Sunday, 30 November 2008

...and the writing continues!

Yepperooni, the script writing is coming along nicely. It's been a week now (typing away in spare time amidst other things to do) and I'm approaching the 30 page mark very, very soon.

It's going well, I'm just writing the ideal zombie movie in my mind, tapping away on the keys what I see in my head and getting it onto the page. There's a lot of description abound, so many of the pages are quite heavy at the moment, there's a lot of visual information to be laced in. It's important to convey as much of that information as possible, I'm even loosely editing how it would look if it was on screen, creating a loose rhythm to certain scenes or moments to help further illustrate what I have in mind.

I'm rather chuffed with it so far, and just as a zombie fan myself, I'm chuffed with some of the stuff I'm writing in - I'm getting to 'see' things I haven't seen yet on screen, and I'm getting to 'see' crowd-pleasing zombies (and zombie kills), I'm 'seeing' a world which hasn't been explored before (or far from properly anyway) in the zombie genre.

Yes, it's going well, even though I've still not got fully into the groove - such as operating Final Draft (still getting used to which keys to press at what point, and getting a real fast flow going on - it's been a while since I was last writing anything you see).

Currently one of eight segments (I did a basic brainstorm of the entire script as part of my copious planning and mapping out) is done, and the second of eight (which will constitute the first act) is about half way done.

I'm writing it long at the moment, partly due to additional information that the reader will need to know to understand what's going on, but mainly due to the sheer amount of visuals I have in mind - and the detail of said visuals. What I'm seeing in my head is mostly quite clear ... so yeah, once that second-of-eight segments is done, I'll pause - go back to the start - and sweep through that first draft of the first act and tidy it up - tighten things, add things, remove unnecessary things, clarify things, and give it a general tidy up.

This is what I did when writing "Generation Procrastination" a while back (in fact that was about a year ago now), and by the end of it what I had was a first draft that was in fact a second draft, ha! Plus it really does help to clarify things in your own head, and you get to catch up on what has come before in a far more condensed space of time - say over a day, rather than possibly two or more weeks (depending on available time, writer's block etc) that it took to originally hammer the keys in the first place.

One thing I will say, the current segment I'm on involves a lot of characters, and I'm having to learn fast about how to deal with so many characters at once - as well as realising that there's only so much you can do too - I even came momentarily a-cropper when I realised my detailed notes for the segment (all segments are fully laid out in note form) didn't include character names (e.g. "one vehicles goes here, the other stays there") - I had to figure out who was where and who dies when, etching in their names at every instance throughout my notes - but the momentary crisis was averted and the segment made a lot more sense to me.

Mind you, on the soon-to-come sweep through, I'll be looking to add a lot more dialogue and get the myriad of characters involved a lot more - even something as simple as finding an opportunity for the characters to use each other's names at least a couple of times (so a potential viewer of the potential film would know who is who by name), is in itself a task.

But aye - it's going well, I'm seriously digging the script when I step back and fully engage 'zombie nerd mode', factor 9, full speed ahead with The Gonk as the anthem in the background.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Finally! Writing begins...

Well, last night I finally started work on my latest script - a feature length zombie epic based on a short script I wrote called "The End". I'd previously sent that short script to Gary Ugarek (the dude behind Deadlands) and he rather liked it and said I should expand it into a feature length script.

As soon as he said "you should...", I knew I'd end up doing it sooner or later. This is exactly how VHS: Long Play came about, when a fellow member of Homepage of the Dead said he'd love to see a sequel to VHS and that I should do one. That got my brain started immediately and within hours I'd thrashed out an idea for it, and a few months later I'd actually gotten around to filming it.

Obviously, this new script - this feature length zombie epic - is way beyond my own means. The purpose of writing this script would be to get it seen by people far higher up the ladder, so-to-speak. The idea is to try and come up with new areas not explored by the zombie genre, or areas that have been glimpsed at, but not expanded upon. I want to answer the little questions that fans such as myself came up with in reaction to Land of the Dead (a film that I loved by the way), and finally to really come up with some memorable and even downright fucked up moments, with a sprinkling of action throughout.

