Category Archives: Review

Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Doctor_Horrible_BannerThe magic of Netflix is that every now and then you are flicking through all the crap that is presented side by side and you come across something pretty interesting. One such example is when I came across Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. So first off you see the cover, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney from HIMYM) in a white over coat and massive goggles. Good start. Also it is 40 mins long so not too much time to invest. Right, its got my interest,  little bit more persuasion needed through. I scroll down the info and see “Directed by – Joss Wheaten”. HOLD THE PHONE. This was made in 2008 and I missed it how? (The reason being it was distributed on-line only) So this is a one-off special by the great Geek Messiah and I was not aware of its existence.  OK I’m on board now, but wait there is more, “staring – Nathan Fillion”. Capitan Reynolds is a main character. Sweet baby Jesus!  Nothing, and I mean NOTHING can put me off watching this. “This musical adventure”……wait, it’s a musical, really? Eh….ok well lets give it a try.

So the basic premise is that we have Dr Horrible (Patrick Harris) who is an aspiring evil genius looking to break his way into the bad guy elite club known as the “Evil League of Evil” who is headed by the mysterious “Bad Horse”. So Dr Horrible video blogs (as any self-respecting wannabe tyrant would) and lets slip about “her”. This being his long-term “I stalk you in the laundromat when I’m not being evil” crush Penny (Felicia Day). So the dream is to change society,  rule the world and get the girl. A straight forward and entertaining storyline mainly expressed through the media of song. The only thing standing in Dr Horrible’s way is the dashing superhero Caption Hammer (Fillion) who is Dr Horrible’s arch-enemy . So Dr H develops a gun to freeze time so that he can put Penny in suspended animation giving him the opportunity tell her how he feels without falling over his awkward words (who said romance was dead). But just as things are coming together a spanner is thrown into the works as “Bad Horse” summons his singing cowboy messengers (oh yes) to inform Dr H that he has a chance to impress the League and gain entry.  So what will he do? How will it all pan out? I’m not going to tell you! You will need to watch it.

In all honesty this is one of the best 40 of TV I have seen in a long time. I will be perfectly honest and say that imagesdfmusicals are definitely not my thing. When a musical number crops up in something like HIMYM then I tend to cringe and feel there is no point to them other than to make me uncomfortable. Put it this way, even short adds for Glee make me want to end it all, as that 20 seconds of guff makes me lose hope for humanity. BUT…. the songs in this are excellent, more a vehicle to get the inner thoughts of the characters across than big showy musical tunes for entertainments sake, personally how I think musical numbers should be used. I am reminded of another Wheaton creation, “Buffy” and their OTT musical vampire slaying special “Once More, With Feeling” which must have been a good 10 years ago? (after research 2001, so 12 years ago!)

The story itself has a bit of the anti-superhero vibe that The Boys series has, portraying superhero’s as obnoxious bullies and fairly air headed where as the villains of the piece are introduced as people who will go all dr-horribles-sing-along-blog-neil-patrick-harris-nathan-fillion_article_story_mainout to try to change the way things are, to battle against their bullying adversaries. There is a fairly massive unmistakable undertone of the high school “Jock vs Nerd” conflict but making the Nerd (i.e. the apparently weaker of the two) the stereotypical bad guys make the average Wheaton fan, who is your quintessential nerd/geek, warm to Dr H. It makes him an anti-hero you really get behind and route for. This is summed up in a montage song by Capitan Hammer where he toys with Dr H as he gives him a wedgy and poses for tourists while battering the daylights out of his Nemesis. Also making Fillion the air headed jock is a stroke of genius. Anyone who has seen Firefly will have a massive soft spot from him and during this story you start to route against his character but I found that I still really like the character simply because it was Fillion. I think this made the story more enjoyable.

To be honest this show was made to be entertaining. Its got a great story with loads going on. Almost like the second season of Dollhouse where a smorgasbord of ideas were crammed in where perhaps a quarter of them would have sufficed. Despite this Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is never confusing, it never really has a lull either. The story is simple but has many layers and undertones which make it so much more than just a collection of songs about love and revenge on the world. This is well worth a watch and any fan of Joss Wheaten will not be disappointed, even if you hate Glee as much as I do.

