Believing the Fantastical

After spending Easter Sunday Dinner with my Grandparents I’ve come up with a new idea for a Bucket list item.

Arrived to start chatting about the latest family developments. Since I brought Oscar I took him for a walk along the creek to recheck his stomping grounds. Returned to a cup of tea which lead into fixing a computer and installing some software. Bit of heavily lifting later and concluded with dinner made for a welcome rest. Following dinner, sitting in the lounge chatting, listening to their stories and checking BBC News we flicked over to watch Loch Ness (1996).

As a boy I toured Scotland camping and caravaning seeing bits and pieces with the family but never seen or stayed near enough to see Loch Ness. During the film when a familiar scene showed we’d diverge onto anecdotes regarding their visits including mentions about their dog Tinker.

With a little after thought I’ve decided I want to stay at one of the (probably ridiculously overpriced) Bed & Breakfasts in the area (ideally the Moffat Arms). This is a typical reaction to seeing the movie I’d reason but a followup thought to this, unique to me and this visit are the stories I’ve heard during.

In addition to this visit I’d like ask the locals about their stories, not really to hear the vastly over exaggerated tourist tales but to see the expression on the faces of the people telling the story. I’m hoping that eventually someone will tell earnest stories with wonder of the magic and mystery of the loch.

Sure we live in the Age of Information where rational thought and empirical data rules but there must still be some fellow daydreamers, imagineers or fantasists up there who whilst accept that a Nessie or Kelpy probably doesn’t exist it would be rekindle that childhood belief of extraordinary possibility that so many have forgot.

Film Review: Blindness (2008)

Blindness, directed by Fernando Meirelles and Screenwritten by Don McKellar is a great film, not flashy or gordy but well penned and well told. Based on the 1995 novel by José Saramago, it’s story of epidemic blindness infecting the globe and the consequences of a lone individual retaining her sight.

I’m quite proud of the author wanting the film to maintain a strong allusion to the novel; he was “suspicious of the film industry and had therefore resisted other studios’ efforts to obtain the rights through large sums of money alone“. I hole heartedly agree with him on this, so often studios take something that is great on novel format and dumb it down thus casting a wider net for audiences in attempt to make as much money as possible. There are some books that this isn’t as much of a problem, JK Rowling for instance wanted the Harry Potter films to be enjoyable to watch by sacrificing parts certain plot lines but enforcing others (such as Kreacher in Order of the Phoenix).

The characters have no names, no history, focusing your attention on their actions to the situation at hand. You feel the burden of the Sighted Character’s dilemma and her internal struggle as greed and the lust for power festers. Her optimism is constantly tested as she literally watched the indignity and moral decline of those in her stead and her willingness to submit to it herself.

My personal reflection after taking in the behaviour of the devious blinded by the sickness it amplifies how bad things really could get if the protagonist hadn’t been so kind. Indeed even the sighted’s wardrobe tried to personify her angelic behaviour.

I don’t mind scary movies, I usually laugh at them, but this is by far the scariest film I have reviewed in recent history, not because of my fear of losing my sight but the decline of humanity when everyone is in such a dire situation. I hope that if a disaster does strike (and if Nostradamous predicted highly it may do so in December 2012) that communities will form rather than gangs, but alas nature is survival of the fittest, and the best fit is usually the strongest.

Unfortunately this film on condemned by the Blind Community for suggesting that “Blind people do not behave like uncivilized, animalized creatures“, I certainly don’t think they do. I think that the Human Race can in an anarchical world behave badly, and unfortunately, the pre-White-Sickness-blind fall into that category. Luckily the author José Saramago responds: “Stupidity doesn’t choose between the blind and the non-blind”, he’s quite right, anyone can jump to wrong conclusions, Just because it involves a topic doesn’t necessarily mean its about it.

Cracking film. But be warned there are some graphic scenes.

  • Picture: 8/10
  • Sound: 8/10
  • Effects: N/A
  • Story: 9.5/10

Film Season 2009 is here, part 3

Here we are approaching the end of this summery season of films, for those needing a recap part one highlighted the top films out each week in may and part two highlighted most of June and now we’ll round up with July.

