Monday, 20 December 2010


And so it came to pass that "The House Of Mouse" took the request of a revisit to its much misunderstood film from 1982 and grant it a sequel. And lo, the decision was... good. Yes, you read that right, good.

This will of course depend alot on various matters, but chiefly on whether you've seen the original ground breaking but none-the-less audience splitting film nearly 20 years ago. Those of you that did will view this new chapter in a more positive light than those making their virginal steps into the grid.

A classic case of style over substance, TRON, unlike its same age brothers BLADE RUNNER and E.T., has not aged well and there lies part of the charm of LEGACY - visually and narratively, it stands head and shoulders above its roots. A son struggling for the approval of his work-driven father may not be a new storyline for audiences, but a familiar feel is the necessary guide for them as director Joseph Kosinski lets loose with a cyber city that seems to be only hindered by imagination and how tight all the outfits can be before they need to apply for an 18 certificate!

And strangely, that is part of the negative vibe directed towards TRON: Legacy - for once they continue to layer the plot to make it acceptable and believable when really all you crave for is more eye-popping battles on the gaming grid. Yes, there is not enough Light Cycles to quench the desire that the trailer created all those months ago. More action and less interaction is the cry from the auditorium seats.

Bridges has a ball playing/revisiting what seems to be his 2 greatest creations - Flynn now a near perfect (except for the mouth) CGI-rendered Clu made in his circa 1985 image, and believe it or not, The Dude himself (Lewboski) as Flynn now full of laid-back wonder and "whoa's."

Viewed in Imax 3D, it is a seamless delight where the sound (Daft Punk's score evokes Batman Begins memories) and the vision (Star Wars' A New Hope Millennium Falcon out running TIE Fighters gets HUGE nod) meld together to form a great way to see the year out cinema-wise and get the taste buds going for the rumoured parts 2 and 3. Let the games begin indeed.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010


So, 2010 draws to a close and before we look back at it how about looking for things that we would have paid money to see? If GLEE can do music mashup's, then why can't I for the silver screen....

The IN-Team
"If you have a problem and no one else can help, maybe you can dream up your own help..."
Leo DiCaprio gets lost in some ex-CIA's mind who wants to bring shame to the US military and his best mate Joseph Gordon-Levitt enlists the help of his uncle Liam Neeson who brings his hardened team into the dream scape for one last mission. He loves it when a dream comes together!

"It's not the last thing to go!"
When a freak accident involving a Pixar plane kills off all the heroes wearing capes, the major super villains decide to see who is the best/worst at ruling the world but aren't ready for the orphanage that opens up right on their Evil Headquarters door step... Saturday Night Live's Steve Carroll and Will Ferrell go head-to-head, with really large foreheads!

"Looks and laughter: forever after?"
A bored married couple are forced on the run when they steal a dinner reservation from a rouge secret agent who's trying to save the world and get his leg over some blond he met on a crashing plane. Hilarity ensues... Oh and a huge body count! Strangely Carrell and Fey play the dowdy pair and leave the beauty to Diaz and Cruise.

"Fella's...Where ARE we?"
A Boston badboy tries to break away from his criminal past but finds that the new town he moves to has a million bricks stolen and all eyes pointing towards him. Can he prove his innocence before his old crew - Horse, Cowboy and Indian - track him down for one last job? Affleck does everything, including the animation.

"You have to lose a million partners to stalk the one"
Social nerd misfit Jesse Cera-Berg loses his mind and retreats into a cyber fantasy world to prove that he can win the girl of his dreams, even though she didn't know he existed until he was mean to her - whilst alienating all that have hurt him before.

Matt Groeing directs the M. Night story of a has-been action robot from the 80's who calls in his pals - Metal Mickey, The Mash get SMASH robots, Twiki - all back together again to fight the elements that are causing them to rust - air, water, fire and such. The writers gave up about the same time I did!