Prior to starting this script however, was a month of desperate malaise - I'd started the Final Draft file, gotten the text and font and so on set up how I like - and before that was a period of brain storming and sequence & segment mapping out. Essentially the script is written ... in a brief form at least ... all I have to do is fill in the blanks, glue the parts together, and generally polish the whole thing.

So I got it going last night, a month after I'd started the Final Draft file, and managed to squeeze out three pages. Now yes, that's not a lot, but it's something. Besides, starting a new script - just like starting a new essay when I was at university, or throughout school - is always slow at the beginning.

You're trying to get into the mode of thinking (I had to fish out an old script to familiarise myself with the layout again, not to mention remembering how to use the software itself), and you're also trying to get into the script itself - the surrounding story, and the plot within the confines of the first and last pages. You've got to get your head into the characters, you've got to get the projector in your head rolling so that you can see clearly what you want so that you can write it down - this is what I do when writing. I watch the film in my head, then write down what I see.

Also, there's the issue of getting my head back into my notes and scene/segment layouts I'd written a few months ago. I've got to find all those little nuances, those little ideas I want to sprinkle throughout and figure out all over again where and when I want them - like last night, I was writing the beginning of the opening segment, but forgot I was meaning to include a radio broadcast throughout the first interaction between two characters, so I had to head back and lace that in between what I'd written.

It feels really good though, to get this script going, and like I said before, even though I only did three pages last night, I actually got the thing started. I overcame my crushing malaise, double clicked that FD icon, and started hammering the keyboard. Hopefully I can continue with the script from now on with as little hindrance as possible.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Siege...

I've had this in my collection for donkey's years, and I've never watched it. Insanely belatedly I got to it ... decent enough, wasn't balled over, not overly fussed. Perhaps it's just odd watching it in a 'post 9/11' world, if I dare be so brand-named about our current climate, especially as the flick is set in New York.

At times it does feel like it descends into 'lefty preaching' while making a valid point. It's insanely difficult to make a serious political picture, especially when you're within the time of Islamic Terrorism (although the terrorists are hardly Islamic ... they're simply terrorists).

It's just like the slew of Iraq-related political dramas that are over-run with Hollywood afford-to-be-liberals, it just feels forced and finger-waggy. It feels smug, it feels too soon, it feels like concluding the unconcluded.

I certainly hope we don't have yet another stupidly premature 'pull out at 98% complete' on our hands, if you start something, you should be up for finishing it (not thinking it'll be done in a month and then party time, which is just a retarded way of thinking and strategising, considering the enemy and style of warfare). Charlie Wilson's War, which focussed on Afghanistan during the late 80s, made a deft point of showing that the government couldn't be arsed to go that last mile, after blasting their way through the previous blood-soaked slog.

This of course brings me onto the bleeding heart, lefty chattering class that spread themselves amongst the news media (both printed and televised), pondering over anything and everything from an afford-to-be-liberal stance. You get the impression they'd think otherwise (at least some of them), if they were a struggling plumber with a wife and three kids, for example.

Don't mistake me for a Fox News loving righty either, my politics lie in the common sense middle ground (but far from the absolute shit of the current Labour government who've royally shafted the UK for 11 and a half years now, and have introduced legislation/proposals that are far, far more right-winged than the UK's 'right of centre' Conservative Party would ever dare - ID Cards, communications databases, the new preposterously ill-thought-out laws dealing with prostitution, the ghastly mis-use of the terrorism legislation and so-on ... I could go on, but I'd just piss myself right off).

Needless to say, I'm not a fan of Brown & Co.

Rolling back from my tangent, and returning to The Siege - meh, I guess.

The Cottage...

I'd waited on this one a bit, I almost saw it in the cinema (it vanished before we had a chance), and I almost bought it on DVD when it first came out, but I bought something else instead. Saw it for six quid though, and figured why not? Nabbed it, watched it, rather enjoyed it. It's not Shaun of the Dead (in terms of British horror humour), and perhaps the segway from kidnap caper into horror caper could have been handled better), but it was a decent effort with plenty of decent fun to be had.

