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