Ramblings

Good things come in threes….?

Posted on January 23, 2012. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

On the 19th January 2012 this collection of typo ridden blether celebrated its third birthday.  The fact that I couldn’t write anything on the actual day is kind of a testament to how things have been going these past few months, but I also had an idea what I wanted to write about and needed to put some actual thought in to it.

The trilogy is a big deal in cinema. If you can get people hooked in enough from that first installment to wait a minimum of two more years to see the climax then you know you’re on to a good thing.  Or are you? The propensity for making sequels over the last decade or so has led to a few well loved films being stretched out over three parts that maybe weren’t intended at first inception.  It’s yet to be seen whether this blog is the series that can keep running or the plot that should have given up somewhere in the middle of part two, but in celebration of at least making the landmark, I bring you part three in cinema: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

This is where the proper trilogies live.  The ones that had a big three part game plan and started setting up for it within the opening moments of part one.  The best trilogies though are the ones where you didn’t think it could get any better and then the finale knocks you sideways.  The Two Towers gave us one of the most epic on screen battles seen in Helm’s Deep, and then Return of the King came along with double whammy Pelennor fields and Cormallen and the whole concept of big screen battle changed.  And no matter what your persuasion is on Ewoks, you have to admit that Return of the Jedi is a fantastic movie.  What is quite unique for that film is that we’ve already had the big twist which is often the climax of the story, but now we get to see how our hero deals with it. It’s the what happens next that makes it interesting.  If you’re like me, you probably count that two sets of Star Wars films as two separate trilogies, in which case despite the collection of crap that went before and the impossible comparison to its big brothers, Revenge of the Sith is a pretty cool movie and definitely a fitting climax to the prequels.

It’s not just the big trilogies that fit here though.  Long running series  Indy and Die Hard both had very strong third parts following on from slightly weaker second helpings. (Let’s not talk about Indy 4)  And although a lot of people don’t realise it’s  a trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a fantastic final showdown in the El Mariachi story.

The Bad

So. The bad.  This tends to be where we find the films that were probably never intended to run for so long.  Pirates of the Caribbean was a game changing movie which made a lot of people (especially me) very happy.  2 more films could only be a good thing right? Um….

The problem is, they didn’t think Pirates would work, so they threw everything they had at the first film.  It’s self contained, so trying to find things to stretch out for another 2  means it all gets a bit thin.  I by no means dislike At World’s End, but it’s not even close to the magic they had with the first film.  As much as I love Captain Jack, maybe you can have too much of a good thing.  Of course that didn’t stop them, and On Stranger Tides came along.  I still haven’t seen it (I’m scared to) but it’ll be a shame if an incredible orignal movie is tainted by weaker follow ups.

Which brings me on to: Matrix Revolutions.  For exactly the same reasons really. The Matrix is a work of art. It’s just brilliant. When they announced two more movies being made I was excited to see where they’d go with it, but quickly realised that there wasn’t really anywhere. There are some fantastic fight scenes in that film, but even they don’t have the impact of when Neo first stands up  and says “No.”  Not to mention the fact that I still don’t understand how Neo had powers out of the Matrix, whether or not he died at the end and what the hell Zion is going to do now.

In the comic book world, hitting the third part seems to be the cue for a reboot, with Spiderman 3 (The EMO years)  and X Men: The Last Stand springing to mind.  I like both of these films, but they are definitely not as strong as their earlier counterparts (or the later films in the case of X Men).  Often by part three of a series, we’re starting to run out of places to go, particularly if you brought out the big guns early, which leads to the common pitfalls.  More often than not you get too many heroes or too many villains; trying to compensate for a less exciting premise by bringing in lots of new characters which can lead to characters feeling underdeveloped.

In other cases though, it can just be that we’ve seen it all before.  As much as I love Jurassic Park, we probably didn’t need a third film about people getting eaten by dinosaurs, and fantastic though the first two Back To The Future films are, the third one does kind of go of the rails a bit (if you’ll excuse the train based pun)

The Ugly

I’m too nice to consign any of the above films to the “Ugly” pile, because even though they don’t live up to the expectations laid down by their predecessors, they do have some saving graces.  In fact, when it came to thinking of truly terrible part threes, the only one that came to mind was Shrek the Third. The less said about that the better.I’m sure you can fill me in on some terrible trilogies I’ve missed.

