I’m not really a fan of disaster movies.  I would describe 2012 as traditional global-disaster movie fare.

  1. We have an estranged family (husband and wife divorced, two kids, new husband in the frame)
  2. We have a growing threat, and a plan
  3. We have a few other key story members with either existing relationships that will be stretched by the disaster or new relationships that will be formed as a result of it
  4. We then get 158 minutes of a single threaded plot, which brings these people together or forces them apart and provides heroes the chance to stand up and be counted while villains perish in fiery justice.

I spent most of the first hour doing something else as well.  Checking e-mails, browsing IMDB, playing Plants vs. Zombies.  It’s pretty predictable, as the estranged husband takes his kids on a camping trip and discovers a global conspiracy over some cataclysmic event.  However, eventually the acting and the action and the shear madness of the whole thing drags you in, and by about the one hour mark I was engaged.

The special effects are impressive, the destruction is amusing, the solution is far fetched and insane and the moments of heroic sacrifice are about as cliche as they get.  It’s not a good movie.  It’s too long for one, and it’s far too predictable for another, but it was eventually engaging.  The only two actors who seemed to have any meat on their roles were John Cusack and Chiwetel Ejiofor.  Cusack managed to bring some life to his character, Ejiofor did the best he could with some pretty slack writing.  No one else stood out, which isn’t to say they did badly, but just that the source material was so entirely bland.

Should you see 2012?  Maybe, if you fancy killing 158 minutes and can’t think of anything better to do, but don’t buy it, rent it for as little as possible.

Turn and face the strange

There are a lot of things going on at the moment, a lot of potential and certain change.  For some people change is great, for some, and that includes me, change is unsettling at the least and very stressful at worst.

I’m on the verge of finally starting to learn to drive.  Maybe I’ll pass my test before I’m 40.  Just need to get a photo signed (got them taken today), get the ID back and actually arrange the lessons, but I’m in the right place mentally which I’ve not really been before.  Mostly it’s thanks to Grete for sorting out the hassle that I can never be bothered to deal with.  I’m actually, if I let myself think about it, looking forward to it, but let’s keep that a secret for now.

My employer is currently going through a round of redundancies.  I’m included in the ‘in scope’ pool.  So there’s a fair amount of uncertainty from that.  Won’t really know where I stand personally for another few weeks.

Add in to that mix that I’m changing roles at work as well.  It’s not been formally announced yet and so I’m not going to give any detail here, but I’m staying in the same bit of the company and hence still ‘in-scope’ (see above), but moving to a different role.  No definite timescales as of yet.  That’s the big change I tweeted about a short while back – once it’s been formally announced at work, I’ll provide an update.

And of top of all of that, and I’m not sure how many folk will understand / care, I’ve taken on the role of Control for the uk.* usenet hierarchy.  Voluntary position, and different people probably have different views about how much of a concern it should be, but for me it’s a big deal, and I intend to carry out the role as well as I can which brings it’s own level of change and stress.  I’m proud to have been offered the position.

A couple of other minor things, and there’s a big stirring pot of change going on right now.

Loved Film, but not LOVEFiLM

Just cancelled our LOVEFiLM subscription.  For a couple of reasons.  Firstly we’re getting Sky HD+ and due to the way LOVEFiLM works by the time they sent us a disc, you could already pay a few quid to see the film on Sky+ anyway.  With Sky HD+ it means I’ll be able to watch HD versions of the films and get just as good a quality experience.  The second reason is that despite letting you rank your selections as low, medium and high, LOVEFiLM consistently didn’t send me my high priority choices, probably because they were in demand.  That’s okay, but what’s the point of having the system if high demand films just ignore it?

We only managed to get what we wanted to watch by micro-managing the list of movies, and if I have to do that, personally, I may as well spend 10 minutes walking around our local Blockbuster picking up 2 or 3 films to watch.

