Category Archives: Movie

Movie stuffs including news and reviews

Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex is a very short movie.  I can’t help but wonder where the rest of it went.  The film is carried by Josh Brolin, his onscreen presence propping up an otherwise ordinary story.

Jonah watched his family murdered and vowed revenge on the man who did it, only to find out he died in a fire.  He goes on a bounty hunting rampage, kept alive throughout many gun fights by his desire for revenge and the skills of the local native Americans.

Suddenly the old enemy is back with some overly complicated plan involving a bizarre weapon.  The plan involves somehow crushing the newly formed Union of States.  The president, somehow aware of Hex’s existence has him drafted in to hunt and kill his old enemy.

There’s a beautiful woman involved as well (depending on your tastes) played by Megan Fox and supported, literally, by her corset.  Her role is under-used and reasonably pointless and I wonder if the missing bits of the movie fleshed out (see what I did there?) her role in more detail?

Anyway, there is gun slinging and one liners and fights and bad guys and dark good guys.  It ticks the boxes, no more, and delivers a short but meaningless 88 minutes of nonsense.  Not bad, not good, just present.

Centurion

Neil Marshall’s output has been a little bit hit and miss for us.  I’m not a big fan of the overt horror in Descent, although I loved the blackly comic Dog Soldiers, and I enjoyed Doomsday despite the flaws.

So I wasn’t sure what Centurion would deliver.  Set at the time Hadrian started building his wall, the movie kind of tells the story of the Roman 9th legion.  Kind of, because it’s actually about a Roman soldier who’s not in the 9th legion, but joins it temporarily.

The legion comes up against the native British Picts, and the movie really covers the results of that encounter.

Centurion contains Neil Marshall’s trademark gore.  The hand-to-hand fighting is brutal and blood soaked, there are exploding heads and departing limbs a-plenty.  There is significantly less comedy in Centurion than Dog Soldiers, but it’s not lacking entirely.  The commander of the 9th is particularly colourful and his introduction gives us a little glimpse of the magic scenes from Dog Soldiers.  The story in Centurion is pretty simple, a straight forward tale of betrayal with a hint of love.  The depth in the film comes from the incredible breathtaking scenery juxtaposed with the brutal combat and the rigid sense of honour in the lead from Michael Fassbender.

Fassbender is compelling, and his counterpart in the story (the mute hunter played by Olga Kurylenko) provides a worthy adversary.  There’s a reasonable amount of tension, and it’s never really clear who’s going to make it through to the end.  Treachery comes from all angles, while  Quintus Dias (Fassbender) struggles to keep his men alive.

I enjoyed watching Centurion, and while it had some excellent moments, it didn’t deliver the constant high quality of Dog Soldiers.  Worth a watch, especially if you’re a fan of Roman historical fantasy, probably higher quality than Doomsday but not Neil’s best.

Salt – different cuts

So apparently, the three different versions of Salt on the Blu-ray are all pretty different, certainly the endings vary quite a bit.  So your enjoyment of the movies is likely to vary greatly depending on which one you watch, which one you see first, and how you feel good movies should end.

The theatrical release is quite open (i.e. easy for a sequel), the director’s cut is similar but more sinister, and the extended edition is pretty much completely different.  We watched the Director’s Cut assuming it would just be a little bit longer, and we enjoyed it.  I think I like the ending more than the other two options having read up on them, but we’ll never know which one I would have enjoyed more.

So, be careful if you buy / watch the Blu-ray, make sure you know what you’re letting yourself in for with your choice of cut.

Salt (Directors Cut)

I can’t think of many major spy action movies in the last 20 or 30 years which had women in the lead roles.  I can think of three if we count movies which include women as assassins who may or may not work for the government.  La Femme Nikita, Mr & Mrs Smith and Salt.

