids in weird outfits fought huge metal creatures and armies controlled by what seems to be an evil hermaphrodite. Awesome! My favorite show though was Kamen Rider V3. (It had to be the V3 one.) A guy dressed as a sort of bug man who kicked the crap out of various odd rubbery monsters. It was really gory at times. Here’s the trailer:
http://youtu.be/YuABHZqSYJQ

Pretty cool huh? ‘But why this utterly self centred post about what you watched as a kid?’ I hear you ask. Obviously it will be fascinating for future historians to get a glimpse of the formation of one of the greatest minds of the 21st century, but there is another reason. I have to warn you it is still self obsessed though.

I’m basically establishing character. I was a kid who loved kung fu, gadgets, motorbikes and weird outfits. One of my earliest memories, when I was a mere 7 year old bowl-cutted nipper, was being at the Star Ferry in Hong Kong just after school. A man in a yellow jumpsuit suddenly pulled up on a cool motorbike. He looked like an action hero. I remember being shouted at by a film crew but I wouldn’t go away and they were only able to get a couple of takes as there was a lot of traffic. I never knew what film it was and went on my happy way with my eager young brain filled with action stories and yellow jumpsuits.

I had forgotten about this until a few nights ago when I watchedBruce Lee’s ‘Game of Death’. Imagine my surprise when I saw his character pull up to the Star Ferry in a yellow jumpsuit on the back of a motorbike. Imagine my further surprise when an annoying 7 year old Western kid with a 70s bowl cut wanders up to the bike. The memories flooded back and I felt nostalgic. Hence this post. I apologise but when all is said and done, it’s my website.

I should also point out that most of the movie was filmed after Brucie had died. That’s why there are so many long shots like this one. This scene was filmed in 1978, five years after his death. So the guy in the suit was either zombie Bruce or a double (he had a few for scenes after he died). Obviously a zombie would be ridiculous as they can’t ride motorbikes.

Here is the clip. Skip to about 4:53 and maximize. What a cute kid!
http://youtu.be/CZH6YTnM4AA

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The Hangover 2

The Hangover 2

This film has had a lot of bad press. Mostly because the plot is almost exactly the same as the original. Which is true, but what the fuck were people expecting given the title? The point to be considered is whether it is funny or not. Which it is. If this had come out first then critics would be bitching about the Vegas one.

First off, the plot. As stated, think of the first one and put it in Thailand. Bangkok mostly. I lived in Bangkok for a few years and can confirm that it is an awesomely fun city where it is incredibly easy to get into a serious amount of shit. Which is exactly what happens.

This film is a lot darker from the first one. It is hard to say how without giving away a laugh or two but they get mixed up with the Bangkok underworld and get into some fairly extreme situations. People get shot, lose fingers, and the Chinese guy from the first film is naked again. It is possible that this darker tone might put people off a bit but keep in mind that this is an 18 rated comedy, so again, what the fuck did you expect?

I enjoyed this movie as much as the first one. More in fact as I miss Bangkok and Thailand generally, and can’t wait to live back there. They even visit two of my regular hangouts – the bar scene on Soi Cowboy and a really cool restaurant/bar on top of a building. I might also be biased as I hung out with the line producer, the producer, the special effects guy, and more of the crew when I was last in Bangkok. This was because my brother-in-law is an entertainment lawyer and lives in Bangkok. Which is pretty handy. As a result we went out a few times with these seriously loaded movie types and they like to have fun. Plus they bought me shitloads of beer.