Coming soon…

It just so happens that it’s not just my little old blog that’s bringing out its third instalment this year.  Christopher Nolan is delivering the much anticipated Dark Knight Rises, which is set to be a blockbuster success and quite probably a fantastic movie.  We also have Sherlock Holmes 3 on the horizon, which is less of a dead cert, with a somewhat lukewarm reaction the sequel, but in my case that’s one part 3 I can’t wait to see.  And while we’re thinking about RDJ (cos I know you are) Iron Man 3 hits the screens in 2013, this time with Shane Black at the helm instead of Jon Favreau.  I really hope that works. Because I’m not sure how you do it without Favreau. And that is one series I really don’t want to see go out with a whimper.

And finally….this summer we have Men In Black 3, which is a pretty good example of not knowing when to quit after a crappy sequel.  If in doubt, throw in some time travel. *sigh*

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Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Posted on December 23, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , , |

After a flurry of posts I’m signing off for Christmas now.  My non-blogging life (I know, I actually have one!) has got in the way a bit this year so posts have been a few and far between, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed any you’ve read, and thanks for coming back to the site even though it’s not updated that regularly.

It’s been a good year for movies, and even though I haven’t been to the cinema as often as I’d like, (which would be daily) I’ve seen some great films, both new releases and late discoveries.  Highlights for me have got to be InceptionReal Steel, Scott Pilgrim and, of course, Sherlock Holmes.

As for the blog, 2011 was  the year I somehow managed to blag my way on to BBC Radio 4 and got a free phone from Windows/Nokia, which is pretty good going for someone who’s writing ability barely rivals Dan Brown.  I’ve also added a new page where you can suggest movies you think I need to see or would like me to review.

I haven’t written any Christmas movie posts this year because over the last two I’ve pretty much covered everything, but I did catch two movies this year that I hadn’t seen before which deserve a quick mention.

The first is Elf, a movie people have been telling me I need to see pretty much since it came out but which I’ve avoided because *ducks for cover* I just don’t like Will Ferrell.  The movie was cute, and did everything a Christmas movie should, but I found it a bit short on laughs for a film which people talk about as one of the funniest Christmas movies ever.  All in all, it was disappointing, but hey, it’s Christmas, and I didn’t really care as long as it had the right amount of festive spirit.

The second film I watched had completely the opposite effect. I wasn’t expecting it to be that good and was pleasantly surprised.  Turns out Nativity! is actually kind of good.  Packed with British comic actors and cute little kids (I want to take that little ginger boy home) it’s got everything you need for a cosy Christmas film, with a surprising amount of heart.  You might have overlooked it because it kind of flew under the radar, but if you’re not one of the Scrooges that hates Love Actually then I think you should give it a whirl.

And that’s it from me for 2011. I’ll be back in the New Year for this blog’s third birthday! (Who would have thought?)

Hope you all have fantastic Christmases and get your New Years off to a great start.  Thanks again for taking the time to read my incoherent ramblings.

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Just to prove I’m still alive

Posted on December 11, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , |

I don’t like writing posts like this. I also dislike the increasing propensity with which I find myself writing them.  Regardless, here is my list of excuses for why there hasn’t been a new post on here in nearly a month.

  1. Medicine/degree *whine whine* You’ve heard it before and don’t need to hear it again.
  2. The St John Ambulance half of my life has kind of taken over a bit recently (especially with Christmas ball last week) so I have had even less free time than I usually do.
  3. I’ve got mixed up in the Nokia Into Insiders thing to launch their new Windows phone (any of you doing it too?) Which has kind of kept me occupied. Mainly because I can’t stop playing with my new phone.
  4. The combination of the above things means I haven’t been to a cinema or even watched a DVD in weeks.
  5. It’s nearly Christmas and I only started my Christmas shopping yesterday. :s

Enough excuses. Here’s the good news: next week I am going to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie (term ends on Friday :D) I will also start working my way through my 12 films of Christmas (I’m massively behind, I’ve only watched one so far, and I want to get Gremlins in in the next few days.)

So a review of Holmes for you to look forward to. And if you’re lucky I might even get another post in before Christmas, although the fact that I’m not going home this year till Christmas Eve may make that tricky.  In the meantime, I’ve peppered this post with links that should keep you occupied for at least 10 minutes.

Hope you’ve not been missing me too much!

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Flattery will get you everywhere

Posted on September 20, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , |

A few weeks ago I got a very nice email from Nicole at TV Dinner and a Movie saying all kinds of untrue things about my writing and asking if I’d like to write a guest post for the site she runs with a friend.  If I’m honest I’ve been a little devoid of inspiration lately, so this was just the kick I needed to get me flexing my fingers (and has actually inspired one or two follow up posts, watch this space)

After a bit of discussion and brain racking, we ended up with a post to fit the Back to School season: a movie about a kid skipping school.

