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: 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%

Films of the Year

This year (including the films yet to be published) I have watched 141 films, not including repeats. That is a lot of films if you think about it, roughly 2.7 films per week, at an average film being 100 minutes long it totals 270 minutes each week.

In a week there are 10080 minutes, thats roughly 6720 minutes awake.

Minutes Days * Hours * Minutes Reason
10080 = 7* 24 * 60 Minutes in a week
-3360 = 7 * 8 * 60 Minutes asleep
-840 = 7 * 120 Eating and bathroom breaks
-630 = 7 * 1.5 * 60 Traveling
-2400 = 5 * 8 * 60 Work or Education Etc
-120 = 2 hours Scouting or Guiding
+2730 = Total  

So of the remaining I’ve spent roughly a tenth of my time watching films, thats quite a lot. I wouldn’t quite class myself as a filmaholic must I would say I have a love of the cinema. Perhaps I should do the same again next year, dunno nobody seems to pay much interest to the listings.

Bangor “Blackadder” SSAGO Rally

AKA The Great Welsh Rally 2

So this is my inaugural rally as SSAGO Publicity Officer, this is what I thought it would entail: More people knowing my name than knowing theirs, more free drinks, the ability to get anything done without actually doing it myself, a lot of talking and playing of silly games.

Okay more people did know my name, there were the usual offers of free drinks, I did my fair share of the work ( in all honesty I know that I command jack so its not a surprise ) there was a medium about of talking but most of it was in meetings, I missed out on so much of the fun of Rally the Sunday Morning silly games and the Saturday Morning activities and the Gadaffy Plate Challenge that I’ve still only seen at my first Rally in Loughborough.

Barely arrived on the Friday, much disarray was caused by the Football and Rugby matches on the Friday evening just as I was arriving in Cardiff to hitch a lift. I owe a big thanks to Mark for the ride and would thoroughly recommend him as a driver, fast, reliable, cautious.

Stayed up late catching up with the magnitude of happenings to my fellow ssagoers and setting my unfortunately neutral stance on all the politics orbiting the Club Representatives meeting some 5 hours later and the Exec meeting on Sunday.

Despite all the cloak and dagger discussion I wouldn’t say that the Reps’ meeting was outrageously unique, structure complaints, next rally messages, next ball messages. The atmosphere did tense when we came onto AOB as Jon was under scrutiny for impolite behaviour via email. Chris made some valid points, I interjected with some comment and a what if which seemed to me vital; you’re doing silly games without a health form, its the most likely time for an accident to happen! But it picked up little reverence.

The Pub Crawl was fun, Paddies, Rascals, Weather Spoons, Varsity, Yellow, Academy and Skerries. I missed out ‘Le Glob’ because it was a predominantly Welsh Pub that deters non-welsh patrons, I might have some balls but not enough to go into a pub with a stigma of distaste for non-Welshmen. I don’t know how I did it but despite drinking in every pub I didn’t get drunk, tipsy perhaps but not slack jawed or slurry, I’d love to know how I did this as it will come in handy at similar festivities.

That night I sat out most of the Ceilidh opting to chat with those that I hadn’t been able to the night before and about the days occurrences. Then some interrelation work in the form of a game of spin the bottle which I instigated but didn’t partake, Emily complained later that I hadn’t 😉 but I thought it would be wrong to benefit from my own cheekiness. Oh and as this is a quasi public record I calm Best Man Benefits at all weddings proceeding from that event.

Sunday morning I was up and ready for breakfast at 7:30, I suppose this is partly to make up for when Dave, Matt and I went to the first Great Welsh Rally in Summer 2004 and slept in till Noon missing the trip to the Beach for which I am eternally regretful having glimpsed numerous pictures as I’ve crawled the club websites over the past year. Still waited for Breakfast and then the impending Exec Meeting of Doom, but due to certain leading members of the Exec sleeping in it didn’t start till 10am giving me a chance to take down my tent and strike my camp. It was lucky, the heavens opened some 30 minutes later!

The Exec meeting was long and arduous, I hated having to tip toe through it when a majority of misgivings rooted down to differing opinions or were exaggerated worries. I bet all the same concerns have been raised for past rallies and in recent memory none have failed to entertain but there have been problems, some preventable, some not.

Spent a few hours clearing up the buildings at the end of the day which helped to remind me of the connection between some names and faces.

I was shattered when I got home and was hoping Sarah didn’t have guests as they would see me in a state which can only be described as incongruous. Unfortunately she did and they bore witness my incongruity, took me about 24 hrs to get myself together.

All in all another title deserving Great Welsh Rally.

Film Review: Casino Royale

I’ve just been to see a special preview of the 21st Film in the Bond Franchise, Casino Royale. First and foremost Daniel Craig, yes he’s handsome, young but not too young, strong, virile and witty but he lacks the charm and charisma of previous (or future depending on your perspective) Bonds.

Don’t get me wrong, this is one of the better Bond films and certainly worth going to see at the cinema but it certainly isn’t the best. Its different approach to Bond, his reactions and the story whilst refreshing just seemed to drag down the pace we’re been accustomed to for the past 40 years. I mean no ‘Q’, No major gadgetry, no car chase what the hell happened? Okay they’ve shifted the original game from Baccarat to Texas Hold’em attributed to the recent development in Pop Culture so fellow gamblers empathise with the tension but it wasn’t enough to hold the film for me.

Special effects, as far as I could tell there weren’t any, so hurrah! The stunts looked real and from the glimpses I’ve seen on the television they were actually performed as opposed to using synthesbians.

All in all a good film, but if you were down to your last £10 and it came down to a choice between seeing this or getting a train ticket home I would get the train ticket. Worth a watch, perhaps a positive comment here or there but I’m not completely satisfied.

Film Review: Superman Returns – The IMAX Experience

On the doomed planet Krypton, a wise scientist placed his infant son into a spacecraft and launched him to Earth.

Raised by a kind farmer and his wife, the boy grew up to become our greatest protector… Superman.

But when astronomers discovered the distant remains of his home world, Superman Disappeared.

This was my second viewing of this slice of cinematic history, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the 3D effects though, either it was the glasses being bent out of shape, just plain ineffective or my position in the theatre but I really didn’t feel part of the film. Falling with the plane as Superman tries to correct it’s tail spin was completely wasted on me and it all as a bit of a blur.

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