The last two both star Angelina Jolie.  I’m sure you folks can think of a few more (considering how narrow my movie experience is).  But it’s still pretty telling.  It’s trivial to reel off loads of spy action/thrillers starring men, and it’s no surprise that this is the case.

Salt was originally written for a male star (Edwin Salt was the character), but after negotiations didn’t work out, they turned to Angelina and re-wrote the lead as Evelyn Salt.  Personally, I love Angelina’s acting and that colours my perception of any movie she’s in.  This is an action movie first and foremost, lovingly employing many of the tropes we expect from the spy movie genre.  The role is no less physical than it would have been if the character had remained male, I suspect, and for me, Evelyn’s actions were more believable than perhaps a male characters would have been.  I expect, of course, that the bits which make a lot of sense for a female role were added after Jolie was cast, but still, it works well.

The plot is reasonably simple (I’ve seen some reviews saying how it was horribly complex, but not so for me).  Early in the movie, Evelyn Salt is accused of being a double-agent, and the movie centres around her subsequent actions and peeling back the onion-layers of her life so we can find out the truth.  Whether she is or not isn’t really that critical, it’s how she behaves and what she believes she has to do as a result that matters.

In this respect, it’s similar in story to the first Mission Impossible movie, but then, when you’re writing about spies you only have so many options.

Jolie is excellent in the lead role, supporting actors are good enough although there aren’t many other roles.  While I liked both Liev Schreiber (her CIA boss) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (CIA counter-intelligence), if I have one complaint about the movie it’s that they weren’t strong enough and could have done with more screen time.

The pace is excellent and non-stop once the initial bomb is dropped, and although I was able to work out pretty early on what was really going on, it didn’t spoil the actual film, and I did start doubting myself before the big reveal.

I cared about Jolie’s character and I cared what happened to her.  I wanted her to succeed whatever side she turned out to be working for, and she sold the emotional elements of the role very well.  The fights were choppy and I felt she was underused in some sections when she demonstrated in Wanted and Mr & Mrs Smith she’s more than capable of pulling off the physical stuff.  But that’s a minor gripe in what otherwise was an enjoyable and entertaining spy action movie.

It’s not going to turn into a classic, but it was classy, well groomed, well paced and well received in this house.

The problem with posting reviews …

Is that eventually your opinion will come back to haunt you.  I was just re-reading some of my reviews of movies, and it struck me that I may be completely insane.

Did I actually say that Attack of the Clones was more ‘entertaining’ than Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring?  What kind of a dick would say that?  Apparently – me.  Here.  I’m not sure I still think that was the case, but clearly at some point I did.  I’m not in the habit of making shit up, especially not stuff that makes me look like an idiot 4 or 5 years later.  I think it’s kind of fascinating how your own opinion or view can change, sometimes without noticing, over time.

My memory now is that Attack of the Clones was weak.  But how much of that is my memory and how much of it is being reminded for the last 4 years about how terrible it was?

These days, I can’t conceive of many movies being more entertaining than the Lord of the Rings, I love beyond all measure of love the extended movies.  But let’s be frank, there’s still a fair amount of trudging goes on in the third one.

Maybe reviews should be ephemeral.  They should fade over time, they are the product of a moment.  Your mood at the time, the context, the situation, the journey to the cinema or the day you had before you put in the DVD.  They are coloured by your expectations and your desires, and then as time moves on and you watch the movies again, or hear about them, or understand more about your own views maybe your opinion changes.  You come to love something more or perhaps see flaws where there were none previously.

Maybe it’s naive to imagine we should always feel the same about any kind of art.  That somehow ranking something or giving it a score sets in stone how much we like it.

I was reading a piece on Den of Geek this morning, including references to how Blade 2 was better the Blade.  If anyone reads my review of Blade 2 they’ll find I had a slightly, different, opinion.  But if I watched it now is that how I would feel still?  Was I so disappointed because it was bad, or because it was not at all what I was expecting?  I ordered fish and got steak.  Even if the steak is awesome, if you were expecting fish you’re going to be a little unhappy right?  But a few years later you can look back and think, hang on, that was a mighty fine piece of cow after all?

