Sunday, 30 September 2012

Film Review: Looper

Gordon-Levitt and Willis get down to business

The sci-fiction genre has taken something of a battering in recent times; whilst films like Source Code, Inception and Moon have injected some degree of success and acclaim, others have lowered expectations and standards; think Battle: Los Angeles, Transformers and Battleship

Along then, comes Looper, a new science-fiction film from director Rian Johnson, looking to reboot the genre with a winning combination of intelligence, action and thought. And boy, does it deliver.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

5 Films Still To Come In 2012

Now that big blockbuster season has wrapped up for another year, you may be thinking to yourself, what else is there to look forward to? Well, fear not people, there is still a quality line-up of Hollywood's finest on its way, ready to garner your attention at the box office. Here's my pick of the biggest films still to come in 2012. Let me know in the comments below what your most excited for! 

Looper - Out Now

Looper is the hotly anticipated time-bending sci-fi action-thriller from director Rian Johnson, starring the 'so-hot-right-now' Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as the same person. Yep, both Gordon-Levitt and Willis play present and future versions of the same character, caught in a battle of wits after the latter is sent back from the future to be killed by the former, thus being eradicated from the future in the past. Sound confusing? Possibly. Sound awesome? Definitely.

Looper has already garnered glowing reviews from Empire, Total Film and a whole host of others so my expectations are pretty high for this one. Check back for my review some time in the next week!

Lawless - October 11th

Set in Depression-era America, grisly gangster drama Lawless stars big stars like Shia La Beouf, Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. 

Much like Looper, Lawless has been getting some good reviews for its acting talent (notably Hardy) and looks to breathe new life into the gangster genre.

Expect tommy-guns, Model T's and moonshine aplenty. But definitely  not any kids with custard-guns; Bugsy Malone this ain't.

Frankenweenie - October 25th

Hot off the heels of Dark Shadows, Tim Burton is back with another gloomy and gothic story, Frankenweenie. 

Based on a short Burton originally made back in the 80's, Frankenweenie tells the story of Victor, a young scientist who brings his dog Sparky back to life Franken-style.

With regulars Christopher Lee and Danny Elfman on board, expect nothing but Burton at his kooky best.

Skyfall - November 22nd

Daniel Craig returns to the infamous role of 007 in the hotly anticipated Skyfall.

Celebrating 50 years since the franchise's début with Dr No., Skyfall is expected to be a hark back to the golden era of Bond films with many classic staples included; Aston Martins, Q, Martinis, sultry Bond girls and exotic locales.

In this instalment, Bond's loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. Bring it on.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - December 26th

Peter Jackson returns to the far off realm of Middle Earth in the first of the a trilogy adapting J.R.R Tolkein's classic novel. A prequel to the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, expect Jackson's films to be intricately scripted, carefully sculpted and beautifully shot. 

Martin Freeman plays Bilbo Baggins, a role he was born to fill in my mind. Add to this a troupe of rag-tag dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Amritage) and a whole host of returnees such as Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond and Andy Serkis as Gollum and we're all in for a magical treat this Boxing Day. All together now, "one ring to rule them all..."

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The xx - Coexist

The Mercury award winning trio return with the sophomore album, Coexist, retaining their distinctive blend of chilled synths, low-key beats and hushed vocals. 

The xx's debut album (entitled 'xx') landed in 2009 to almost universal acclaim; the understated and dulcet tones of Romy Madley-Croft winning the band plaudits from magazines like the NME and eventually winning the Mercury Music Prize.

Following in the footsteps of other big name British artists like Primal Scream, Klaxons, Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand, The xx have had pretty high expectations going to into their second record. So whilst Coexist doesn't surpass it's predecessor, it certainly doesn't fail to match it.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Voice of Reason #5: Forming the Justice League

Would a Justice League film ever match the might of the Avengers?

Let's face it; the success of The Avengers took us all by surprise. We all knew it was going to be big; maybe 600, maybe 700 million dollars big, but not 1.5 billion dollars big. Not only did The Avengers topple the previous comic-book movie milestone that is The Dark Knight but the combined weight of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye defeated Autobots, wizards, Hobbits, Pirates and Jedis - it is now the third highest grossing film of all time behind Titanic and Avatar.

Needless to say, this caught the attention of some big-wigs over at DC Comics; since the Avengers premièred in cinemas in April, there has been increasing speculation that DC will follow suit and put together a silver-screen mish-mash of their premier superheroes by Summer 2015, right alongside the planned release date for The Avengers 2. Talk about jumping on the bandwagon! The thing is there are a multitude of reasons why DC wouldn't be able to pull this off. Firstly, they need foresight.

One of the best things about the Avengers was the way in which Marvel had planned it out over as long as they had; laying the foundations back in 2008 with The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, Marvel played the long game. A side-reference here, a Tony Stark/Nick Fury cameo there, the universe in which Marvel's Avengers resided was interconnected and steadily built upon, layer upon layer.