19th June – Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen Film Poster

I was in awe of the first Transformers Movie, with 15 years of speculation I expected a lot and I wasn’t disappointed. (Although I apologise for the poor quality of that ‘review’ I had only just got back from the World Scout Jamboree, still neat little wallpaper by me). With any film great enough to warrant a sequel you don’t often get a better product hopefully at an epic 150 minutes long we’ll have a large quantity of quality to satisfy our appetite for a spectacular autonomous film.

26th June – Year one

Year One, Jack Black, Michael Cera, Film Poster

Hopefully the bullet dodged by Angels & Demons won’t ricochet and hit this gem. This film follows 2 Neanderthals as they search for purpose in their lives by travelling the world in biblical times. Hopefully something intend as a fun family film won’t be slated just because Moses

Harold Ramis and Judd Apatow (Freaks’n’Geeks,Knocked Up) should in theory make an excellent film, and with Jack Black dishing the jokes and Michael Cera lapping them up I can’t see why it won’t be great.

1st July – Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age 3 Dawn Of The Dinosaurs Film Poster

There have been so many entertaining computer generated films I’d be hard pressed to rank my favourites, the Toy Story films would be at the top and probably a few others underneath them I’ve place the Ice Age films. I never felt they were entirely aimed at Kids unlike most other CG films although they all usually have some adult jokes thrown in I feel these were films for films sake rather than films for kids. Either way I’m going to enjoy watching Diego and Sid getting upto some new antics.

10th July – Bruno

Bruno Film Poster

Ali G didn’t help society in the nineties, most people thought what he was doing; mocking policemen, speaking incorrectly and sensationalizing drug abuse was ‘cool’ and those not already doing it copied him to also be ‘cool’. It’s surprising how many people today realise that he was actually mocking the type of people he was impersonating, those the slung their fingers around where all victims of one of the largest practical jokes of all time, which is hilarious to those that didn’t join in. Years later Borat was released and very few, if any epitomized his character, was it because his character was portrayed daft and they didn’t want to be thought of similarly or was it because kids of the same age got the joke? Either way Bruno has some interesting character exaggerations

15th July – Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince Film Poster

I can’t remember when, where or with who I saw the first 4 Harry Potter films but I absolutely remember how I saw Order of the Phoenix. It was at a world Scout Jamboree Build weekend, I’d gone with a Go Jamboree crew to spend 6-8 hours putting up tents, I particularly remember the chain of people across a large field passing out poles for each tent…I digress. In the evening myself and about a dozen other people bundled into our cars and head to the nearest cinema still in Scouting (and Guiding) garb. It was interesting to see the rest of the audiences reactions. Now 2 years later I will be going away again with some of the same people and some new ones to work upon another campsite for far less grander reasons but for just as much fun. Then in the evening we’ll be going again. Hopefully I’ll get to do the same thing for the final two parts of Deathly Hallows aswell!

That just about rounds up all the summer films I’ve had my eye on since January, the dates have changed around a bit but they are mostly all there. I only really have my eye on one film before autumn and thats G-Force so for me this season of film is over. Certainly been fun through writing on a theme over several posts, I’m probably going to do this again which means I’m going to need a better system for linking post series, but that’s what all this site is about, trying new things!

All release dates are UK based, they may vary in your country.

Film Review: Night At The Museum 2

I really enjoyed the first Night at the Museum. To anthropermophise inanimate objects like statues and exhibits and see them interact as what they embody is hilarious. How would cowboys who are often depicted operating solo cooperate with Roman infantry who function as teams; The perfect situation for comedy!

The story: The Night guard Larry Daley has left the museum and started a company selling his inventions such as the glow in the dark flashlight (torch to you and me), the museum has lost the attraction of the public and is being updated with technological aids, such as holograms, to make it interesting once again. For this the exhibits have to move and the tablet of Akmunrah with them, not prepared for the calamity that will ensue Larry tries to stop it. On the first night in their new homes on of the Pharaoh Kamunrah tries to takeover and Jedimiah the cowboy calls Larry for help.