Christmas Countdown

So, with that time of year fast approaching, how about something to make you think back on simpler and happier times whilst you worry about working out whether the turkey you bought will be big enough to feed everyone? So, as the King that (still) is John Cusack once said in "High Fidelity"..... Top Five all time:

1. Det. John McClane - Die Hard
2. Clark Griswold - National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
3. Jack Skellington - The Nightmare Before Christmas
4. George Bailey - It's A Wonderful Life
5. Ebenezer Scrooge - A Christmas Carol

Christmas presents
1. Cloak of invisibility - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
2. Gizmo the mogwai - Gremlins
3. Sledge called "Rosebud" - Citizen Kane
4. A full-sized heart - The Grinch
5. Santa's sleigh bell - The Polar Express

Christmas Santa's
1. Sir Richard Attenborough - Miracle On 34th Street
2. Tim Allen - The Santa Clause
3. Edward Ivory (voice of) - The Nightmare Before Christmas
4. Billy Bob Thornton - Bad Santa
5. David Huddleston - Santa Claus: The Movie

Christmas Songs
1. Christmas Is All Around - Love Actually
2. Christmas In Hollis - Die Hard
3. What's This? - A Nightmare Before Christmas
4. Put A Little Love In Your Heart - Scrooged
5. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! - Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Christmas kids
1. Kevin McCallaster - Home Alone
2. Susan Walker - Miracle On 34th Street
3. Buddy - ELF (technically he acts like a kid!)
4. Tiny Tim - The Muppet Christmas Carol
5. Cindy Lou Who - The Grinch

Christmas villains
1. Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) "SHOOT the GLASS!" - Die Hard
2. Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) "Call off Christmas" - Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves
3. Oogie Boggie Man "Are you a gambling man, Santa?" - The Nightmare Before Christmas
4. The Wet Bandits (Joe Pesci & Daniel Stern) "Maybe he committed suicide." - Home Alone
5. Grinch (Jim Carrey) "Hate, hate, hate. Double hate. LOATHE ENTIRELY!" - The Grinch

Christmas destinations
1. Christmas Town - The Nightmare Before Christmas
2. New York - Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
3. The North Pole - The Polar Express
4. Hogworts / Hogsmeade - Harry Potter franchise
5. Barrow, Alaska - 30 Days Of Night

Agree? Disagree? A subject I missed out?

Friday, 10 December 2010

AIRPLANE! 30th Anniversary Special Screening

"Airplane!... 30 years old?!? Surely you can't be serious?" "I am. And don't call me Shirley."

I will make no apologies for that, after all, as catch phrases go, that is up there in the all-time quotable comedy lines ever uttered. And of course, it was spoken with utter conviction by the man who sadly resides with us no longer - Leslie Nielsen, who for a generation will always be "that guy who was in the comedy films" and never realise the true surprise that the man who seriously acted his way through the likes of "Forbidden Planet" showed that he could deadpan like no other.

In a special screening (set up before Nielsen passed away) to celebrate the movie's 30th birthday in London, 2 of the 3 writers/directors - the Zucker Brothers - and a surprise guest of Robert Hays (the film's hero Ted Striker) joined a sold out performance of fans who appreciate THE best comedy film ever made. Sitting in with the audience watching and indeed laughing along with them to every joke that machine-gunned it's way across the screen, the 3 made their way up on stage afterwards to indulge in a little Q&A session to answer such questions as "who taught the old lady how to talk jive?"

What truly amazes is that the film is that old, and is still that good! The first really of its kind, it opened the flood gates for all manner of imitators, both good and bad. For every "Naked Gun" we were delivered we were unfortunately asked to also sign up for the likes of "Not Another Teen Movie," "Scary Movie," and "Superhero." Here though the jokes are all centered around the characters and their plight rather than the scatter-shot method of late of taking anything popular and making the mick out of it just for the sake of a possible laugh. Good comedy is hard but even harder is long life comedy - one that will make audiences laugh no matter how far down the line they are watching it. "Airplane!" will always make people laugh even if the level of what's right and wrong has changed. Seriously, can you imagine a comedy now involving a man asking a child if he's "ever seen a grown man naked?" It wouldn't get past the censors!

As a tribute to both Robert Stack and Leslie Nielsen who now look down from up above Flight 209-er to Chicago, dig out a copy of the greatest comedy ever made and treat yourself. Good luck, we're all counting on you!

Monday, 6 December 2010


OK, so it's strictly not a movie, but it's origins started out that way. Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist) originally had this graphic novel pegged as a movie but, thank the heavens, it was turned into a series. The scope from Robert Kirkman's still-continuing graphic novel is immense and with it celebrating it's 13th volume, there is far too much to try and cram into a 2 hour film adaptation.