I'd have liked the horror aspect to have been darker, scarier, far grimmer than what we got - but there was certainly a satisfactory air of 'Ed Gein's farmhouse of horrors' about the final stretch.

I've not seen London To Brighton, well I've seen bits of it, so I can't really compare The Cottage to that...what I can do is compare it to Severance, another low budget Brit 'horror in the country' outing. It's not fantastic, but it's far from shit ... aye, I'll leave it at that.

Hellboy 2...

I was never a fan of the first Hellboy, which I found merely "alright", indeed I could use the word "meh" (now officially in the dictionary). Again, with this sequel I was thoroughly "meh" throughout. I turned down the opportunity of peeping it out at an early screening with a friend of mine (whose blog, the McLegs Mainframe, is over there on the right somewhere). Now he actually digs Hellboy, but he only gave it an average score ... but then again, he dissed The Dark Knight a bit too...deary me.

Now, TDK - my top film of 2008 - was absolutely ball-bustingly awesome in my view. Hellboy 2 ... couldn't give a stuff in the end. It is certainly the work of Del Toro, but I'm just not all that bothered about weird and wonderful monsters flapping around on screen, nor schmaltzy love themes thrown about within said framework.

Right on to those who love it, fair play to them, but it's not for me. I'll be over here awaiting my double-disc doovde of The Dark Knight thank you very much.

The Strangers...

Took me a while to get around to this one, but I finally got around to it. In a world of ever-increasing splatter dished out by an impossibly-forward/backward/upside-down-thinking cancerous engineer (Saw 4 was almost entirely crap, and Saw 5 is no doubt of a similar pong), it's a pleasant surprise to find that the old art of suspense remains out there somewhere.

Admittedly there occasionally is a reliance on 'shock bangs', which are an incredibly cheap way to scare your audience (the cinema equivalent of your mate yelping "BOO!" at you from behind the sofa). However, there is also that slow, creeping sense of dread (kind of like living under a Labour government) that isn't used nearly as much in the mainstream as I'd like.

The flick isn't quick to please, it crawls along at it's own pace thank you very much, and quite masterfully cranks up the tension and worry of that which is not understood - namely, what the fuck are these masked nutters here for? "Because you were home", as the trailer chillingly mutters.

This sense of dread aside, the film does begin to crawl too much once it's gotten going. Do these masked freaks do much else but disappear from sight and creep around houses? A dash more propulsion in the second act could have helped solve this droop. Strange really, the film is a mix of two types of slow pacing - the good, and the bad.

I can't see this going down well with the moronic, gore-hungry-and-nothing-else-will-do folks who consider SAW 4 to be a superb slice of terror, but for those who like their horror genre varied, there'll be some meat to chew on here.

Zack And Miri Make A Porno...

As a big Kevin Smith fan, I was eager to see his latest - consider it moving away from the Askewniverse, take two. After the (actually not bad) Jersey Girl, he returned with the superb Clerks 2, which served as a true way to round the Askewniverse off (although, if a Clerks 3 was do-able, I'd definitely watch it).

Now it's time to move away from that universe again, although the vibe is still very much present and correct - providing a much smoother, gentler transition away from Smith's tried & true universe. Mewes is back and not playing Jay (leaving nothing to our imagination), Anderson is back and not playing Randal, and Jen (Smith's missus) is back for another cameo/bit part (although I found her appearance in Z&M a bit of a pill to swallow considering she's surely a few years senior to Z&M's graduating year).

A guffaw machine throughout the first half, the gags start to spread out a little in the final stretches when the story takes centre stage - which happens a lot in similar comedies, it has to be said. The final act especially, could have used a few more chuckles and could have done with having a few of the loose ends tied up.

Plot wise, there's certainly a rom-com lying in wait somewhere amidst the dick, fart, poop, fanny and vibrator jokes ... yes, you could say it's a bit on the schmaltzy side, a smidge on the obvious side, but at the same time - it works. You like these characters, you enjoy spending time with them, they amuse you, they're sweet and kind natured souls who are probably not that unlike those viewing the flick itself.