I still think that online rental is going to be the way to go – either as digital delivery or physical delivery, but until you can log on, click ‘I want this’ next to the film and get it in the post in 2 days (rather than having to micro-manage a list of 30 films and always getting the low priority ones) I’m not sure it’s going to be good enough for me.

Kick Ass

There’s something both distressing and fascinating about watching a 13 year old actress play an 11 year old kid dressed as a superhero getting beaten up.  But then, distressing and fascinating really describes pretty much the entire movie.  There are plenty of shocking things on screen in Kick Ass, although it’s the first and second deaths in the movie that carried the most weight for me, but there are plenty of laughs, some great dialogue, and plenty of comic book humour for those who enjoy it.

Kick Ass is an over-the-top comic superhero action movie.  We are presented with a young guy who turns himself into a superhero, because he can’t work out why no one has done it before, and is tired of being the victim, a father who has turned both himself and his daughter into real killer vigilantes, and an evil crime boss.  The movie doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a re-telling of many of the superhero stories we’re used to, it both pokes fun at those stories and poses questions about the consequences of the behaviours involved.  The result is a familiar plot of rescue, betrayal and redemption, but the delivery of that plot is slick, shocking and thoroughly entertaining.

It’s not without flaws, I felt it was a little long and could have done with being tighter in the middle when I was left wondering if I was enjoying it or not, but it crests that hump and shoots off into a rapid and excellent finale.

What really made the movie enjoyable for me were three things.  I loved the style and the cinematography.  The sound track was superb.  And Chloe Mortez rocked. Compared to the acting we saw in the early Harry Potter movies, from actors of a similar age, her acting is a world apart.  She rocked, she owned her scenes.  Everyone else was excellent, I loved all the characters, from Red Mist, Kick Ass himself, through to Big Daddy but Hit Girl (Chloe) really did steal this movie.

The action sequences are brutal, but there’s plenty of warning that’s how it is going to be, and I’ll be honest, it’s not easy watching an 11 (13) year old kid get their ass kicked on screen.  Nor do you escape unscathed by watching her shoot, stab and slice her way through the bad guys, I was left with an unsettling feeling of having seen something wrong.  But that isn’t a mistake, or a fault, I’m certain it’s intentional.

The ending was superb, very satisfying and dripping with cliche.  You should go see this movie, it should make money in the cinema because it’s a good film.  I loved it, despite the pacing issues.

The Third One Never Dies

Is this a trope?  I couldn’t find anything obvious on TV Tropes although I didn’t spend a huge amount of time on there.  Here’s the breakdown.  Criminal drama on television, usually in cases of multiple crimes (so serial killers, that kind of thing).  The show starts with either the discovery of some victims, or the killer killing their first victim(s).  Then, the good guys get in on the case, and start investigating it.  Then, the killer strikes again, only this time we see some of the build up.  The good guys work harder.  And then, the killer moves in on their third victim.  But, now the good guys are on their tail, and they rush in and save the day.

Doesn’t always work out that way, sometimes they break the formula, but it’s pretty reliable.  Certainly the case in Criminal Minds, definitely the case in the CSI cross-over piece that they did recently, sometimes the case in Fringe.

Take this evening’s Criminal Minds for example.  Usual terrible horrific subject matter.  Serial killer targets a family and kills them – this starts the show and the team get involved.  Later we see another family killed.  Finally we find out a third family is being targeted but by then the team know where they are and rush in to save the day.  I’m sure it’s to do with the duration of the show, otherwise there might be more victims, but I’m sure it’s also because we like the format of 3 acts.

Opening Act: Horrific murder, the killer strikes, the team are baffled.
Second Act: The team beat themselves up because they couldn’t save the second victim, but wait! A clue!
Third Act: Can the team save the 3rd victim from the evil killer in time!

All good stories have a start, a middle and an end.

This is probably no revelation to anyone, but I started using the phrase ‘The Third One Never Dies’ whenever a serial killer story starts up in a TV Crime Drama and I liked the phrase so much, thought I’d blog about it.