So all that really needs to be said is: if you liked the first one, you will like this. I loved it.

http://youtu.be/P1eFEMNLtao

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Death Race


I had been meaning to watch this for ages. I remember watching the original, set in the far off year of 2000. A more violent age when everyone wore spandex. Sadly the spandex wasn’t true although you do see a lot of lycra around.
So you can imagine my excitement when I arrived for work at the Syfy channel and saw that we were playing it that evening on the Syfy France feed.
Unfortunately, as it was on the French channel all the opening explanation was in French. My French is a bit rusty and the writing went by quite quickly but here is what I managed to translate in my sluggish brain. In the future crime levels increase. Corporations take over the running of prisons and in order to pay for it, they stage Death Races over the web. People pay a subscription to watch criminals race it out in Mad Max style cars that are armed with cool things like machine guns and napalm. They are the new gladiators.
Fortunately I could patch through the English audio tracks so didn’t have to think anymore.
Enter Jason Statham. He is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to the nick. It turns out he was a superb driver and it starts to look like maybe he was framed just to get him in the race. An evil prison governess informs him that there used to be a driver who had won four races and if he had won his fifth he would have been granted his freedom. Unfortunately he died in his fourth race. Luckily, he had been in so many accidents he always wore a mask and no one knew who he was. What he wore in prison before he had his first crash is never really explained, but hey, fuck it, who cares. Statham agrees to pretend to be the guy in the mask, a fellow nicknamed Frankenstein, in order to win his freedom and help boost the ratings of the Death Race. Apparently ratings were dropping off when Frankenstein wasn’t around. Which is odd as people watch Nascar and Formula 1 even though fuck all of interest happens and they aren’t even armed. Not even a pistol.
So Statham enters the race against nine other prisoners and there are lots of cool explosions and prison fights and general violence.
Everything a red blooded male could want really except for a few hot women. Brilliantly, this too has been considered. For each race, the driver gets a navigator who is a smoking hot lady from a nearby woman’s prison. Genius. It actually makes sense in the film’s premise too as it would make the races more popular. So it isn’t just gratuitous eye candy ok? It is like sexy pit-girls in Formula 1 who serve no purpose except being sexy pit-girls.
There are a few other little plot things going on but who cares?
Verdict:
This is a cheesy action flick with fairly stereotyped characters – an evil Russian, a tattoed Latino psychopath, a chinese Triad dude with a degree from MIT, and so forth. The plot is also fairly predictable but actually not too bad for the genre.
It is satisfyingly well acted for a violent action movie and the direction is great (if slightly confusing during some action scenes).
Did I like it?
Fuck yeah! There are a lot of shite action films out there that just leave me cold. Especially once I had passed the age of 16. (Before that, any explosion was cool and Arnie and Sylvester were Gods.) The thing is, it is all tremendous fun and highly enjoyable. Satisfyingly violent with some very cool deaths, the whole thing just works well for what it is. It does what it says on the blood stained, heavily weaponed tin. Enjoy.

 

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The Human Centipede

WARNING! DO NOT READ THIS. THIS IS DISTURBING! IF YOU READ THIS HAVING JUST IGNORED THAT WARNING AND THEN WANT TO COMPLAIN YOU CAN’T, BECAUSE YOU ARE A MORON WHO WAS WARNED.

Until I make my millions, I am forced to work in the TV industry. It was an awesome job at first but now it is growing increasingly tedious. A lot of the trials and stresses come from the material we are forced to watch. I work for the BBC, the Syfy channel, Disney, Discovery, music channels and more. With such a broad scope, the 12 hours of TV I have to watch can be a bit hit and miss.

Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus. Who wouldn't want to see this?

Sometimes it can be a daft but strangely fun film like ‘Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus’, sometimes it can be an awesome documentary about space or war, sometimes it can be Micky Mouse. At one place I am supposed to watch three channels of cartoons and three channels of soft porn. Which slowly but surely breaks your brain.

An example of the trials I stoically endure occurred the other night when I was working at the Syfy Channel. I got in and did all my checks and work and then settled down to watch the movies. The first was ‘Evil Dead’. The legendary Sam Raimi directing the always awesome Bruce Campbell in a low budget horror. With chainsaws and zombies. Absolutely brilliant. Gory, cheesy, B-movie fun.Evil Dead. Sheer genius!