It doesn't quite have the full polish that Clerks 2 does, but then again - Clerks 2 was following Jersey Girl (which I liked, but don't consider a huge triumph by any means - it was a simple and sweet romcom ultimately, with a dash of new-fatherhood wisdom). Zack & Miri follows the 8-minute-standing-ovation-receiving Clerks 2.

Thoroughly enjoyable throughout, and one for the Dawn of the Dead uber-fans like myself. Not only do we get the well-known Monroeville Mall (Mecca of the zed-head), but we get cameos from Tom Savini and David Early.

Yes please and then some for the sure-to-be-great DVD, complete with highly anticipated Chop Shop Entertainment making of.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Well that was a productive day...

Every now and then I have these moments of 'let's get some shit done', and today was one of those days.

I'm rather lazy when it comes to getting a haircut, so I only go twice a year. I walk in with my hair all shaggy and looking naff (the bad side of long, as opposed to the cool side of long) and then walk out with it all shaved down with a razor cut. Today was no exception, aside from the fact I was lucky enough to walk in, sit down immediately, and be walking out within 15 minutes.

Then, straight down to Kodak for a set of passport photos (which I've been busy not getting for months now), had those taken within 2 minutes. Then, dart over to the bank, deposit a cheque and then zoom off to get some new threads - two pairs of jeans, a t-shirt, and a zip-up-hoody, and this of course officially pointed out that I had dropped a jeans size (I was daft and just indulged during my time at university), so hazah!

Nip back to Kodak, pick up my photos and back to the car - time elapsed - one hour.

Oh yes, I like to get shit done ... after I've procrastinated for ages that is ... I don't procrastinate over everything of course - such as, if it's work related, I get it done. When it comes to filmmaking then I get it done ... script writing on the other hand, that's a mixed bag, for instance I'm currently wading through a bout of malaise about double clicking that Final Draft icon and the remainder of the work to be done on Sexual Ethics Vol. 1, so there we are.

Anyway, after all that, I check out the new South Park, get a chunk of editing done, finish reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, then watch Taken - and to cap it all off - had a bacon butty for dinner.

Taken...and the oldest profession...

I'd seen the trailer for this numerous times in the cinema recently, and I figured - might as well. Didn't know it had anything to do with Luc Besson, the trailer made it look like a guy who so wasn't the bad guy appear to be the bad guy, and it had a line in it that my mates and I ended up finding strangely funny. When he says "they're going to take you", we just found it rather amusing, I'm not sure why, but we did.

Anyway, checked it out, and while nothing amazing, it's an effective thriller - the best part though, is Liam Neeson kicking arse, taking names and generally being awesome throughout. The dude gets shit done, and he's forever got a trick up his sleeve.

In typical Luc Besson related style, there's plenty of improvisational shit-kicking to be had (as in, use your surroundings to extract seven shades from each and every baddie - in this case - Albanian traffickers).

It's interesting actually, in the last couple of days the government has revealed that it's estimates for the volume of human trafficking going on in the UK were actually way higher than the reality. It's even being suggested (by commentators) that the figures could very well have been inflated to back up government ideas to ban prostitution out-right ... this of course all reflects on Taken, which has female trafficking at the heart of the plot.

Needless to say, such activity is sick and wholly wrong - but if the government do want to see the trafficking figures they were suggesting, then by all means ban prostitution out right, because that's what will happen. Unfortunately, 'the oldest profession' will continue to happen, so why not legalise it, tax it, and most importantly - provide a safe environment for all involved, an environment that would help keep drugs, disease and pimps out of it.

That all said mind you, the idea of prostitution just gives me the shudders personally. I've been working on an educational DVD for the last few months, on the topic of Sexual Ethics. As part of that we are using stock footage of the clubs and bars of Thailand where horny Europeans go for something on the sleazy side. Ultimately, such imagery (which isn't even graphic - far from it) just depresses me, and indeed, it was a bit "blimey"-inducing to see shots of a business dealing specifically in European girls (as opposed to the local Asian populace).

