Film Review: Flyboys

When George Lucas was first trying to explain the Tie-fighter and X-wing dog fights in Star Wars (1977) he used World War II dogfight recordings to convey the tension and action the way he imagined it. These visuals lead to the now common place air-to-air and space to space combat scenes we see today in television series like Babylon 5, Stargate SG-1 and Battlestar Galactica. At the time it was unconventional and difficult to perform and now it happens on a daily basis.

Flyboys makes use of the (then) latest CGI technology for the air combat shown in the film as the use of replica planes didn’t sync well. It was pulled off fantastically, I was expecting either greatly exaggerated feats or unrealistic physics and performances of the aircraft rather than accurate portrayals.

Not being a pilot myself I’ve always liked imagining taking the pilot seat and flying, I’m seen many air (and some space) combat films that have really got me swaying in my seat with the momentum, Flyboys is the first that’s been an artificial experience.

Sure there have been computer games that try to mimic the experience but when I was fanatically playing them the detail was just too poor to relish the simulation. Nowadays computer rigs and consoles provide entire skies that pull you into the scene.

Perhaps oneday I’ll have the time and inclination to do more than an afternoon gliding around the British countryside but until then films such Flyboys will kept my dreams alive.

A superb film, although some events are predictable you won’t be sure when they’ll happen, luckily there are some outright surprises too!

Rating: 87%

P.S. If you liked watching this an all-time classic is Memphis Belle, which is also based on a true story.

Film Review: The Mummy 3 – Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Sequels are fantastic things because they offer something more about something you already like. However trying to use, or recreate the same ‘magic’ that made you like the original is trickier creating something widely liked from scratch.

The first Mummy film was fantastic. The Mummy Returns felt to me like another adventure in the series and was about as good as the first. This third film, whilst it was goods in it own right, does not do the other ones justice. I however would like a forth film, (the hot Coyote Ugly owner) Maria Bello, stated in an interview that “absolutely” another Mummy film will be made so I look forward to having 2 sets of Mummy films in my collection as that is really how I see them, 2 distinctly different series both of equal rating to the other.

Continue reading Film Review: The Mummy 3 – Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Film Review: The Dark Knight

Film quality is getting better and better. The bar, the standard, has been pushed so high that its very expensive to beat the expectation the last film leaves you for the next. The Dark Knight, the second in the new Batman franchise left me in awe. Having recently seen Iron Man I expected practically seamless transactions between actors, digital dummies, and effects what I didn’t expect was the entire package; sound, mood, storyline, growth, depth. Everything came together beautifully, each frame felt like it had been hand crafted rather than one in a among hundreds or thousands, in a particular scene.

There are 3 aspects that warrant attention, and all for positive reasons; The Joker, was magnificently portrayed by Heath Ledger, at the Première there was at least one mention of it being an Oscars worthy performance, this I whole heartedly agree with, whether it will actually happen is another story altogether (Best Picture 1977?).

Highlight number two, the score, a beautiful classically based musical accompaniment. It didn’t feel like pulp culture music, I felt it was an everlasting classic, something that won’t feel dated over time.

And finally the story, gripping, I never knew what was going to happen next and I couldn’t wait to find out.

No criticism from me here, I really would like to try but I can’t, it was a film I thoroughly enjoyed and will sing praises loudly about. Not something I often do so enjoy it while it lasts, hopefully I’m not the only one to feel this way and no-one will throw any right hooks and my view.

Rating: 97.8%

-0.2% because cinema ticket prices are so damn expensive when wanting to see it again.

Film Review: Arthur and the Invisibles

On a whim from my girl I watched this peculiar children’s flick, I immediately came to realise this is the noughties Labyrinth. For those not old enough to have watched Labyrinth as a child then imagine only ever having watched animation or live actions films. Nothing in between or computer generated. Then think what it would be like to have all manner of creatures interacting in a real way with actors, okay they were muppets from Jim Henson but it was amazing to see something so different to what you are used to.

That is how it felt to watch this film, they didn’t try to make the digital characters look completely realistic, nor did they try to make them look cartoon like they have in so many films by Pixar (Toy Story for example) they simply styled them in a beautiful and unique way that sets this film apart from so many other CG animations.