Until next time

Fall

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That was 2012

iIj9HI3bpK1kSo new year has passed and all hail 2013 as we hurdle into its third week. Im pretty glad 2012 is over. Not that it was a terrible year, really it was a bit meh. Movies this year have been pretty good but I honestly only remember coming out of 2 or 3 thinking  “I would really like to see that again”. Fern Cotton also deemed this a glorious year for music on Christmas day Top of the Pops. Total pish. Music this year has been pretty poor. The Killers and Muse had new albums which failed to reach the bands past heights and as far as new music goes there was not much to write home about. Thankfully, due largely to Netflix  this year has been ace for TV shows. I have been able to catch up on shows I had never seen for one thing. Like about 80% of the people I know with Netflixs I started watching Breaking Bad for the first time and Dexter. This year also saw new sitcoms “New Girl” and “Don’t trust the Bitch in Apartment 23” which were excellent and the not to excellent but “It has its moments” How to be a Gentleman (staring Johnny  Drama/Kevin Dillon).

Ok, so now I will give my _____ of 2012. These might not have been made in 2012 but hey, this is my blog and these made my year!

Film of 2012

This was a really easy one in the end but I will quickly go through notes of intrest. Way back in January
The Gray came out. A film where basically Liam Neeson kicks the crap out of wolves (See here). Really enjoyed this film and thought it one of the better this year. There were alot of disappointing films at the start of the year to compensate. “Haywire” was a utterly underwhelming offering, “This Means War” was just terrible and the “220px-Dredd2012PosterDictator” did nothing for Sacha Baron Cohen’s reputation.On the upside there was “The Muppets” and “21 Jump Street” to keep things ticking along until SUPERHERO SUMMER where my number one sits. So it was a time for heroes and we got them in abundance, The Avengers Movie was nothing short of amazing. Great story, Great action, an all round amazing film but not my #1. “So its Batman?” you say. Nope. Another brilliant film but I had my issues with it (especially the ending) so is not top of the pile. “John Carter? The Expendables? Surely Ted doesn’t count?” Your right it does not, My number one film of 2012 is……. Dredd.

I loved everything about Dredd. It looked cool, its plot was really simple, the pacing of the dialogue to action was perfect. Essentially Judge Dredd and partner are lock in at the bottom of a massive tower block and need to get to the top to get out. Only problem is that everyone in the building wants them dead. There is more to it than that but not much more. Another plus point is that it is one of the only 3D films I have seen that was made better by the technology. My #1 hands down.

TV show of 2012

thickofit460There have been alot of great shows this year. As said above I have watched a host of excellent dramas but this year has been brilliant for sitcoms. I was losing faith in sitcoms, with the wealth of British offerings drying up due to the “give over rated comedian his own show” sponge. But this year i have see some great comedy. It has helped as old favourites  such as “30 Rock” and “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia” have been bang on form and the new arrivals mentioned in the intro have added something fresh. Even hidden gems like “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” and the unmissable “The League”  have brought a smile to my face. This year also marked the end of Limmys Show. It is a poor decision by the BBC to keep giving Russell Howard so much money than he knows what to do with it and pulls Limmys brand of off the wall comedy. Anyway to my #1 for TV is another series which has ended this year. Armando Iannucci stunning “The Thick off It”. I can only assume you have all watched this and if you haven’t, come on, sort it out. The satire is brilliantly clever and is perfectly mirrored by the eloquent strings of profanity from Malcolm Tucker. I personally love Armando’s work and if you haven’t see “The Armando Iannucci Shows” or “Time Trumpet” then give them a try.

Music of 2012 

Ah. Well. This could be tricky. Music this year has been disappointing to say the least. If its not Dub step or songs about Equestrian Eventing (I assume from the actions?) then theres not been alot of noise made about anything. Music has been quiet this year. That said The Hives were on Jools Holland at new year so at least it ended well! I suppose my album of the year was actually relased late 2011 but I never got hold of till last year. It is Los Campesinos! – Hello Sadness. Great album, will add a track below and for more on them head here.

Oh and I suppose my Song of the Year is this below from Bloc Party.

Internet Thing of 2012

Butterfield. Last year you stole my heart. www.peterserafinowicz.com/brian-butterfield/

Well that will do. Like 2012 this is not the best, maybe slightly rushed but hey! Lets get on with 2013.