In the end though, I have to return to my default position - "is it consensual?" - if so, I've no problem generally speaking, because it's not for me to impose my will on others in such topics - and indeed, in all socio-political topics, and I believe that others should follow that guideline. Legalising the oldest profession would certainly help clean up the game itself, and hopefully bring true consent to the heart of the business ... in the mean time, I'll be hanging out over here chilling with some videogames.

Swinging right back to the topic of Taken however, can you do without seeing Liam Neeson kick plentiful arse? Quite frankly, the answer to that question should be a firm no, no you can't do without seeing Liam Neeson pummel seven bells out of grubby traffickers.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

All The President's Men...(and a political rant)

For a while now I've been wondering - what exactly was the Watergate scandal? I've heard and seen numerous mentions of it and references to it across a variety of movies and television, but it's always been in the context of assuming the audience knows what it's all about. Of course, they're American shows and movies, and being that it was an American scandal, they're probably not that bothered about educating foreigners who are not in the know (be it fully or totally).

The straw that broke the Camel's back so-to-speak, was finally getting around to watching Oliver Stone's Nixon - which of course partly involves the whole Watergate thing, but even here I wasn't fully clued in.

Then - All The President's Men - I'd seen snippets of it on Sky Movies and figured it'd be my kind of flick, I don't half dig a bit of 1970s 'New Hollywood' era cinema. I just love the vibe of it, the look of it, the acting talent, the sense that these films struck out from the status quo and signalled a significant shift in cinema.

What it's all about, is indeed, the whole Watergate scandal - so finally I got off my arse and nabbed the 2-disc DVD for a fiver and set about indulging myself in a bit of the aforementioned New Hollywood vibe. At last, I got the bottom line on what Watergate was all about.

Watergate, home to the Democratic Party offices, was broken into by five guys working secretly on behalf of the Republican Party (who were in power at the time, and looking for dirt on their opponents to secure a second term for Nixon - which happened due to government stalling, but of course led to Nixon's impeachment). A 'slush fund' set-up for shady dealings, such as the Constitution-shafting bugging and snooping around being conducted, paid for this - and that's the career-making story that Woodward and Bernstein (Redford and Hoffman in the film) found themselves caught up in ... at least that's what it is unless I'm mistaken somehow, ha!

Also, I finally got to see where all this 'Deep Throat' business came from (which of course was all referenced in the first season of The X-Files, and indeed that vibe continued throughout the show's run) - here he's played by Hal Holbrook, whom I know from George A. Romero's Creepshow (currently being absolutely name-raped by Taurus), so that was pretty cool as I haven't seen many Holbrook flicks.

Continuing on from my love of the New Hollywood cinema, a love that fed into the absolutely superb Zodiac by David Fincher (which appears to reference ATPM via the San Francisco Chronicle), it was such a pleasure to see pure, old school journalism on show.

If I could time-travel, it'd be neat to visit that vibe - but I'd not want to stay, I couldn't do without broadband and all the other technological (de)vices I crave. No mobile phones, simply wired rotary jobbies, phone booths, paper records in the library, the office full of bright 70s desks adorned with type writers (a device I've only ever briefly played with in my youth) ... like I said, New Hollywood cinema, I dig it.

It also got me thinking about the current state of journalism, an issue discussed in the extras, and indeed it's certainly not the same as it used to be. Now we have corporate news not wanting to piss anybody off, not looking to put out the dangerous story (and sometimes when they do, they've blatantly fucked up in epic style - Piers Morgan knows a thing or two about that). This is an era of 24/7 news, an ever-rolling repeat of the same old shit over-and-over four times an hour, the very same shit all the other news networks are reporting at exactly the same time.

This of course was another thread of discussion in the extra features on the DVD - the political leanings of the news networks (in America it is seemingly either rabidly left, or rabidly right), a bunch of preening celebrities reading news that scrolls mindlessly infront of their eyes - these are not journalists, not proper journalists anyway.