You can find my generally incoherent ramblings HERE.  Check out the rest of the site while you’re at it.

(And if you want to send me nice emails with lies about my spelling and grammar you can find my email address over in that mess on the right somewhere)

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Movies I Need to See

Posted on September 12, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , |

For the long suffering readers out there; you’ve probably been frustrated more than once at leaving me a lovely in depth comment about how something I’ve written relates to an amazing movie which I then admit I’ve never seen.  This is for you.  To go with my two Movies to See/Miss pages I’m adding a new third page to the site: Movies I Need to See.

I’ll start the list myself with a collection of films that are on my current “to-do” list, but I want some input from you too, so leave me a comment either here or on the new snazzy page (links at the top) and I’ll add them to the pile.  Like the other two, the page will be continually updated and I’ll let you know as I cross things off.

obviously I’m not including really recent releases on the list, ‘cos, you know, give me a chance!

My Need to See list so far:

  1. The Godfather Parts II and III. Everyone tells me the 2nd one is the best one but I’ve still only seen the first one.
  2. Beetlejuice. Shocking from such a die hard Burton fan
  3. The Incredibly Hulk (Norton, not Bana) I know, I call myself a Marvel fan but I’ve actually seen neither of the recent Hulk movies. I have seen the original though.
  4. The Big Lebowski
  5. Dr Strangelove
  6. Young Frankenstein
  7. Chaplin
  8. Memento
  9. Requiem for a Dream
  10. Being John Malkovich
  11. Good Will Hunting
  12. A Beautiful Mind
  13. Schindler’s List
  14. Slumdog Millionaire. I know. I think I’m the only person on the planet who hasn’t seen it.
  15. Top Gun. As soon as I get over Tom Cruise being in it
  16. Jerry Maguire. Likewise.
  17. A Fish Called Wanda
  18. Crash

That’s all I’ve got for now. More suggestions in the comments or here please.

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Don’t die of shock…I’m about to say something good about 3D….

Posted on September 3, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , |

Recovered yet? OK I’ll carry on.  Technically it’s not 3D I’m saying good things about, it’s 4D.

We all know that I’m not a fan of 3D.  Of the few films I’ve seen that used the tech, only one (Avatar) managed to have a couple of  moments where it added rather than detracted, and I still think that they are just as good if not better in good old-fashioned 2D.  I get it though, they’re trying to make the cinema experience something you can’t recreate at home, and the better home cinema systems get, the harder that becomes.

So why my slight change of heart?  Well, it’s a bit of a random one, but last night some lovely friends took me to the Marvel 4D experience at Madame Tussaud’s.  Stay with me.  I’ve always said that 3D works better with animation because the bubble-like appearance of the characters doesn’t seem so weird when they’re already animated, and in this case the use of 3D was actually kind of cool.  Added to that the 4D effects (air jets, water, I won’t ruin it for you) and it became a really fun (short) film experience that made you feel like you really were part of the action.

So this is the conclusion I’ve come to; the problem with 3D movies is that they’re trying too hard not to do the gimmicky things waving out of the screen at you bit and be taken seriously as a special effect. But 3D is a gimmick. It’s always going to be about making you want to duck when things come flying towards you, so if you’re going to make a movie in 3D, embrace that. Don’t pretend you’ve not added on extra frills to try to make people come to the cinema, just go with it!  And if you can throw in some other fancy (and relatively cheap) effects to make the audience jump then why  not?  I’m not saying that mainstream movies should all start embracing 4D (God can you imagine?) but as the death of 3D appears nigh, I think it should be put back in its rightful place.

And for those who were wondering what the actual film was like…it depends on your view of recent Marvel offerings but I reckon it could give Fantastic Four a run for its money 😉

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Things you should know about The Hobbit by now

Posted on July 20, 2011. Filed under: News, Trivia | Tags: , , , , , |

In the past month or so a lot of news about the eagerly anticipated Hobbit movie has come out.  I’ve been getting over excited by the various updates coming from facebook, twitter and TORN, but for those of you who don’t have a constant supply of Tolkien related news, here is a handy break down of all the gossip from Middle Earth