Till next time

Fall

Review of the Review of the Year

Hopefull-2012-WallpaperSo it’s that time of the year again where Christmas has passed and the TV big wigs are looking for cheap ways to fill up the schedules while everyone is still of work. They used to rely on rerunning all the old Christmas specials or stand out programs of the year but they have become so lazy that they now show all of that on Christmas day. tbh I’m pretty sure that bits of the queens speech were reused from last year spliced with footage of the Kings speech, not that i was paying much attention. So how to fill the void, how to entertain the masses without spending a lot of money on writing or appearance fees etc. Then one stormy evening it happened, lightning hit the roof of channel 4 tower and they made the ‘review of the year show’. Its brilliant really. There is no need to write any complex and riveting story because it has all ready happened, plus everyone has seen it happen and because of this it makes for easy viewing as the viewer knows what is coming next.

b006t8dlNow there are several kinds of ‘End of the Year’ shows. There is you review quiz, your talking heads look back, your clip show etc. All very simple telly, But what made these reviews popular? They were about years ago but never a flagship show. When did this start? Rise Sir Charlie Brooker, King of the clip show and creator of the new breed of year review. Brooker has taken a very cheap clip based format and made it his own with his unrivaled way to getting his point across and his ‘one of the geeks’ persona which gives hopeless middle of the roaders, like me, giving us hope that one day we too can own a production company and marry a Blue Peter presenter. The BBC gave Brooker his own show with Screenwipe and then the festive special of the same format and since then hasn’t really looked back. Brookers Review of the year is the tv highlight of the festive period for me. And as the years go on and Brooker himself gets more of a life and less time to publicly moan (selfish git!) we get to see less and less of him on our screens, which with the current crop of up and comers, is a real shame.

68d5bed8-1ef5-4808-89e1-825d11255ce2_625x352But its not only the BBC that used this format for cheep tv, no, channel 4 were hot on their heels with their flagship new year battle cruiser ‘The Big Fat Quiz of the Year’. I am personally a fan of 8 Out of 10 Cats which is roughly the same format with Jimmy Carr presenting. Unfortunately Jimmy Carr is about as much as I can take from the “Fat Quiz”. The show itself is not that bad, the questions are fine but they seem to only be able to attract the biggest dicks in telly land. This years tosserfest includes the moronic Jonathan Ross, the ‘as funny as a spanner to the teeth’ Russel Howard and the double headed dickheads Whitehall and Cordon. Its funny that these are the four most insufferable numpties I have ever seen. Believe it or not I will not be watching it this year!

A slightly better channel 4 offering this year is ‘2012 Mashed’. This offering shows original short films outlining the events of the last year made by the best talent of the internet. Or so they say. The show unfortunately only shows clips of these short films so really doesn’t make much sense to me, why not make the show twice as long and show the whole thing? Apparently the whole of the films are on the internet but i can not find them anywhere (well bits and bobs on Youtube). Ah well. Well worth a look if you are a fan of internet films. One of the best being a feed from the Queens Facebook, a little song about Steve Jobs and a tribute to lonesome George (below).

So in review these reviews may need review in future. At least we have “Brookers 2012 Wipe” on New Years Day, BBC2 at 10. Enjoy!

Till next time,

Have a great Hogmany and 2013,

Fall

Paranoid Android

A list of my top 5 games on an Android phone.

So not so long ago I needed to make that decision that everyone needs to make at some time, Iphone or Android? I went for a HTC in the end which has beats music and is upgraded to Ice-cream sandwich (Win or yawn depending on how much of a tech-head you are). So its been a while and I have now tried a good couple of games. So these are my top 5!

5. Frisbee 

So this is not my first choice of game when I’m looking to waste 10 minutes at the bus stop but from time to time its a bit of fun. Basically you have a Frisbee and you throw it through all of the floating rings to the end ring. You  can also collect stars to get gold/silver/bronze awards. The best thing about this game is that you control the flight of the Frisbee by tilting your phone. This is what takes this game from a bit of a time waster to being a game that you will probably replay a fair bit. You can also unlock new designs of Frisbee so that is kinda cool too. Great game and free.

4. Bow Man

Well it doesn’t get more basic than this game. You are a stick figure with a bow and arrow. You fire at another stick figure with a bow and arrow. You trade shots until one of you takes to many leg shots or you get a critical hit. It’s all about the angles and power. Nice straight forward game that I remember playing on the Macs at school and can now be downloaded for free. To make it a bit harder you can add walls and wind. Good fun and really easy to play. Well worth a go and free.

 

3. World Of Goo

So from basic to the story of the small construction loving world of the goo balls. Basically you have some goo. It’s in one place and the suction hover thing that you want to collect them with is WAAAAAYYY over the other side. On the upside the goo’s can be stretched to construct a bridge or tower or a mash-up snake thing etc. There is a loose story but it’s basically a construction game with a bit of charm and with out trains crashing to their doom when you make mistakes.  This is a paid game but really good for a couple of quid.