The 'blogosphere' may not be the perfect thing, but at least it affords the everyday person with an opportunity to speak at length, to air their frustration and anger at a system that refuses to listen, a system that refuses to report fairly...it truly does depress me to great lengths.

Returning to ATPM, Bernstein was a Democrat and Woodward was a Republican, and both respected the system to use it, and fight for it and to help maintain proper practice within the government. Damn straight, we could do with more of that passion and political fairness today.

Hooray indeed for All The President's Men, a superb political drama, a superb journalism story, a superb slice of New Hollywood ballsy grit ... go on, once more - superb.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Deadlands 2: Trapped...

Well here we are, after the rather bloody successful Deadlands: The Rising (a true case of indie spirit - a bunch of mates get together, learn as they go, and put out a cheap-but-full-of-scope slice of zombie mayhem). So great stuff indeed ... even if the zeds do run (I'm firmly in the 'shambler camp' - that said however, Deadlands and recently Dead Set are my exceptions).

I remember describing the original Deadlands, at one point, as a "technical lava lamp" ... I think what I was meaning by that (whilst also day-dreaming of pulling out my own lava lamp from the cupboard), is that Deadlands was a melting pot of attention-grabbing, learn-as-you-go, full-on indie spirit.

Deadlands 2: Trapped is similar in its success - only this time everything is ratcheted up several notches, displaying in abundance Writer/Director (and a few other titles) Gary Ugarek's dedication to improving on his craft as a filmmaker. Not to say Deadlands: The Rising was bad (I've been a staunch pro-ponent of the flick), but Deadlands 2 is leaps and bounds beyond it.

The cinematography and editing are two distinctly immediate slabs of improvement served up to your eyes. The pace is tight throughout, the coverage is more organised, and the camerawork itself - again, nothing but improvement. At times, the 24-like quiver amplifies the power of the more violent scenes, helping to sell a genuine sense of "oh fuck!" when the zeds storm a military checkpoint for example, or capturing a war of words among our cinema-dwelling protagonists.

Plot wise, it goes like this - some rather unsavory government types are up to no good with a secret biological test, which as any good zombie flick hound knows doesn't go too well ... or does it? Caught in the middle however, are your average and everyday middle-Americans either working the register at the Hagerstown 10 cinema, or out for a night of bar-hopping.

The characters are fleshed out fully in the first act, and are performed well - especially for an indie production. Obviously, you're not going to find Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino burning up the screen over a cup of coffee, but anyone expecting such things from the indie scene simply don't understand the scene. That said, even the non-professional turns dotted here and there stand up against other similarly grounded flicks - but its the central performances that shine. Jim "helicopter zombie" Krut brings the suit-and-tie-menace in gleeful abundance as the diabolical biological project leader, and Durbin, Davidson, Clark, Young and Brush all push their respective boats out.

Excuse my inability with connecting names to faces, but 'dude with the cap' and 'chick with all the ear-rings' were absolutely superb, they grasped the intensity of the situation at hand, the over all "we're fucked" nature of proceedings and delivered performances that punch above the usual indie belt. I'll be honest, I got a few chills up and down my spine during the more explosive scenes.

One of the things that most excites me about Deadlands (the original, and now this sequel), is that sensation of people at the start of their careers (be it in front of, or behind the cameras). This is certainly no truer than the case of the young lads behind Spaghetti Industries - these guys serve up some fantastic, blood-soaked moments of gore.

Finally - scale - there's a boat-load of the stuff, and considering the budget (even lower than Deadlands, which wasn't exactly surfing on the budget of Heaven's Gate) it's incredible to see so much on offer, again leading Deadlands 2: Trapped to punch above the usual indie belt - especially on such a small budget (just to hammer the point home).

Any bad? To be honest there's not much point focussing on any minor, fleeting issues all that much. The political stance of the film (during certain scenes) occasionally strays into blunt-force territory, some dialogue doesn't quite roll off the tongue, and (as a filmmaker myself, at the relative start of my career admittedly) I noticed a few editing issues here and there that I would have tweaked or perhaps done slightly different - but that last point shouldn't bother the vast majority, that's just the filmmaker inside me talking.