First time viewers may be forgiven for thinking it just another "28 DAYS LATER" rip-off when we're introduced to the zombie-like plague through the confused eyes of Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who wakes up from a bullet-induced coma to find that the world he knows has gone well and truly down the bedpan. However, what all zombie outings do is deal with a group of people struggling to survive and then it ends with the few survivors heading out of a scrape only to into another scrape. The Walking Dead rolls it's sleeves up and asks exactly what happens to people who survive the outbreak but find themselves in a place where society and it's rules no longer are relevant - it's not just surviving flesh-eating parasites, but surviving from lack of sleep, food, communication, comforts and hope... this is strong stuff indeed!

Recent fare has lifted the zombie experience from the dolldrums - "ZOMBIELAND" "28 DAYS LATER" to name a few - and The Walking Dead takes that torch and runs with it. The dead seem to have different speeds depending on what state their festering bodies are in; some shuffle and some are much quicker, and more deadly...especially when in numbers and all riled up!

It's a short first season (6 episodes only) that right from the get-go decides to not scrimp on the realities of a plague or it's consequences. SPOILER ALERT! The opening scene of Rick shooting a zombie'd little girl sets the tone - this isn't gonna be a pleasant trip but it's all the much better for that attitude. It gives you people that are real and handling the chaos in varied ways and when the rug is pulled out from the viewer with unexpected deaths, you feel it rather than uttering the "I knew they'd die" kind of dialogue. You want these people to survive through the attacks from outside and inside their ranks - even the more dislikable ones (small mindedness, racism, abusive partners still exist even if normal society doesn't!).

With a second season already grrenlit, the way forward can only be upward for one of the best drama's to grace the small screen since "BSG" bowed out. Due to air soon in this country, get on the wagon before it becomes a bandwagon and remember, the dead are walking.

UK release date: airs Fridays on FX channel
Certificate: N/A

Friday, 3 December 2010


There are movies that will split audiences down the middle... and MONSTERS will undoubtedly be one of them. Many people will go and see this due to the very clever advertising campaign that has heralded it's arrival. And alot of them will probably feel like that they've been cheated somewhat.

You see, MONSTERS is a film that is technically outstanding and if you know the history of it and how it was made, you will leave the cinema with a sense of wonder and a level of appreciation that you wouldn't otherwise have had. Shot on location ad hoc on one digital camcorder with only 2 actors - the photo journalist Scoot McNairy charged with getting his boss' daughter out of the infected Mexico, Whitney Able - it is a one-man leviathan of first time director Gareth Edwards. Written, shot and CGI'd on his home computer, his MONSTERS is a a beautiful two fingers to the mass-produced fare that normally dominates the multi-plexes. It can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them but what it doesn't do is deliver the goods when it comes to the hopes and desires of modern audiences that crave action, horror and thrills and scares.

Instead what we are presented with is that rare beast - characterisation and development. The real life couple bring a reality to the two individuals that are thrust together under harsh circumstances - the scene of a drunken McNairy trying to romance Able in her hotel doorway is cringingly delightful - with them thrown in amongst people who have never acted before hampering and helping them in their journey in equal measures.

If you're expecting a "CLOVERFIELD" type affair with attacks and huge CGI'd moments, then MONSTERS is not for you... at all. You will leave feeling cheated. However, if you are willing to watch a grounded journey of two people that begin to need each other amongst illegal aliens (real ones, not Mexican ones) then give it a go.

Do pay attention to the beginning moments of the film and bring them to the front of your mind during the final moments of the film and see what connection you form!

UK release date: 03/12/10
Certificate: 12A

Friday, 26 November 2010


Think back before Pixar unleashed "Toy Story" on the world... if you can then you can remember a time where The House Of Mouse had lost its way and any form of animation was immediately consigned to the small people with no taste or standards.

Since then every production company has strived to match the high levels of Pixar's output and thankfully for punters some have risen to the challenge - think "How To Train Your Dragon" and the first "Shrek." Now get ready to add DreamWorks' latest because "Megamind" is... mega!

The plot may eat away at the back of your mind as faimilar - a baddie who turns out to not be such a bad guy after all - but DreamWorks moves away from the similarily themed "Despicable Me" and gets the hero/villian set-up out of the way in less than 10 minutes flat. If you think you've seen the whole movie from the trailer, thankfully for once you're wrong! All that they show in the trailer is delivered upon the screen before 15 minutes have passed and the rest of the film is a delightful surprise.