2. Basketball

Its one word. It’s a sport. Is there much to this game? No. It’s a basketball hoop. A basketball. You take shots and you get points if you make it and lose a go if you miss. What I can understand is why this game is so addictive? It’s really simple, you take a shot by pulling away from the ball and aiming with a arching guide that gets shorter as the levels go up. There are 10 shots in each level and when you lose 10 balls the game ends. If you get a “clean” basket you get an extra ball. Nothing more to the game play. There are missions like “get to level 12” and when you complete these you get a new design of ball but that’s not the addictive element. Suppose you need to try it out. As with the first few this is a free game!

1. Quell Reflect 

So this is my number one game. I think something that is important to be number one is that the game has longevity and is challenging. This game is a puzzle game. You basically have bubbles that need to collect silver balls to move onto the next puzzle. There are things in the way like spikes, poison bubbles and infinite loops. There are also different approaches to the levels with transportation hoops and power up balls. Basically it makes every level challenging but also very different. Once you complete the level you can then go back and try to do it in the minimum amount of moves. Its a clean and professional game which is really fun to play. Overall its a great wee game and is only 69p.

Ok so that’s my run down. Do you agree? Have I missed anything glaring (Maybe Temple Run?) let me know.

Anyway, till next time

Fall

 

Gig Review – Los Campesinos!

Liquid Rooms Edinburgh, 28/03/12. Support – Tall Ships

So my very social week was rounded off by heading to my first gig since seeing Modest Mouse about a year ago. Sad as it is but most of the bands I like don’t head to Edinburgh that often. This paired with the fact that as I become older and more of a recluse I am less inclined to travel to see a band. So I was delighted when buying tickets for next months Graham Coxon gig to see that Los Campesinos! were playing. Ten bucks (well 12.63 or what ever the “Booking fee” for buying a ticket over a shop counter is) to see one of my favourite bands looked like a dam good deal.

Another reason I fancied this gig was that I have never seen them play coupled with the shocking fact that I have yet to listen to their new album which came out late last year. I decided not to listen to any of the new songs once I bought the ticket and wait to catch them live. I thought it would be an odd experience to know every word of 2/3’s of the songs and have no clue about the other 1/3. Think about how often this kind of opportunity occurs? So on Wednesday evening I left for the Liquid Rooms with a feeling of anticipation as well as the usual pre gig feelings of excitement and a dread of disappointment since it was my first time seeing them (Sometimes bands disappoint, it happens).

I have been to the Liquid Rooms once before when I went to see The Hot Hot Heat about 7 years ago. I remembered the balconied and bar at the back but I remembered the venue being much larger. This has happened to me before with the Garage in Glasgow. I went when I was 15 to see CKY, a gig I can remember really clearly. Yet when I returned early last year to see the Wildhearts the place seemed to be about a quarter of the size I expected. Must be a visual spacial defect of getting older!

Anyway, onto the gig itself.

I got there about ten minutes before the support band. Pretty chuffed with my timing I looked around and found a nice wee space next to a pillar.I then settled in to watch Tall Ships. Tall Ships are a three piece band where both the bassist and guitarist use keyboards and effects to beef up their sound to build up their songs into epic crescendos of noise before breaking down to start the process again. The guitarist used a loop peddle more than any one else I have seen using one. Rather than using it as a gimmick or a bit of fun, it was used in every song. This obviously gives the songs layered complexity but it did mean that during the build up each layer needed to be recorded before everything really kicks off. This can take a while but is all held together with some excellent technical drumming which without over complicating things kept these long build ups from becoming stale. I enjoyed what they did, they played a nice varied set and are comfortably up there with the best supports I have seen in the last few years. (http://www.myspace.com/tallshipsfromfalmouth)

So after a fair bit of set up it was time for the main event. It was time for the 7 piece “Los Campesinos!” to get the capacity crowed moving. Having never seen the band I was surprise by the amount of kit they had on stage. Other than your standard guitars, bass and drums there were two synths, a xylophone and a second drum rig, as well as a selection of odd bits a bobs scattered around. I’m not going to go into detail about every song and how they made me feel or even into great depth about what their music is like. I mean its easy enough to listen to yourselves and form your own opinions. You all ready know that I’m a fan and was not disappointed by their live performance, in fact I thought they were brilliant.  All I will say is that their music ranges from all out bouncy-dance-along numbers to deeper almost poetic songs ( I would recommend  listening the album “Romance Is Boring” to get a feel of this). What I will say is for a band with so many “moving” parts they kept everything really tight while not taking themselves too seriously on stage. They genuinely looked like they were having a great time and isn’t that why any band go out to tour? (I suppose it doesn’t seem that way all the time these days) to find out more head to –  http://www.facebook.com/loscampesinos

Overall I thought this was a great gig. It is always a bit of a victory when the band play your favourite song near the end when you think they had maybe omitted it. (In this case a song called “The sea is a good place to think about the future) Also when a band are a good laugh between songs thats a bit of a bonus as well. So, if you had never heard of Los Campesinos then give them a try, and if you have then maybe give Tall Ships a go.