  1. The movie has been split in half.  Which was just about to annoy me until I realised this meant twice as much hobbitty goodness. The first film is called An Unexpected Journey and will be released on 14th December 2012.  Part two is There And Back Again and will be out the following Christmas. Start getting your sleeping bags ready for Leicester Square 😉
  2. Empire magazine were the first to run a cover, giving us the first look at the new movie:
  3. Martin Freeman looks better as a hobbit than a human.
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch has replaced Bill Nighy as the voice of Smaug. Which means at one point Holmes will be talking to Watson.  That just about makes up for the loss of Nighy.
  5. Christopher Lee (infamously cut from ROTK) will be in the movie.  He is filming his scenes in the UK.
  6. Thanks to some creative tweeting from Derren Brown (of all people) there’s a suggestion that filming has already begun.
  7. Andy Serkis, having already completed a lot of his MoCap work,  is directing the second unit. Which is just cool.
  8. Stephen Fry is playing the Master of Laketown. Which is also pretty damn fantastic
  9. Elijah Wood will have a cameo appearance
  10. So will Orlando Bloom
  11. A flurry of pictures were released last week, giving us a first look at how the cast will look in full dwarf get up:
  12. Basically, it’s going to be awesome.
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Why I’m worried about Captain America

Posted on July 18, 2011. Filed under: Ramblings, Trailers | Tags: , , , |

On the 29th July, Captain America: The First Avenger hits cinemas.

This is the sort of thing that should send superhero junkies like me into a frenzy of excitement.  But instead, I’m just a little bit nervous about how the film is going to go down.

My main concern about Cap can be summed up in two words: Chris Evans.  I’ve been saying it for months, and I really hope he proves me wrong, but I don’t like the guy and just don’t see him working. He annoyed the hell out of me in Fantastic Four but seeing as that’s pretty much all I’m basing this on I’m hoping that he was playing an irritating character and will find another dimension when playing Steve Rogers.

The other thing that bugs me is the potential for the film to look dated even before it’s started. I know very little about the comics, because to be honest I was never interested, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s always seemed like a very old fashioned character with the kind of excessive patriotism that doesn’t sit as comfortably now as it may have done then.  It might get away with it in the American market but I’m not sure how British audiences will react.  I’m also struggling with the fact that as much as I want to, I’ve never liked Cap. He’s too whiter than white for me, kind of Marvel’s answer to Superman which I just find dull. As I said in the 15 Questions Meme, I’m anti-hero all the way.

And worry number three is just how much stock is tied up in this movie.  They’ve gone ahead and called in The First Avenger. They might as well have stamped the word FRANCHISE across the poster.  If Cap bombs then on the 4th May next year we have a big problem.  So far Iron Man is going strong (even though a lot of people get stressed out over the sequel) and Thor got rave reviews (seriously, someone take me to see that!).  That’s half the team sorted.  But apparently we’re getting yet another version of Bruce Banner in the form of Mark Ruffalo, which scuppers my hopes that they’d somehow get Norton back, and if Evans fails to impress then we’ve got a very precarious situation.  Even more so since he’s supposed to be the brains of the outfit.  I don’t know whether they’d try to skew the film to focus on more popular or successful characters but it all seems a bit messy to me. Especially since they’re also going to try and keep each character’s separate movies going (or at least they are with Iron Man, for now…)

All this seems like a potential disaster.  And a lot of it comes from how much money is riding on these films, which isn’t how it should work.

Having said all that, Hugo Weaving is in this film. Which can only be good. And the trailer looks OK. It didn’t get me as over-excited as some, but it wasn’t as teeth clenchingly cheesy as The Green Lantern. So let’s hope I’m just worrying over nothing.

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Top 5 Actors I just don’t get

Posted on July 16, 2011. Filed under: Top 5 | Tags: , , , , |

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! 🙂

Howdy folks. I’m back from the East Coast where the weather is generally windy but the baby goats are cute.  I have a whole arsenal of posts in the early draft stages ready to head your way, so I thought I better get going.

This post is brought to you by a late night re-run of The Departed. You’ll see why.

There are some actors out there that as far as I’m concerned are way more succesful than they should be. It’s not exactly that they’re bad actors, I just don’t understand why they keep getting lead roles.  They are either what I call beige people, who just blend into the background and can’t convince me of any kind of hero-like status, or they’re just plain creepy.  So with that in mind, I give you my Top 5 Actors that I just don’t get.

5. Adam Sandler

I haven’t seen that many Sandler films.  Mainly because I don’t think I could be less interested in him if I tried.  I don’t know what it is. I don’t actively dislike him, unlike some other names to come, but I don’t like him either, so as a lead character I never sympathise. I’ve never really found him funny either. Yet there’s a significant proportion of, mainly American, people who think the sun shines where he walks.  Anyone care to explain what I’m missing?