After Iron Man, Marvel took the time to give Thor and Captain America their introductions. It didn't feel rushed or messy. On the other hand, a Justice League movie would be the complete opposite of this. 2015 is less than 3 years away and DC have little to no framework around which to build a Justice League film. Since The Dark Knight trilogy literally just wrapped up, DC haven't had time to give Christopher Nolan's Batman any no inter-linking nature with either Ryan Reynold's piss-poor Green Lantern outing nor Zac Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel reboot. There is no inter-weaving narrative, no acknowledgement of a wider universe.

2011's Green Lantern movie
For a successful Justice League movie, DC would need to get all of their character's on the same page as Marvel did with the Avengers.Not only would this mean formulating successful origin stories for Wonder Woman and The Flash but also rebooting Batman and Green Lantern.

And with Batman literally having just hung up the cape and cowl, it is hard to imagine anyone relishing the prospect of a entirely new reboot for the World's Greatest Detective. No-one wants to see "Batman Begins Again" (working title), especially after Nolan, Bale and co. knocked it out of the park. Seriously people, let the poor guy take a break - he broke his back making that last movie!

Likewise, it'd be hard to find many people chomping at the bit for a re-boot of Green Lantern so soon. Superhero movie saturation is becoming a serious issue and too many reboots makes the genre a borderline joke.

Another thing DC would need to work on before a Justice League movie would be introducing Wonder Woman and The Flash with their own respective films. The former in particular has been a title touted for a while. Could DC make these two work? Maybe. Maybe not. Wonder Woman would face the task of trying to become cinema's first successful female superhero - Catwoman and Elektra really failing to hit the mark. Meanwhile, The Flash (as a concept) would be a really hard character to ground in reality given his ability of running really really really fast. Whilst Batman has the possibility to be grounded in reality (as The Dark Knight trilogy showed us), I can't see audiences siding with a high-concept character such as The Flash.

So whilst the idea of a Justice League movie has been the talk of the town in recent months, I don't buy into it. If DC didn't have the foresight to get all their ideas on the same page then that's too bad for them. Unfortunately for them, Marvel have already got their towel on the "superhero ensemble movie" sun-lounger.

What do you think? Would you watch a Justice League movie?

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Voice of Reason #4: Brits Do It Better

E4's The Inbetweeners

America. Land of the free, home of liberty, justice and apple pie. All that stuff. Oh, and the home of crappy British television remakes. It's no secret that American networks have developed a tendency to adapt hit British TV shows for American audiences with less than brilliant results. It's almost become something of a running joke.

Now, up until now, I've been relatively okay with this. It's kind of understandable that the niche comedy found in certain British shows wouldn't translate so well with American audiences. It might sound a little clichéd, but the differences in humour between the Brits and the Yanks isn't a figment of our imaginations. Added to this, not all American adaptations have been as disastrous and horrific as the Hindenburg. The most obvious example is by far The Office.

The American Office
A definitive British comedy from Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the initial scepticism that shadowed the American adaptation in 2005 has been outshone since. The American Office has run 12 times as many episodes as its predecessor and has grown into a classic comedy show in its own right. It is arguably better in some aspects as well; whilst The British Office was centred on solely David, Gareth, Tim and Dawn, the American Office has a much stronger and memorable supporting cast.

That is pretty much however where the positives end. The list of horrific, awkward, disastrous and toe-curlingly bad adaptations sadly out weigh the good ones by a long way. Life On Mars, Being Human, Shameless and Skins are just a few to get us started. All interesting, successful and popular British drama shows that have been lost (sporadically) in translation. When reworking for the American market, the daring, edgy and controversial E4 show Skins failed to make a splash and instead sank faster than a dead scuba diver.

Add to this the horror that was Little Britain USA as well as the little known about IT Crowd remake pilot episode. Such was the lack of originality, the episode was a shot for shot, word for word rehash of the originals first episode, going as far as casting Richard Ayoade in the role of Moss, a role originally played by Richard Ayoade. There is a reason why this is spoken little of.

But worst of all is the most recent of all. MTV is currently airing a remake of E4's The Inbetweeners. And they've butchered it. One of the most endearing things about the original is its crassness and its genuineness. Will, Simon, Neil and Jay aren't over-played or over-acted; they act like teenage guys, right down to the biting banter and the endless mutual torment. The fact that it is also endlessly quotable ("Bumder", "Oooh fwriend", "bus wankers") doesn't hamper the show.

The American remake on the other hand is devoid of all that made the original funny. It's taken classic scenes  and features from the original and not reworked them at all; Simon spray painting Carly's name onto her driveway, his pathetic yellow Fiat and so on. It makes me wonder why they even bother making the show in the first place if all they are going to do is copy everything from the original. If American audiences want to see that kind of show, they should just cut out the middle man and watch the original! If the scenes are identical (sometimes word for word) then surely it makes no difference whether the show is set in America or Britain. It's completely and utterly needless.  Seriously, America, just give up remaking British TV, save some money and watch the originals.


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