Anyway,

Till next time,

Fall

Review – 21 Jump Street

Learning from my mistakes

So last week “This Means War” left a bad taste in the mouth and I was desperate for something in the cinema that can be called a “brainless film” to be half decent. I don’t even demand to be wowed. I just wanted to have a little laugh and let the pool of dribble collect on the floor as a switch my brain off for 90 minutes. The decision to venture out and try another film of this kind straight away was a hard one. During the trailers last week I noticed this little film, “21 Jump Street”. Watching the trailer I laughed a couple of times (twice more than in This Mean War) but I was not convinced. What made me go was that I once said the same thing about another film starring Jonah Hill, “Superbad” and I was wrong not to go and see that.

So that’s where the  misleading by-line comes from. Not because this film is terrible. Far from it. Basically “21 Jump Street” was exactly what I was after and I didn’t let it pass like Superbad.

One thing that this film has on “This Means War” is that its funny. It even verges on really good at times. This is mainly down to the writers actually sitting down, reading out the jokes and physically seeing if it made anyone laugh. The writers of T.M.W. seemed to just take situations that might rise a laugh and inserted a mixture of funny sounding words and crude sex references. Where as the 21 Jump team have taken a story and then thought about how to make it funny. Basically they took a bit of time and craft unlike last weeks offering.

So what is 21 Jump Street? Well it was a T.V. series about young-looking cops going under cover in high schools and collages . Now I don’t know about you but I had never heard of the show before I saw the film. Little did I know that the show had ran for 5 seasons, having 103 episodes in the process and starred non other than Johnny Depp, so it must have had some class and a bit of a following. I don’t think the film takes a lot from the TV series other than the name and the concept. It is about two guys Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and  Jenko (Channing Tatum) who both head into police training after being polar opposites at High School (Tatum the jock and would-you-believe-it Hill the nerd). While training they become best friends and partners in the force. It goes a bit wrong for them when they attempt their first bust. After making a bit of a balls up they are put on the 21 Jump Street Crew because they can both pass for high school kids. They go under cover in a high school where lo and behold everything has changed. It is now cool to be a nerd and Hill’s character goes from the most unpopular kid in school during his own high school experience to being the cool guy. And in a “shocking” but not all that upsetting twist Tatum character goes from prom king to outcast. The guys are trying to bring down a drug ring and…well….you can kind of guess the storyline which concludes at Prom.

It is a very good story. It keeps ticking along nicely and dose not get to bogged down in little tangents like some similar films do. It keeps a good pace and the laughs have a good rhythm to them aswell. Basically you are looking at a film somewhere between Role Models and the remake of Starsky and Hutch.

I would also like to give a tip-of-the-hat to Jonah Hill for his role in this film. Not only does he star but he is also one of the writing double team. Now I have already praised the writing for an almost perfect brainless film but I think that Hill’s role has giving me a new-found respect for the guy. I liked him in Superbad but he seemed to be a bit of a one trick pony since then playing a slightly older version of the same character. He then had small yet decent bit parts in films such as Get him to the Greek and  Funny People. I was also not a fan of his work in Cyrus, mainly as he seemed to be doing that “Jonah Hill” role again. But I feel this film shows another side to him, which is also helped with his work developing the story line. I have definitely changed my view on the guy. He was also well received for his supporting role in “Moneyball” (a film I cant wait to see) which show he must be able to act beyond the “same old, same old” of his early career.

This film has also been giving the green light for a sequel which I am a bit unsure about. I’m never sure a film like this can endure another outing (god they tried/are trying with American Pie) but they are going to keep the same team and if they can come up with a good script, different enough to this film, then I suppose I am all for it.

So 21 Jump Street is well worth a watch, it’s no classic but what films have been lately.

Anyway,

Till next time,

Fall

Fall’s “Film That’s a Bit Different” Selection

An occasional piece looking at World Cinema or things you may not have seen

This is a new kind of article that I was toying with calling “World Cinema Film of the Week” but I don’t think it will happen as often as that. So what is this? Basically I am going to concentrate on giving your peepers something a bit different to watch from the usual action or comedy formulaic films of Hollywood.