What's that pedantic filmmaker amidst my juicy viscera saying? The odd audio issue (e.g. quiet car journeys, the occasional scream bursting forth a bit too loudly, the odd moments of the audio mix being a bit out-of-synch or levelled inconsistently) - the occasional edit issue (e.g. the odd shot appearing grey in comparison to the gloriously deep blacks throughout, and the final moment - which I'd have edited slightly differently...but then again, Gary isn't me and I'm not Gary, so that's purely personal editing choices & styles).

But as previously stated, said issues are piffling in the face of a properly successful, and properly indie-spirited venture - roll on Deadlands 3!

8/10

Madagascar...

I'd never seen this before, and I most certainly partake in CGI family fare from time-to-time (WALL.E was my #2 flick of 2008), so I figured I'll have a gander. Entertaining throughout, loads of movie references that kids would never get, but adults would - and superb little-seen side characters in the shape of two literate chimps and a quartet of Capone-like penguins.

I mean who doesn't want some of that? What else would you not want to do without? A colony of Lemurs lorded over by the most self-aggrandising King of the Lemurs ever? Seriously, what's not to like? Bounds along at a hell of a lick, the plot never putters out and it's got enough balls to have a crocodile (or was it an alligator?) snap up an intensely cute duckling!

Not just cheap CGI kiddy schmaltz, but rather an actually well written, witty and frequently guffaw-inducing slice of family entertainment that adults should feel free to enjoy on their own. As a kid I've craftily sneak a look at horror movies, now as an adult I indulge in animated flicks about loveable robots or talking zoo animals ... but I can't go for too long without seeing some blood getting gushed across the screen, muah-ha!

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Hancock...

I finally got around to seeing this, and all I can say is "meh". I wasn't expecting a lot already, but thought it might be enjoyable enough fair after reading what Total Film had to say about it ... I did get some moments of entertainment from it, but over all I really can't remember too much about it, or nothing really properly worth remembering anyway.

I guess I would have much preferred to see the original R-rated version those behind it had in mind, I think that could have really provided something fresh and different to the super hero action sub-genre. Instead, we get quite safe fair (I wouldn't say having him mutter "fuck" once, shove a head in an ass and be a bit hung over at the start - before a swift-to-come clean-up as daring territory).

As for the twist - it's pretty obviousy pretty damn soon, and I wasn't exactly fussed...then again I wasn't fussed about the whole movie. Worth a watch, but I could easily not watch it again.

Now if you don't mind, I fancy watching the "Last Day" trailer for Gears of War 2 yet again - now that shit is top notch!

The Lone Gunmen...

As I've mentioned before, I've recently had an absolute X-Files marathon (it essentially replaced the vast majority of my TV and film viewing for more than two months), so as part of said marathon it was my aim to get my mits on The Lone Gunmen spin-off, which I'd never seen before.

After some cheeking price raising (after retailers caught on that X-Files box sets were selling well after the recent release of the second flick - which is the reason for my epic marathon), I got my mits on a copy of the box set and finished watching it the other day.

Simply put - enjoyable enough, but far from the excellence of The X-Files, indeed it's a completely different show, almost entirely so. Despite being lighter fair, it still doesn't rise to the heights of the lighter episodes of The X-Files (which were, honestly, superb). It's not complete trash - far from it - but they never really figured out what the show should be, never quite got the tone right. A good idea, unfortunately not a fully successful one.

Some people quite liked it, and fair play to them. Perhaps I was still bowled over by the awesomeness of The X-Files (even though the last two seasons weren't quite up to the standard of the first seven seasons) ... I think I can best sum it up this way.

When I was watching The X-Files, the most episodes in one day I managed was seven (hey, don't judge me, we all have our DVD box set splurges from time-to-time), whereas the most episodes of TLG I managed in one day was two. What now though? Why, Band of Brothers of course - I finally got my mits on it for cheap, it's been over thirty quid for feckin' years!

Jackie Brown...