Will Farrell (Megamind) finally delivers on his Saturday Night Live promises and whacks home all his one-liners unlike his recent "The Other Guys" and Brad Pitt becomes the teeth-glinting hero that all women believe he is (and in hushed whispers, many men as well.) From the play on the baby-sent-from-a-dying-planet intro (superb Superman rift) to the hero-wannabe turned nitemare to the city (The Incredibles), it delivers a fresh slant on the expected turn of events keeping things, even if predictable, fun enough to forgive/ignore.

What we have here is a film that audiences now look for in a "family film" - pratt falls for the younger members and sly in-jokes for their accompanying older ticket payers. Plus a kicking soundtrack that shows that "Ironman" doesn't have the sole ownership on AC-DC tracks. Great fun and even greater in 3D - Megamind for Mayor!

UK release date: 26/11/10
Certificate: PG

Sunday, 21 November 2010


9 years ago, the world unwittingly gave one small-time English author and one large American movie company the right to play with their emotions and rule their Winter schedules for the next 10 years... yep, 20
01 saw the first year exploits of a young Harry Potter enter into the world of wonder, witchcraft and wizardy with "The Philospher's Stone."

And now, finally it's the beginning of the end as we, along with most of the world, see Harry, Hermonie and Ron make the last stand against "He Who Must Not Be Named" - Lord Voldermort in an 147 minute cliff hanger that won't be resolved until Summer next year. So, if the "smack your forehead in frustration" endings of "The Empire Strikes Back" and "The Fellowship Of The Ring" did your head in then be prepared because this one is a doozy!

Starting off without a recap (true fans shouldn't dare look for a "previously on Harry Potter...) Director David Yates continues on his quest to bring the franchise trembling into the world of darker terrority and, with the help of the depressingly-somber source material, he pulls it off effortlessly. What starts out full of humour and nice references to the under currents of love and lust between the hormonal Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermonie turns into a protracted chase movie with the 3 characters forced to leave Hogworts and take to the open road to stay alive by avoiding the cream of English baddie actors.

And the good news is that those who have grown up with the exploits are rewarded with the delight that the "child" actors have risen to the ranks of their adult counterparts. Yes, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and especially Rupert Grint can stand proud next to the regular delights of Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman, which is necessary as most of the movie hangs on their shoulders as they fight amongst themselves in various depressing English landscapes trying to locate Voldermort's horcruxes.

Finally, for our loyality over the last decade, the effects, the acting and the necessary but still none-the-less painful omissions from the books have culminated in a worthy beginning of the final bow to the boy that lived. Exciting, elequant and energetic - Harry's coming home!

UK release date: 19/11/10
Certificate: 12A

Friday, 12 November 2010


Like buses, Hollywood movie ideas come in groups. Beating the COMIC CON-audience wowing trailer "Battlefield Los Angles" by a good few months, SKYLINE is the first "bad aliens" flick out of the gate.

On paper, SKYLINE must have sounded like a sure-fire hit: a world changing event seen from the POV from the little people, not unlike CLOVERFIELD. Also, with a cast of at-best, hopeful wanna-be B-list actors, the audience will constantly be guessing who will survive the ordeal of a planet being attacked from up above. Unfortunately the ordeal is watching the recognisable bit-actors from "24" "Dexter" and "Scrubs" bumble along in a movie that pays attention to how it looks up on the screen rather than how it comes across to the viewers. People are taken, then saved, then taken again so many times that you just don't care about their struggle anymore - and for a survival movie at heart, that's not a good way to go. You need to care and root for them but with the script continually throwing the same "argh!" scenes over and over the mind and emotions are disengaged and you find yourself hoping to see the bright light at the end of the tunnel just like the cast - except yours is the cinema lights coming up.

What you essentially have here is a squandered idea that could have been so much better. With aliens not unlike Spielberg's "WAR OF THE WORLDS" you can't help but wish that the premise landed on someone else's table - Roland Emmerich, Spielberg, heck even Tony Scott would have had a better stab at blending characters that you need to survive with high octane thrills as fighter craft battle overhead against superior firepower.

Never one to ruin an ending, all I can say that The Brothers Strause's approach to their finale is a truly brave piece of movie-making... one that should definately give pause for thought before anyone hires then for another project. To do an ending in the style of "SPIDERMAN's" opening title sequences, and quite an "out there" ending, truly beggers belief! Crazy times!

UK release date: 12/11/10
Certificate: 15

Saturday, 6 November 2010


And so Hollywood, or more rightly the movie media, continue to label things as "...the next (insert last big film hit here)..." and so here we have "the next The Hangover..."