So my first pick is a Japanese film called “The Machine Girl”. It’s may not be the best pick for something different I suppose. It has the Hollywood feel as it’s a film about revenge which has been done so many times in main stream cinema. I can’t think of the hook, the thing that makes it different. No wait…… the main character has a machine gun for an arm! Now she was not born with this. Here original arm (i.e. the one she was born with) was cut of by the Yakuza bad guy family after she went after them for killing her little brother and his friend. So she went to the friends family for help. They were mechanics and built her a machine gun arm. Pretty standard stuff for a film eh?

This film has the same visual effects director as Tokyo Gore Police ( Yoshihiro Nishimura)  which is another of my Favourite Japanese films. If you haven’t seen any of his work, it’s a bit like ever person in the film has the same blood pressure as a 54-year-old alcoholic Geography teacher who hates their life. Every time there’s a stabbing or a limb is cut off (about ever 36 seconds) then there is a high pressure fountain of blood. Very stylised and to be taken a little tongue in check. Certainly if you are looking for realism you have come to the wrong place. Then again if you look for realism you probably should pick up a DVD with a girl that has a machine gun where a hand should be.

So the film follow Ami as she attempts to kill everyone who is involved in killing her brother. Seems simple enough but there are scenes where she gets a tempura arm, where a man is tortures with nails in his face and a scene with a drill bra. Yip, a DRILL BRA. It’s not your average film and falls into the shock and gore genre of Asian cinema and is quite unlike any other area of film I have seen. What makes it different is that it doesn’t attack you with ridiculous shock gore all the time. At point you even forget that 5 minutes ago someone was cut in half in a geyser of blood. And then bang, 15 minutes of craziness before it settles down to a bit of average Asian drama.

Basically if you want to watch this film but are unsure, watch the first 5 minutes. If it’s not up your street then stop. If you have a stupid smile on you face like me then continue as you will love the whole crazy shamble that falls into order over the next 90 minutes. This won’t be up everyone’s street but it is on Netflix and I urge you to at least watch the beginning so you can chip in with opinion if anyone starts to talk about Japanese shock/gore films in the pub (happens all the time to me).

Right, well we will see how this goes down and if you want more of this kind of thing let me know with a wee comment and I will maybe make it a weekly post!

Till next time

Fall

Review – This Means War

The day I lost faith in humanity and worked out I a film snob

This evening it finally happened. I no longer believe that everyone is equal. It’s a lovely concept but in reality it can’t happen. I mean how can it when a whole cinema, not just a few people, laugh, openly laugh, through out this film. HOW! Ok, you might get the feeling I disliked this film from this opening statement. You are wrong. The film as a concept is sound. I could have been so much more if it had not been for terrible dialogue and being so bloody predictable.

So I went to see this film as one of these “you made me go and see *insert guy film title*” paybacks to the girlfriend. I thought it was a safe bet. A reasonably original concept, ok cast and a trailer which didn’t turn my eyes to a dribbling goo like most of the films the lady-friend thinks “might be ok”. I went in not wanting to pick holes in it, I just wanted to turn off my brain and enjoy a nice story, a bit of action and some general silliness. I didn’t happen. This review is not about picking hole, nope it’s about trying to find the edge on the gaping hole of the 97 minute shambles.

The problem isn’t the story. As I say the story is about as sound and a story about to CIA agents going out with the same girl can be. The two agents, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are both in love with Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) and use all manner of spy kit to hamper each others advances. All along some Russia mobster is trying to kill them when it is convenient to the storyline (this is a very muted storyline and is forgotten through out until its needed). Also Lauren Scott is given love advice by her friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) who is probably the worst character I have ever seen in a film (more about that below).

It also attempts to make a chick flick which is laced with action to interest dragged along boyfriends. A bit like cocktails that have beer or whisky in them. In doing so they kind of lose half the audience at each extreme and the bits where they meet are messy and a bit unpleasant to watch.

So as tradition dictates I am now going to a part with spoilers. Do yourself a favour and read it. You will thank me in the end (after watching this film I fear that’s not far off).

So first up is the completely predictable outcomes. Lets see if you can work it out what will happen from these three points.

1. One guy is American and the other is British and this film is made in America.

2. You find out at the beginning that the British character has a son to a mother he no longer lives with but she pops up from time to time.

3. A Russia guys brother is killed by the two agents at the beginning and he vows revenge.

So what happens? Go on have a guess!