The next film was different. It was called ‘The Human Centipede’. Quite frankly, it was awful and disturbing. I think the most disturbing things are: someone thought it up, then wrote it, then directed it, found actors to be in it, somehow got people to pay for it, and finally managed to get it on the Syfy channel where I had to watch it. The horror.

Here’s the premise. Two young, attractive, fairly stupid American girls are on their way to a club in Germany. Their car breaks down on a remote road. They wisely decide to leave the car and wander aimlessly through the woods at night. They see a house and head toward it. The door is opened by one of the scariest looking Germans you have ever seen. They ask if the insane looking man can phone up a car rescue service and if they can come in. The obvious psychopath asks, ‘Are you alone?’ They wisely inform the nutter that they are alone and lost and tourists and then follow him in.

They then get drugged and wake up in the basement. There’s already a guy there strapped to a bed but the Mengele wannabe decides the guy isn’t right and takes him out and kills him. He then pops out and comes back with a drugged and bound Japanese guy. Which is apparently pretty easy in remote Germany. It is once he has returned that one of the girls tries to escape. In fact, she decides to make a run for it while he is in the room, as opposed to all the opportunities she had before. Brilliantly she manages to get out but then returns to try and get her friend. I tell you this not to ruin the film, which is impossible, but to warn you of the sort of intelligence displayed in the film.

The German mad doctor fellow turns out to be an expert in separating Siamese twins. Unfortunately he is also insane and secretly wants to join people together. By the ass to mouth method. Apparently the film is 100% medically accurate. What they mean is that it is possible to stitch someone’s mouth to someone’s arsehole and make them eat their crap. Which is probably possible. After about an hour of this tedium, the three get turned into – THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE!

The 'science' behind the premise

The 'science' behind the film

If you have read this far, then you have pretty much experienced all the film has to offer. This film is awful. The script is dire but it often is in films like this. It isn’t particularly scary or gory. It isn’t clever or interesting. It really doesn’t seem to have anything going for it apart from the main grossout idea. The ‘Evil Dead’ is gorier and cheesier but it has a certain amount of charm and is well directed and has Bruce Campbell with a chainsaw and an evil hand. Compared to a shock film like the first ‘Saw’ movie ‘The Human Centipede’ just comes across as stupid and pointless. The original ‘Saw’ was a horrible idea, but it was clever and watchable. This just isn’t. I love horror films and thought this was pointless.

If this hasn’t been enough to put you off, here is the trailer. It is probably better than the film and you will get nothing more from the film in the way of shocks or entertainment. I just don’t want you, dear reader, to waste your life watching this. I, at least, get paid.

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Kick-Ass review

Kick-Ass the movie

Yes, this is a review of the film Kick-ass. Although it is, what with this being my writing, an actual ass kicker of a review.

I’d been meaning to watch this film for ages as it poses a question I have often asked myself. ‘Why aren’t there any masked superheroes?’ Surely some martial art obsessed, do-good, eccentric, nutcase would have tried it by now. You read the odd story but nothing I would describe as cool.

The film follows a geeky teen called Dave Lizewski, who tries to answer this question. He gets a green wetsuit and becomes a character known as ‘Kick-Ass’. His first time out he gets the shit kicked out him and is then run over. He keeps plugging away it at and comes to the attention of two successful but unknown masked crime-fighters. Who are hard as hell. They set out to take down a gangster and mete out some righteous justice.

One thing that surprised me in this film was just how violent it was. Which is obviously a happy discovery for someone with a cinematic bloodlust such as myself. Legs get lopped and bullets blast through heads. If you are easily offended and don’t like bad language or blood, I politely suggest you fuck off and watch some other movie. Actually it isn’t that bad at all, I just wanted to swear and use some mild alliteration.

The highlights are Nicholas Cage and his young daughter played by Cloe Moretz – who are Big Daddy and Hit Girl. There’s also good music, a hot chick, lots of humour. And fights. If that doesn’t sound good to you, then you are probably more grown up than me. Check out ‘A Single Man’.