4. Russell Crowe

It took me a while to work out that the reason I don’t like Gladiator is Russell Crowe.  Again, it’s nothing against him personally, I just don’t find him an engaging screen presence.  When I found out he would be starring in the latest Robin Hood offering I actively avoided it, and without Paul Bettany I doubt I would have made it all the way through Master and Commander. I think the problem is that I find him boring.  And because he tends to take on more serious subjects… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

3. Pierce Brosnan

Anyone who has read my review of Mamma Mia may have noticed I’m not a fan.  In fact, he is responsible for me actively avoiding all James Bond movies until Daniel Craig took over.  I have no idea what it is but for as long as I can remember Brosnan has literally made me shudder. He is the slimiest thing I’ve ever seen on screen and I simply can’t watch him.  There’s only one film with him in that I like, and that’s Mrs Doubtfire. Because he gets hit in the head with fruit and chokes on spicy fish.

2. Tom Cruise

The only man in the world creepier than Pierce Brosnan.  Not only is Cruise slimy he’s genuinely scary.  I mean seriously, I know you can’t believe everything you read in the tabloids but if even 10% of that is true the man is a  nutcase.  And I’m sorry but no matter how many times you try to convince me he’s a “heart-throb” his cheesy smile will always make me retch.

My active avoidance of his films is more of a boycott until he releases poor Katie Holmes.  Rain Man is his only saving grace because Dustin Hoffman is so good you can get through nearly the whole film without looking at him.

1. Matt Damon

And in at number one, the blandest actor in Hollywood, Matt Damon.  I don’t know what it is with him, he’s just so incredibly beige.  The only film that I’ve actually liked him in is Dogma and I think the chemistry between him and Affleck has everything to do with that.  Like Crowe, I’ve now found myself avoiding films just because he’s in them. Not because I particularly dislike him, but just because he bores me.  Even The Talented Mr Ripley, which I really like, tends to get passed by when I’m picking a film the minute I remember he’s in it and Jude Law doesn’t last long enough to carry him.

The Bourne trilogy should be up there with my favourite films.  It has all my favourite things; guns, explosions, ridiculous number of double crosses and twists, yet for some reason I just wasn’t feeling it.  I don’t know whether it’s that I don’t believe him as an action hero or what but something isn’t right there.  Re-watching The Departed the other night I remembered something I wrote in my review of Inception about not necessarily seeing Leo Di Caprio as an action hero but actually it’s Damon who struggles to convince while DiCaprio once again reminds me that I really should stop forgetting how good he is.  Apart from Damon’s rubbish wandering accent in that movie, he’s just unconvincing as any kind of hardcore gangster-come-cop. Or hardocre anything for that matter.  I spend the movie waiting for Wahlberg, Nicholson and DiCaprio to get back on screen.

So those are the guys who have the exact opposite to the desired effect when I see them on the posters.  I’m sure that I’m going to get some disagreement out of you so bring it on. And let me know who your big screen turn offs are.

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Fifteen Movie Questions Meme

Posted on June 17, 2011. Filed under: Memes and Blogathons, Ramblings | Tags: |

We all love a good meme don’t we? Andy tagged me in this one so I guess I better play along.  Simple stuff, 15 questions, 15 answers.  I’ll leave the psychosocial analysis up to you.

To make it more fun I’m not going to tell you the names of the movies, just give you picture clues. If you’ve read this blog before the answers will probably be really obvious anyway. (I’ve nicked this idea from somebody’s Life in Movies post but I can’t for the life of me remember who so sorry!)

Movie you love with a passion

Let’s all die of shock shall we?

Movie you vow never to watch

Because vampires do not sparkle.

Movie that literally left you speechless

Amazing work.

Movie you always recommend

If you haven’t seen it there’s something wrong with you.

Actor/Actress you always watch no matter how crappy the movie

Except Due Date

Actor/Actress you don’t get the appeal for

Ew.

Actor/Actress living or dead you’d love to meet

Struggled a bit to think of just one, but then he popped into my head and he’s such a legend of cinema

Sexiest actor/actress you’ve ever seen (picture required!)

Dream cast

I don’t really get dream casts, sometimes the best cast are brilliant because they’re thrown together by accident. Big name ensemble casts can sometimes get in the way of themselves by having too many super famous people. You forget to concentrate on the movie becasue you’re too busy spotting names. It’s like being on one of those bus tours.

Favourite actor pairing

I couldn’t think of one. So I went with this.

Favourite movie setting

The haven’t taken the set down yet

Favourite decade for movies

I don’t really have an answer for this one, every decade has some amazing movies and some crap. I’m quite liking the superhero revival of the 00s.

Chick flick or action movie?

If things explode and then guys walk away not looking at the super cool fire ball they just created I’m in.

Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Always.

Black and white or colour?

I’m supposed to do some tagging now, but instead I’ll just say this was fun and you should do it too. Or not. Your choice. 😛

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