Ok. She strings the two along, just as she is going to tell them who she has chosen she is kidnaped by the Russian, the two then save here, she picks the American guy (who is a bit of an asshole and kind of tricks her into liking her). The rejected British guy then gets back together with his wife and somewhere in there the Russia guy is killed in an explosion of some sorts. Now, here is a thought, how about changing it up a bit. Not have the same old formula. No chance that would require some kind of brain power by the writing staff.

This lack of grey matter when writing was also a problem with the dialogue. Lazy one liner, after lazy one liner. Quotes that don’t make sense. But the worst is the crud “girl chats” between Lauren and Trish. The Trish character fits the bill of  the fat crud guy role in an “Blokes” comedy. Think the bigger lass in that Bridesmaids film. What she says is embarrassingly crass and unfunny like shouting “That’s what we need, a SEX OFF!” in a soft play surrounded by children. Just loud and trying badly to be edgy for the sake of it. The story and the flow of the film is hampered by it and it tipped this film from poor to terrible in my eyes.

I also didn’t help that the “Live from the Red Carpet” crap during the trailers gave the punchline away to one of the only well-developed jokes in the whole film. This is where Tuck destroys the field at a paint ball game in a nice long montage of ass kicking. Then when talking to Lauren she accidentally shoots him in the crotch. It would have been a bit obvious but maybe would have raised a giggle if I had not known what was going to happen the second I clocked a paint ball gun. Not the films fault I suppose but cinemas need to stop crap like that happening.

On a positive Tom Hardy is very good in the film. I felt he played the role really well and I was even a tad pleased when he got a girl at the end. My respect for him has risen and he proved himself as a fine actor despite working with a terrible script. I also though that Reese Witherspoon come out with plus marks over all but Chris Pine struck me as a poor-mans Jason Bateman.

The thing that really gets me is that people will like this film. They will even say it was good when in reality it was terrible lowest-common-denominator  trash that had the potential to be so much more. I wish they had spent as much time on writing the script as they did on working on the concept.

God I hope the next film I see is a belter so I can be positive about it. Writing this was draining!

Anyway

Till next time

Fall

Review – The Muppets

CGI vs Sock Puppet Theatre

This is my long-awaited review of the New Muppet’s film. This is the first venture onto the big screens for everybody’s  favourite puppet characters for 12 years. Since Muppets Treasure Island there have been massive advances in technology and almost every kids film is now CGI (well at least the very best are). So will old Kermit and Miss Piggy be able to battle it out with Wall-e and the Toy Story Gang?

I was instantly worried when at the beginning of The Muppets as Disney had added a little Pixar short called “Short Fry” starring the Toy Story Cast. I am a huge fan of these shorts and own the DVD of them. I was exited but also a bit worried. This wasn’t a Pixar film so maybe Disney felt the movie was going to need this highlight  to soften the blow of a poor Muppets film. It was either under confidence in the feature film or they had a nice wee Toy Story short that Disney wanted to get out there. Thankfully it was the second and The Muppets was excellent, as was the short. The plot of the short is that a miniature Buzz Lightyear toy in a burger joint wants to get out of the display case his is stuck in. He sees regular size Buzz Lightyear in the ball pit and hatches a plan to escape in his place so he can be played with. The story also has a brilliant scene of a support group for “Happy Meal” toys who don’t get the love that other toys get.

So the Muppets. Basic premiss of the film is that Walter (a Muppet) and his brother Gary (played by Jason Segel) live in a happy-go-lucky stuck-in-the-50’s-esk place called Smalltown. Walter grows up being a huge fan of the Muppets as he feels he can identify with them (he never twigs that he himself is a muppet). When he joins Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) on a trip to LA they visit the Muppets studio which is run down and on its last legs. While there Walter finds out about an evil oil barons plan to take over the studio, level it and drill for the oil that lies below. He then finds Kermit, explains what’s happening and that they need to find 10 million dollars before the deadline. The only way to do this is to get the old gang together and put on a telethon to raise the cash. Can they get the gang together? Can they put on a show?

Here is where I usually give a whole “there maybe spoilers ahead” but there will only be one and it’s not critical to the film. I will however put a wee spoiler alert in italics when it coming!