I was genuinely surprised how much I enjoyed this film. It’s funny, violent and enjoys lots of references to geeky things like, predictably, comics.

Imagine a more fun version of Watchmen. Well worth watching.

Here’s the trailer:

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A Single Man review

A Single Man

A guy in the early sixties loses his gay lover in a car crash and gets really depressed. The film follows a day when he has made a decision to shoot himself and he is putting his affairs in order. In case you think that’s a spoiler – the film starts with him remembering the death of his lover, waking up depressed, then getting a gun. It’s pretty clear from the start what’s going on.

People who read this site regularly might be surprised that I might go and see this kind of film. There are no explosions or zombies or anything. But I’m a sensitive arty guy, ok? Look at the books I read (the classic ones). Plus my wife wanted to see it.

Colin Firth plays George. Brilliantly. I can see why so many are lauding him for his performance. At first he seems a bit anally retentive with perfectly folded suits and crisp sealed shirts for each day. His house is pristine and he seems respected at work. His one friend is Julianne Moore who plays a drunk, bored, divorcee. Also very well.

As the film progresses we see his character develop and become more real and believable. He has flaws and a personality that seems to get stronger and more likeable as things progress. From a stuffy professor he transforms into an interesting likeable guy and you find yourself growing increasingly sad as the story progresses. It is a well written story (a bit slow at times but not often), with superb acting and amazing visual direction.

It is this ‘amazing visual direction’ that ironically brings the film down slightly. It is too visually arresting. Too arty. It feels a bit like watching a perfume advertisement or a talented student video artist’s end of year work. I’m making it sound worse than it is but after a while it did feel a bit over the top. I was aware that the director Tom Ford was showing that George was admiring beauty and the details of life on his final day but there were too many shots of women’s eyes, or men’s chests, or close-ups of roses.

I should stress that it doesn’t mar the film too much and not everyone will feel the same way. Apparently Ford is a fashion designer, so I should have allowed for a bit of aesthetic pretension. Even if it felt slightly too much, that obviously implies that the majority of the film is nice to look at. And it is. Watch the trailer below and you’ll see what I mean (especially the close-ups).

This is a good film – there is no denying that. I won’t be rushing out and buying the blu-ray but if you like a character driven, superbly acted and well directed movie, it is worth checking out.

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Avatar

avatar_postersEvery review and pre-release bit of advertising for this film promised a spectacle. Avatar did not disappoint. Especially in 3d.

First, the story:

Jake Sully is a marine in a wheelchair. His brother is killed and Jake gets the chance to take his place in a program where his brain can control an avatar. The film begins with his arrival at the unbelievably lush green and generally wonderful-looking planet Pandora and he is shown how to control the avatar. He obviously enjoys being an avatar as he can run around and do athletic stuff. Eventually he infiltrates the local population who are called the Na’vi. They are tall, blue, hard to kill and strangely attractive.

As he bonds with the Na’vi in his avatar body, he is also learning about a plot by the evil humans when he wakes up to his human existence. The majority of the humans are evil scumbags – half are working for the greedy ‘Company’, who want to exploit all the natural resources, and the other half are violent gung-ho kill-em-all booyah marine types with sensible haircuts and mega-cool weapons.

How could he not like this lady?

How could he not like this lady?

Eventually Jake falls in love with Neytiri, a native lass.  Who can blame him? She stunning and limber and wears practically nothing. He also realises that all the humans – bar Sigourney  Weaver, a couple of scientists, and a feisty hot pilot (Michelle Rodriguez) – are so awful they are almost stereotypes. He sides with the Na’vi and there is a brilliant war.

I didn’t really need to tell you the plot as you can probably work out everything that is going to happen from the trailer.

Most critics have loved this film for its sheer spectacle and wow-factor. They are correct. They have also occasionally criticized it for having a weak plot. I think people are missing the point here. The film is amazing to look at, has no boring bits, and a story and characters that I liked enough for me not to feel it detracted from the film in any way. I found myself empathizing with the Na’vi and hating the humans. Especially at certain destructive parts. I got involved with the people and the story.