Enough about its differences, was it good? Crikey it was, even for a children’s plot as an adult I was gripped, you weren’t quite sure what was going to happen next and they didn’t make a point of struggling with easy problems in the film, it was performed as you’d expect people (with a little know how) would do. This was carried remarkably by the male protagonist Freddie Highmore (Finding Neverland, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) whom most of the live action sequences focused, accompanying him are some marvellous vocals from Robert de Niro, Madonna, Emilo Estevez and Jimmy Fallon.

There are those that have criticise the film for mimicking certain fairytales* but so many other films re-tell those all important and ancient fairytales and myths so I don’t think its fair to point at this one when so many others have done it, I think the contrary it adds to the reverence of the film.

The plot without revelling to much follows the line along this; a young boy, resourceful and obsessed with his grandfathers inventions and trinkets from his expeditions in Africa sets out to save this family’s farm from debt collectors by finding both the treasure in their backyard and his grandfather along the way. Luckily he has help….

There are rumours of 2 sequels in 2009 and 2010 but unfortunately I won’t have any kids as an excuse to go to the cinema so I might have to wait for the DVD releases.

In my opinion this film should gather a fan base in the future akin to Labyrinth or perhaps Tron, but only time will tell on this one. Give it a watch, its entertaining for adults and children alike.

Rating: 93%

Film Review: Transformers

My toys when I had a single digit age were Transformers, I saw the amazing animated movie at the cinema and even dressed up as Optimus Prime for a Halloween. As such in my teenage years I daydreamed what a live action film would be like, drawing on conclusions from what I’d seen in the cinema that week, be it The Matrix, or Episode 1. As years passed I grew more and more doubtful anyone from my generation would write a screenplay to get it directed and produced. Now its 2007 and my extremely high expectations have just about been reached.

Whilst I didn’t expect blocky robots with grotesque transformations I never imagined that the Autobots and Decepticons would be depicted so authentically. All the internal parts of the vehicle modes are visible in the humanoid form which is absolutely breathtaking, I don’t care how much it cost to render all the frames at 38 hours each it was worth every penny. However, now that the initial thrill is over I bet in the sequel (and there blatantly has to be one) there are more panels covering the mechanical organs, probably ret-con’d in as armour now that they are warring again.

Showed me something uncommon then, and a rarity now; for once the good guys didn’t always win outright at the conclusion of that weeks episode but they did eventually triumph in that particular story arch which meant that anything could happen and kept me guessing each week and inspiring me to work it out with my toys. With the eighties show being so iconic I assumed that the film might do the same, whilst the tale didn’t regale me as a beloved intrepid leader falling at the hands of the enemy the special effects did, something progressively harder in these insensitive times.

As for the toys, I owned Optimus Prime, both the original version and the Power Master version. I did not have Megatron, which is easily forgiveable because his alt mode was a pistol and given one of them to a kid is not something I would be entirely happy with today, toys guns should look like toys, plastic and brightly coloured. Maybe I’m being to PC but there are many parents not being protective enough out there and others being too much, if I fall into the ‘to much’ category on this issue so be it. Anyway, with the detail on the transformations being so high I’m interested to see how they engineer the newline of toys…

Hopefully you’ve kept reading to this point and as such I’ll not keep your attention much longer. This film whilst not entirely faithful to the animation that I loved so much is a fantastic watch. An entertaining story, great effects and superb performances.
Rating 96%

Wallpapers: Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9)

Film Review: Hot Fuzz

Another motion picture from the witty talents of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to see Pegg without seeing the Tim Bisley in the character we was portraying, as a great testament to Pegg’s acting skill he manages to create a very distinct persona that holds the film separate from any of his other works.

There is a great deal of depth to this film, subtle pieces of information a sprinkled from the very start and you’re only reminded of them towards the very end; making for great re-watching. For example the Andies mockingly say they should call everyone in the village starting with ‘Aaron A. Aaronson’ whom we actually get to see at the very end.

A lot of the information is quite accurate as well, a copper I met through the European Jamboree told me that Police training scenario’s are portrayed in a fictitious village called Sandford in Gloucester, the place where the film is focused. Brilliant, there must’ve been some real investigation into Police procedures when writing the screenplay hopefully winning some awards over the next year!

A laugh a minute film suitable for all occasions and company, certainly worth my £5 cinema ticket, and I wouldn’t put it past myself to making it an addition to my DVD collection in the future.

Rating: 96%