So my thoughts on this film. I loved it. It’s the first film I have seen in ages that I couldn’t find a fault with. I’m not saying that they whole film is gold, it has its lulls but even these are entertaining and develop the story, but at its best it is brilliant. The film works on a few levels. First it takes the mick out of itself, it’s not at all serious and there are a lot of little nudge nudge references given to the audience.  It also has a wee go at the popular “singing” film where people burst into sporadic song by doing the same thing but with a “tongue in cheek” attitude to these scenes. One of these songs (Man or a Muppet) also won an Oscar for best original song.  It is also a really good Muppets story. All the main characters get their time to shine and whole film is entertaining, funny and really easy to watch.

Ok this paragraph has the small spoiler. Here I want to look at the subtle joke that is made when getting the Muppets gang back together. So the gang need 10 million dollars to survive but the “ONLY WAY” is to put on a show. Obviously it’s not the only way and as you meet each of the Muppets you notice that Miss Piggy (who is working high up for Vogue) and Gonzo (who owns a massive bathroom warehouse) could probably both afford 10 million straight off. Also Kermit lives in a Bel Air mansion which he could probably sell. At least between them they could stump up the cash. To drive this joke home Gonzo blows up his factory when he decides to joint the cause rather than sell it, for say, ten million dollars. I liked this. It kind of looks that the decision making of characters in films and makes a joke about them (like when you can’t understand why a character did one thing rather that the easier and more effective option other than it makes the film better).

Last off I would like to mention the cameos in the film. There are loads but they are done really well. I will not tell you who they are but the best are when Walter looks into the mirror and sees a human version of himself and the person who plays drums in the Muppets tribute band in Reno.

I would advise anyone to go and see this film. It’s really good and I probably should have gone to see this again instead of seeing Ghost Rider!

Till next time

Fall

Review – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Can Old Saint Nick (Cage) get back to his best? 

So. I was going to write a review of the Muppets, which I went to see last night but something happened. A friend of mine asked if I would like to go to the cinema today. I said “Sure, not up to anything. What is on that you have not see?”. Now my friend frequents the cinema a lot and the only real option was “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”. First thought was “Ok. Nick Cage. Good in Kick Ass but was also in The Wickerman making a fool of himself” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo) So I went in with an open mind, as you need to if you are going to write about a film. Especially a Nick Cage film.

So whats it about? Well if like me you missed the first film this is how it was explained by my mate. Johnny Blaze (worst name ever for comic book character) makes a deal with the devil to keep his dad alive. The devil doesn’t keep the deal but still puts the spirit of some kind of evil vengeance angle into him. Every now and then Blaze’s head…well…. turns to a blazing skull and he then kills all evil people around him with his really hot chains. Ok. You got that? Cool. Also in the last film he quests to get rid of his split personality but when he is told he can ditch his fiery head he chooses to keep it. This is also the main theme of this film. He is the Ghost Rider. The son of the devil shows up and he needs to save him past the day of the “ritual” because he fancies the kids mum. He also thinks there is a good angel stuck in the bad angel that is stuck in him. Not complicated at all.

So let’s get this out of the way right now. Its getting to be a bit of an elephant in the room. You want to know what I thought? Well….. it was terrible. Not in a movie snob way but in the way that it was so boring even during the action sequences. Also Nick Cage is trying act his way to a contender for his performance in the Wickerman. He over acts everything, his one liners are delivered with the timing of a whale in tap shoes and he has one sequence where he intimidates a “bad guy” he is squawking and moving his head so much it looks like the Family Guy impressions of Bill Cosby. In fairness this scene was hilarious but i feel was never intended to be.

Talking of Family Guy jokes, one of the bad guys had the power of decay (despite decaying anything he touches ( i.e. swords or monks) he can still drive a car?). So he tries to eat food from a lunch box in a bit of light hearted “bad guy” comedy. He has an apple but lo and behold it rots as he raises it to his mouth. The same happens to the sandwich he has a go at.  But then he picks up a Twinkie and (lol) it doesn’t decay. “HAHAHAHAHA, U KNOW LIKE IN FAMILY GUY!!! ROFLCOPTER!!!”. This is also the only joke in the whole film. The rest is terribly dull action sequences and shocking one liners. The main problem is the film can not work out what I wants to be so tries everything. Its a bit of a mess really.

I don’t really what to continue with this review. It is to easy to pick apart and I am trying so hard to find a positive. Maybe if you have nothing better to do you can go and have a laugh. The only upside I can see is this film will allow you to appreciated better films more having seen this dross. So technically this film is doing a lot of good by lowering expectations so that average films will now be  seen as “quite good”. That a positive I suppose!

Nick Cage needs to take a long look at himself, then he will look at all the cash he has and not feel so bad I suppose.

Coming soon my Muppets review.

Till next time

Fall

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