Back in the day I rented this from our local video store, having already seen Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction (both of which are great flicks, obviously), but much to my dismay - I did not dig Jackie Brown. Sure, this was a decade ago (back in the fun days of VHS rental, ahh the memories), so this is why I figured that at four quid I might as well get the DVD.

After all, having recently re-watched the entire X-Files saga (said episodes of which I'd not seen in at least several years, and at most a decade), and subsequently gotten even more out of it now that I'm a decade older (it's now my new religion, ha!) I thought this might be the case with Jackie Brown.

Well...I loved The X-Files originally, and I've adored it further now that I've had my marathon of it ... I didn't love Jackie Brown originally, so having just seen it the whole way through in one sitting for the first time in a long time (if not ever), I cannot say I now adore it. I certainly don't hate it anymore, I can dig it, but I still maintain that - for me at least - it is Tarantino's weakest flick. Perhaps this comes from the fact that he adapted the script from an existing book, so perhaps it's not the truest Tarantino out there.

So aye - I like it better (or a good deal better) than I originally did, but I remain un-bowled-over ... but it is nice to now have all of QT's flicks on DVD...onwards to the extra features!

Futurama: Bender's Game...

Admittedly, this and The Beast With A Billion Backs were a little bit of a let down compared to the triumphant return (and far more consistent guffaws) of Futurama with Bender's Big Score - that said, Futurama that's not quite as rosy as it once was, is far better than no Futurama - and indeed, better than any current Simpson's episodes.

Here's hoping that the fourth and final installment of this Futurama return to our screens finds all of its heart and soul once more, because a new season on television would be most welcome. The well is far from dry in the Futurama universe and it would be criminal to lose out on future Futurama.

Regardless of the drop in giggles, all Futurama fans should check this out.

Do you reckon I said "Futurama" enough?

Quantum of Solace...

It's been a bit of a slow time these last few weeks for blogging, I got a bit out of the way of doing it, but I've had a sudden flood of things I've watched to pimp some thoughts on (as such, forgive any spelling or gramatical slip-ups, having just written all this blog juice I can't be arsed to proof read it, it's not like I'm paid for it ha!), so here goes, the first of five posts this evening!

Quantum of Solace...

Having recently dived back into Casino Royale (with the spiffing 3-disc deluxe DVD), I was all set up and ready to go for Quantum of Solace, a sequel with no small amount of hype surrounding it - but QoS was always going to be a bit of a let down after the super-high, concrete-punch return of Bond in Casino Royale.

Indeed, this is the case - but with CR being so damn good, it means that QoS is still a highly enjoyable Bond outing (and certainly a damn sight better than the daft silliness of Brosnan's last outing). Methinks QoS does suffer from not being directed by Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale) who would have probably brought more weight and balance to the second third, which is where QoS does - quite honestly - sag a bit.

That said, the third-third picks the pace back up again (and is indeed occasionally quite rough for a 12A rated flick), but it's the first third where shit really hits the fan. A blistering, gasp-inducing car chase kicks proceedings off immediately, leading on to a considerable amount of action up front - then we have the plot all come in one big lump (pretty much anyway) and this is where it decides to tread a bit of water. Had Campbell been directing, there would have no doubt been some better balancing going on around about here.

That said, Marc Forster does a solid job - but considering he's the man behind flicks such as Stranger Than Fiction and Monster's Ball, perhaps he's not best suited to this sort of film.

Daniel Craig is still absolutely rocking it as the ever-so-smooth (but not sickly so) James Bond - so hurrah that he's signed up for more. The action - when it's rocking your socks on screen - barrels the film along at a fair lick ... it's just that mid-third where it wobbles somewhat. Although I'm adamant that those expressing cries of "boring" are making a mountain out of a molehill, but nor is it a pebble in the road.

QoS is a good half hour or so shorter than Casino Royale, but Campbell's flick feels far brisker and more consistent throughout, whereas QoS erupts from the off, runs a bit out of breath, then regains its composure for a solid closing set piece (although admittedly the sinking of the house in Venice was more impressive).

Don't expect Casino Royale, but likewise don't expect the last of the Brosnan output, and do expect Craig's continued sock-rocking and all should be right in your world.