Go-to-guy for comedy since his stellar hit The Hangover Todd Phillips, returns with what can only be described as an edgy modern take on a classic comedy - Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Robert Downey Jr takes the "straight man under pressure" role played by Steve Martin against the force of nature Zach Galifanakas once inhabited by the late John Candy.

Now, depending on why you sit down to watch it will determine your overall feeling of whether it was worth it. This is no the Hangover - not by a long shot. The characters are thrown together through circumstance and thats exactly how it comes across - abit far-fetched and sometimes forced, but thankfully there is enough comedy to gloss over that fact. Especially when the script calls for gross-out gags rather than just plain laugh-out-loud humour. Now, if you're watching it because you know of the Martin/Candy classic and you wanna see if there is such a thing as a good remake/rip-off, then you'll find yourself reminiscing about it throughout Due Date's running time.

Like your worst fear, most of the best bits have been cobbled together for the trailer but there are still laughs to be had - a masturbating dog and its owner in particular are stand-out - but there are some mis-fires and unusual plot sequences that just don't seem to sit well with the story (a visit to a friend's house and the question of infidelity are levered in then promptly dismissed).

Downey Jr. though is still a sight for sore eyes and a great actor and delivers despite having to play the snooty ass that learns to relax alittle and quirky Galifanakis doesn't work as well as he did in his breakout part in The Hangover with only one person to bounce off of but this is still better placed for your time, commitment and money rather than previous comedy outings - The other Guys, Dinner For Schmucks etc.

UK release date: 05/11/10
Certificate: 15

Friday, 8 October 2010


The medium of the moving image has allowed anyone with an idea and courage to express themselves and speak to anyone who will listen... even the weird ones!

"A Town Called Panic" is either going to be one of your instant fave films of all time OR an incomprehensible mess that will leave you headachey and bemused. One quick way to work out what camp you may settle in is ask yourself one question: do you like the Cravendale milk adverts with the crazy cow and no dialogue? If yes, then continue reading!

Directors/animators/screenwriters Vincent Patar and Stephane Aubier take the simplest story - what do you get as a birthday present for a friend that you nearly forgot about - and demand that you leave all sense behind whilst they strap electrodes to you and zap you into submission. The friend is a horse called Horse (the sensible one) and the forgetful mates are an indian called Indian (the one with half a brain) and a cowboy called... you get the picture!

The jerky animation compliments the frenetic energy perfectly and where it doesn't even deserve to look through Pixar's trash cans concerning the believable visuals, it stands head and shoulders above them for sheer lunacy and fantastic leaps of faith and ideas that appear in its short 78 minutes running time. If it were any longer you would surely need to go and lie down afterwards.

You have underwater people who have the same problems as us - where do you get the materials from to build a home for yourself; the largest mechanical penguin EVER constructed that launches the perfect snowball; a surprising solution to where you hide 500 million bricks ordered through the internet - this is the equivalent of the mad Looney Tunes cartoons but with a decidedly mad European twist to it.

Seriously, give it a go and then find yourself smirking everytime a milk advert comes on your TV - what is there to lose?

UK release date: 08/10/10
Certificate: PG
A Town Called Panic is now available on DVD.

Saturday, 11 September 2010


It has been whispered in discreet circles, very, very quietly, that the Resident Evil franchise films are a guilty pleasure... all respectable critics will look down their noses at them and only sad, geeky non-girlfriend teens will fork out money to see the continuing saga of Alice (Milla Jojivich) vs. the evil Umbrella Corporation based on the ever popular games institution.

Well, I admit that I originally loved the first Resident Evil films and so did enough people because despite the apathy directed towards them from the "critics" the world has now been presented with the fourth film in the series!

The original man behind the idea - W.S. Anderson - has returned to behind-the-camera duties as well as producing after relegating himself to "producer/writer" for part's two and three (Resident Evil: Apocalypse ) but unfortunately this time he hasn't brought with him the spark that made the original outing a discreet cult classic.

What we have is a movie that feels hacked to death to achieve it's incredibly short 93 minutes running time and a feeling that the original cut would have at least put some meat-on-the-bones that explains the incredible jumps in plot and dialogue that take place.

Despite the added attraction of 3D, this only goes to help the case of the people who say that here is a franchaise that never should have made it past the first outing. I never thought I'd say it about one of my guilty pleasures, but, yes, it is time to store it away and only look back at it with rose-tinted glasses and the folly of youth. R.I.P. Resident Evil.

UK release date: 10/09/10
Certificate: 15