With such high standards set in the first film any sequel is likely to be cursed with what happens to most; it tanks. For me the subtitle “Battle of the Smithsonian” is misleading, I imagined all the exhibits in the Smithsonians 19 museums to come alive and face each other in a slapstick engagement. What we end up seeing really is several new characters alongside many of the old ones.

Night At The Museum 2 Cowboys And Romans

Don’t get me wrong here, the film was executed beautifully, the animation was vivid and blended, the story just interesting enough and good acting all round. The gags come thick and fast, blowing away the expectation on jokes dug up from the dirt and tried on something new, they makers kept it fresh.

I’m not usually one to enjoy Ben Stiller Movies (and I’m not the only one) because of his insistence on playing OTT characters, but when he does play ‘ordinary’ people as Mosh puts it I quite like them.

Night at the Museum 2: Amy Adams as Amelia Earhart

Something I didn’t like very much was that Amelia Earhart was portrayed as alone in her flight, she was navigated by Fred Noonan, where was he? I’m not trying to undermine her accomplishments, but Neil Armstrong wasn’t alone getting to the Moon, the often remembered Buzz Aldrin landed in the Lunar module as well and the seldom remembered Michael Collins orbited just above in the Command module. And even then there are hundreds/thousands of unseen and unsung people that helped and planned the Apollo 11 mission.

Sailor Kissing Girl In Times Square V Day

There were some really great sequences in the film such as when they dived into the photograph Sailor Kissing Girl in Times Square (by Alfred Eisenstaedt), seeing all the celebrations and their reactions to the out of place Night guard, Aviatrix and their attire. (P.S. Keep watching the credits for more on this 😉 ). The octopus was a great creation (and I’m not making this up like The Goonies did) although I was expecting it to be ferocious rather than angry.

Summery: you don’t need to have seen the first one to watch this, it is a great movie to chill out with or to entertain the kids with and very few should be disappointed.

  • Picture: 8/10
  • Sound: 8/10
  • Effects: 9/10
  • Story: 8/10

Film Season 2009 is here, part 2

This is the second part of 3 of the incredibly long season of film 2009, you can catch the first part here. These are all good films but with the exception of Terminator if they came out the same week as any last month they would get top billing from me here. All this being said Universities and some schools are breaking up for bit so there should be more people available to go seem them. I guess we’ll see in the end of the summer film rankings.

29th May – UP

Up Pixar Film Poster

Unlike the other big family film this season (Coraline) there isn’t another big hitting film like Star Trek trumping its place in the charts. I hope children today appreciate how spoiled they are with regard to entertainment these days, when I was little film-makers dreamed of making a feature length stop motion or CGI production, nowadays its a common occurrence.

Up is the endearing tale about a Grandpa who wants to see the world and by using what he did for living as a balloon seller is able to attach enough balloons to his house and float away unwittingly taking a chubby 8 year old along for the ride!

Lefts hope the boys (and girls) at Pixar haven’t popped under the pressure of living up to there reputation.

5th June – Terminator: Salvation

Terminator Salvation Film Poster

In the beginning there was one Terminator, when preventing the first judgement day there were 2, when the second judgement day came there were 2 and their creator and now John Connor and the human race are up against an entire army of murderous machines.

I remember the first time I saw the 1984 original, sure the stop motion animation of the endoskeleton was a bit corny but the idea was a frightening one, hunted by a machine that would never sleep, would never rest and whose sole intention was to wipe you out for something you hadn’t done yet! T2: Judgement Day is the mother of all sequels, the bad guy was just as ruthless and still better than the protagonists protector.

Technology certainly improved, as already mentioned the first metal skeleton was stop motion models, in T2 there was some CGI but the T1000 death was still drawn frame by frame as computers couldn’t morph the liquid metal appearance. And when the Machines rose it was a combination of the two.

If you haven’t gotten what I’m hinting at yet then here it is, the Terminators films are great and have gotten better in terms of action, content and effects. I doubt T4 will be the one to break the mould.

