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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Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Posted on December 22, 2011. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , |

Hooray for Christmas holidays! My long absence from the cinema has finally come to an end, and what a film to do it with.

It’s no secret that I loved the last Sherlock film, In fact, I was so emphatic about it that Ross suggested I might be working for their promo department.  So I’ve been excited about the sequel ever since I discovered they were filming it down the road from my flat.  With all the positive feedback from the first film, it had a lot to live up to, and as RDJ said himself “sequels usually suck,” so this film really needed to deliver. Luckily it does.

Game of Shadows has everything we want from this franchise.  Great one liner humour combined with some more slapstick comedy, a convoluted plot with enough clues for the audience to think they’re on the brink of solving it before we realise we’re nowhere near as clever as Holmes, and a fantastic Victorian bromance between Holmes and Watson.

The chemistry between Jude Law and RDJ was what made the first film so wonderful, and in this film they’ve managed to build on it without overplaying it. There are some lovely moments, both humourous and more serious, which add heart to the storyline.

As for the supporting cast; Noomi Rapace is good as Sim and Stephen Fry does a good turn as Mycroft, although it’s hard to see him as anything other than Stephen Fry.   After all the furore over who would play Moriarty following the first film, and the melodramatic secrecy with which they hid the actors face both in the first film and during initial work on the second, it could almost be a let down that Jared Harris is revealed with fairly little ceremony (and that he isn’t a big name Hollywood superstar).  I’ll admit when I heard who was playing the infamous Napoleon of crime I was a little disappointed because I was expecting something different, but Harris earns his place in the movie and is a good foil for Holmes.

On to the story.  The plot is at times hard to follow, and about three quarters of the way through I did find myself trying to make sense of which diplomat did what to whom and why this was a bad thing.  Pretty much everything is explained by the end though, and a second watch coupled with a bit more post game dissection with my sister should tie up any loose ends.  The action comes thick and fast, as we would expect from Guy Richie, and there are some awesome set pieces.  Anyone who has seen the trailer has seen most of the train scene, but for me the chase through the woods is a fantastic piece of cinema.  The use of slow motion is clever and adds just the right emphasis to certain moments, making it a real edge of the seat sequence.  The final showdown between Holmes and Moriarty is brilliantly executed too, playing with the Holmes voiceover device to turn the fight in to a proper meeting of minds.

The story is basically the same as LXG (for those who’ve seen it, and no, I’m not going to start that debate again) but obviously with a bit more work gone in to it, and based on one of Conan Doyle’s more notorious books.  Despite not having read the book (surprise surprise) I did know where we were heading and so I was really happy with how the ending was handled.  I’m not going to spoil anything, but the last scene definitely drew a gasp from me and those around me, and was the perfect way to bring as neat a close as possible to a necessarily open ending.

Finally a few words on music. I love the score to Holmes; it conjures up Victorian London brilliantly.  Hans Zimmer can basically do no wrong, but he manages to get a great balance between a period feel and a punchy accompaniment to the on screen energy.  The nods to Don Giovanni are also a nice little in joke for musos.

I probably don’t need to do much work to convince you to go out and see this film.  It’s a great pre-Christmas movie and I’m already looking forward to seeing it again.  Roll on Sherlock 3.

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Oh how I’ve missed you Holmes

Posted on July 17, 2011. Filed under: Trailers | Tags: , , , |

Even though Cap is just a couple of weeks away (more on that story later) right now, I’m more excited about this:

In a dress. Yes.

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“He’s just as brilliant as you are. And infinitely more devious.”

Posted on February 21, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , |

Before I get too caught up with writing about the BAFTAs tonight I tought I’d do a quick post about a debate I ended up having today so that you can all join in.

As I’ve mentioned, the new Sherlock Holmes franchise already has sequels in the pipeline and rumours are flying in all directions about who is going to play Holmes’ arch-nemesis Moriarty.  Definitely the most prominent suggestion so far is Brad Pitt, who allegedly provided the voice for the anonymous character we have seen so far.

My question to you is this: who would you cast?

The difficulty is that with the new look Holmes we need someone who can fit in with this new action man detective, yet still pull off a believable evil genius that can go up against Downey Jr

After much arguing today, and rattling through actors ranging from Jeremy Irons to Johnny Depp, we eventually came to a split decision. Either Christian Bale or Stuart Townsend.

I could live with Brad Pitt doing it. I am pretty confident he eventually will since the producers are denying it so strenuously.  He’s always a better actor than I expect, and I’m sure he’ll find himself both a believable British accent and some Victorian charm, but I think in a perfect world Moriarty should go to a Brit.  We came up with Christian Bale without realising that we had inadvertently pitted Batman against Iron Man.  I was initially against Bale but the idea of DC and Marvel’s most similar characters coming up against each other in a completely unrelated movie made me smile.

As for Stuart Townsend, that was my suggestion, based mainly on his work in LXG. He just seems to suit that kind of self-assured aristocratic yet pretty handy with a sword if he had to be role.

So who are you voting for?

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A few quick words on Sherlock Holmes

Posted on February 18, 2010. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews, Trivia | Tags: , , , , |

I don’t really have time to write a full on review so instead I’m giving you a couple of paragraphs based on some stuff I scribbled down last night. Note: I’ve really tried to tone down use of the word “awesome.”

Sherlock Holmes is awesome. It is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. The chemistry between Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr is spot on, creating a brilliant brotherly relationship with all the awkward macho-ness of Victorian gentlemen added on.  Of course this kind of fast talking quick witted dialogue is the reason Downey Jr was invented-which is why the role suits him so well, but Law plays a brilliant striaght man, with a great dry sarcasm and complete lack of surprise at Holmes erratic behaviour.

OK so this version probably doesn’t live up to the books I haven’t read, but to be honest, who cares? I like this kind of action hero come detective character who has a few issues with drinking eye medicine. (For those who like trivia, that reference in the film is a nod to Holmes cocaine addiction.)  Normally when a film is obvioulsy setting up for a franchise I start to become wary of obvious sequel lead ins, but with Holmes I was already couting the days to the next movie before the credits had even rolled.  This is definitely a double act that could endure for a while yet, with almost limitless plot possibilities!

While we’re talking about plot, some have criticised the black magic story in the film saying it’s too supernatiral for Holmes, but I disagree. The fact that everything came down to it’s logical Scientific explanation suitted Holmes perfectly, while the character of Blackwood tapped into the culture of superstition at the time.

A few other quick thoughts. Hans Zimmer’s score is (as usual) brilliant and despite sounding like the wrong man for the job Guy Richie’s direction works well. There are a few of his trademarks there (I’m pretty sure slow-mo bare knuckle boxing was his idea) but in the context of the film nothing sticks out.  A lot of effort went into recreating Victorian London as well, and the costume design is really good. Speaking of, one final bit of trivia for you: the costume designer obviously has a sense of humour-pay attention to where she has her name in the credits/picture montage.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t have much work to do in that scene 😉

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Half Term is a wonderful thing

Posted on February 17, 2010. Filed under: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , |

The best thing about working at a school is school holidays.

This week off means I can once again take advantage of the brilliant Orange Wednesdays and finally go and see Sherlock Holmes.

Just a short month and a half after it’s initial release…

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