Evil warlike humans. With cool stuff.

Evil warlike humans. With cool stuff.

I think critics and certain insecure cinema snobs should realise that people go to see certain films for different reasons. If you want to taut gripping plot that twists and turns – see a thriller. If you want heart-wrenching drama, watch a harrowing film about the holocaust or a chick-flick where someone dies really slowly for half of the movie. If you want shallow meaningless action with no story and crap characters – Michael Bay will sort you out. If you want action that is well directed, has good likeable characters, flawless sequences and moments that remind you why you like the cinema – then James Cameron is the man. (and Peter Jackson.)

2 main blue

The world of Pandora is staggeringly beautiful and believable. The 3d technology invented for this film really adds to that. The kit that the humans use is huge and impressive. The creatures that the Na’vi ride around on are similarly awe inspiring. The battles are incredible.

I like all sorts of films. Even romantic comedies. To put this film in a category is fairly easy. It is one of those films that made me happy to be in a cinema. You are drawn into a world and see a spectacle that you haven’t seen before. When the 3d kicks in and the film begins I felt like I had done on very few occasions – the original Star Wars (when I was about 6), Aliens, the Matrix, and Lord of the Rings are a few. Watch the trailer, see if you like it, and expect more of that.

In summary – I fucking loved it and haven’t seen anything like it in years. If you have any imagination or sense of wonder you will probably like it too. If not, stick to your soaps and celebrity mags.

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District 9

D9istrict_9_movie_poster14First off, the plot. In 1982 a spaceship arrives and stops overJohannesburg. There is some shaky footage of a command pod detatching and crashing to earth but it is never found. It turns out the ship is full of insect-like aliens who are refugees. They get transported to ‘District 9’ – an area that soon becomes a shithole of a slum like lots of the others that were in Jo’burg during Apartheid. They are nicknamed ‘prawns’ and treated like crap.

Wikus gives eviction notice to aliens

Wikus gives eviction notice to aliens

Cut to the present (well next year actually, but that’s immaterial,) and due to lots of local pressure the millions of aliens have to be moved to a new district outside town. The whole thing is controlled by a group called Multi-national United (MNU), and the fellow placed in charge of the move is a very likeable man called Wikus van der Merwe. While Wikus is giving the eviction notices and searching the slum, he gets some stuff sprayed on his face that makes him ill. Later, at hospital he finds out that he’s mutating into an alien. The plus side of this is that he is now the first human who can use alien weaponry. This doesn’t turn out to be a huge plus for him as the MNU now want to dissect him. He escapes and mayhem ensues with cool guns.

There is obviously a lot more going on but I will give away too much of the plot. What I have mentioned here can be pretty much gleaned from the trailer.

The movie is presented as a sort of documentary with news footage, CCTV footage, and hand-held camera stuff. This gives an air of reality to some pretty unreal goings on. It could so easily have gone wrong or been dull like the Blair Witch Project but it doesn’t. It works superbly.

Wikus with a big alien gun

Wikus with a big alien gun

The two principal reasons for this are the director Neill Blomkamp, and Sharlto Copley who plays Wikus. Both are brilliant. The direction never falters and keeps the action exciting and pace focused. Producer Peter Jackson has picked his protege well. Copley plays the role of Wikus – from likeable bureaucrat to panicked human to determined fighter – with skill. Occasionally events conspire in the film business and relative unknowns can create a unique, enthralling, and brilliantly watchable film. This has certainly been the case here.

district-9 spaceship

In case you can’t tell, I loved this movie. It was refreshing to see something new and exciting in the cinema. There have been some accusations of racism and a fair amount of controversy surrounding the movie but they are all by the usual touchy people saying the standard predictable things. If anything, the main bias is against humans as a whole. We suck.

If you like movies, action, direction, or anything to do with the cinema – go and see this. On top of all the above the alien weapons are really, really cool and brutal. Something for everyone.

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