12th June – The Hangover

The Hangover Film Poster

When “What happens in Vegas” and “Bachelor Party” are taken what are you going to call a film centred around the aftermath of a Stag-do in Las Vegas? Its another one of those post modern slap stick comedies for the audience of new dating relationships, the ones where you have compromise to a very mid-line film for fear of alienating the person you’ve recently charmed. Last weeks Terminator is too boyish and Up has a cinema filled with children so cuddling is a little in appropriate.

I would choose to watch it, I wouldn’t choose to pay £6.80 to watch it at the cinema when a much much better film is coming out next week. I imagine it’ll be a very enjoyable film to watch, Bradley cooper has never disappointed and Heather Graham is very elegant with comedy. Guess we’ll have to wait and find out!

All release dates are UK based, they may vary in your country.

Film Review: Angels & Demons

Angels and Demons Half Angel, Half Demon Statue Wallpaper

Angels & Demons was regarded by the Vatican as harmless, unlike the Da Vinci Code which jabbed at the righteousness of the Church. What I do find shocking is that whilst Catholics, or generally those of the Christian persuasion get in an uproar about their religion being badmouthed Scientists haven’t been outraged (as far as I know) about the potential dangers of Antimatter and the Science Fiction surrounding its use for nefarious purposes in this film. If I were to play devils advocate I would say that maybe Science doesn’t need defending because its right and religion is just mumbo-jumbo but I know that to be mostly wrong, those with religion keep it very close to their heart and as such its easy to bruise both at the same time. Still, maybe if there wasn’t a kerfuffle at every little bruise then the world wouldn’t have seen so many wars and would be a happier place, I digress.

Summary: An ancient secret society called the Illuminati steals the antimatter created a CERN and hides it Vatican City. Its container will fail in 24 hours causing an enormous explosion, with the Pope having recently died, the four Preferiti missing and the papal conclave in progress with the highest order of Cardinals in attendance the entirety of the catholic church is in Danger. To track down the Illuminati Robert Langdon is summoned to follow the Path of Illumination to the societies secret meeting place hopefully where the bomb can be found and the antimatter contained.

I enjoyed the Da Vinci code for its fast paced adventure and the educational parts, which is why I didn’t enjoy Angels and Demons as much. Dan Brown’s (quoted below) thrillers are written to interest and entertain which is why I’m surprised the dynamic of the film changed so much. If they are going to make a third around 2012 I hope that as a compromise they render the plot somewhere between outrage and bland rather than toward the extremes where I feel they’ve played so far.

“My goal is always to make the character’s and plot be so engaging that readers don’t realize how much they are learning along the way.”

The writers and director most likely scaled back the religious intrigue and subsequently the characters. Watching Tom Hanks’ port ail of Robert Langdon I felt for the entire film that he was holding back for something, I continued to sit on the edge of my seat taking note of each Chekhov gun waiting for all or many of them to be explained beautifully with illustrations, alas it never happened. Coincidently I feel guilty for Ayelet Zurer whom didn’t have much dialogue to work with unlike Audrey Tautou’s Sophie Neveu whom Langdon conversed with often.

As a standalone movie I enjoyed watching this quest but when compared to the sight, sound and experience to the The Da Vinci Code (2006) I find it vanilla. Take the soundtrack for example, in the first film the sound rose from your toes all the way to your ears, especially the part called Chevaliers De Sangreal played whilst by the Tomb interred by a pope, whereas the soundtrack doesn’t enhance A&D it is a mellow accompaniment.

The small and medium visual and special effects where well concealed, but the larger stunts, particularly the ones to risky for a actor to perform where of a similar quality to the Matrix fight scenes from 10 years ago which were the peak of their time, surely they can be outdone now.

Perhaps this is a trend we can come to expect from sequels, Quantum of Solace was similarly inoffensive compared to Casino Royale but then again The Dark Knight surpassed Batman Begins greatly. Despite all this I recommend paying out to see this at the cinema but if you’re only going to see 3 movies I’ve see Star Trek, Transformers 2 and Harry Potter.

  • Picture: 9/10
  • Sound: 6/10
  • Effects: 8/10
  • Story: 7/10