Perhaps.  Maybe I’ll get Blade 2 on DVD and have another look.

So anyway, what’s the point?  The point is, all my reviews are a view from a point in time, in the moment, expressions of what I felt at the instant I wrote them.  No more.  Maybe no one cares but me, I was just surprised to read back some of the things I said about movies I thought I hated or loved, and marvel at how my view has changed.

My perception.

And hence, my truth.

An open letter of apology to Edgar Wright

Dear Mr Wright,

to be fair, this is more of a confession than an apology.  I didn’t go and see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in the cinema.  I’m sorry.  You see, we couldn’t really afford the cash or time to go and see two movies really close together, and I had to choose.  The Expendables or Scott Pilgrim.  This may not seem like much of a choice for fans of the Scott Pilgrim comic books, but I’m not really a big comic book fan.  Never have been, not likely to change now.  I grew up with Stallone movies, and I was suckered in by the advertising.

I love Bruce Willis (who doesn’t), and I was excited to get the chance to see a film with all the great action heroes of my youth in one place.  I didn’t expect it to last for only a single scene and for the rest of the movie to be the Stallone & Statham show.  Don’t get me wrong, Jason Statham is just purely awesome, and the movie was okay (not great, but okay).  Pacing was a bit confusing at the start, but I digress.

So I had a choice, a comedy action movie that I thought would work just as well on the small screen (i.e. your Scott Pilgrim flick), or a huge action movie that I felt would be better suited to the giant screen of our local cinema (i.e. The Expendables).  We chose the latter.

It was, the wrong choice.

I knew I was going to buy Scott Pilgrim on DVD (in the end, I got the special edition steel book), so I wasn’t too worried, it would get my money eventually.  I was sad when the US Box Office figures were so low, but I don’t live in the US so I couldn’t influence them really.  I was confused when I found out the release date for the DVD in the UK was after Christmas, but that just meant I had to buy it myself instead of getting it as a gift.

But none of that matters.

I should have gone and seen it at the cinema, because it was freakin’ awesome!

I laughed so hard it hurt.  I can count on the fingers of two fingers the number of movies I’ve watched and then instantly wanted to watch again, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is one of them.  We’re seriously thinking of watching it again tonight (my wife loved it as well).

Some films I saw in the cinema and regretted doing so, because they weren’t very good.  Some films I got on DVD and asked myself why I had waited so long.  Never before have I bought a film on DVD and wished so badly that I could have supported it in the cinema at the time.

It is such an effortless movie to watch, belying the intense effort and attention to detail that clearly sits beneath the surface.  It was a joy.  Not just a pleasure, not just enjoyable for it’s own sake, but a joy to experience as an actual experience.  I don’t just want to talk about the film, about what happens and the cool bits, I want to talk to people I know about how I enjoyed the experience of watching it, what emotions it evoked, how it made me feel.

I am sorry Edgar Wright, for picking the wrong film to support at the cinema.

Please, go buy this movie.  Not because it’s good (it is), not because it’s epic (it is), and not just because it’s stomach achingly funny (it is).   Buy it, not because it is beautifully shot (it is), and not because the soundtrack is wonderful (it is), but because it will make you a better person (and also, it will help alleviate my guilt, thanks).

What’s coming in 2011?

Here’s my quick list of genre, almost genre, geek or action movies that I’m aware of coming up in 2011 or 2012.  A few times during the year I’ll have a scour through IMDB, Empire Online, Den of Geek, and see what’s coming up.  I mail the list out to a few people.  I’m sticking it here as well in case they can’t be bothered to read the mail.

Sucker Punch (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0978764/
* http://suckerpunchmovie.warnerbros.com/

Steampunk, guns, dragons, robots, hot women, giant samurai, zombie nazi’s.  What’s not to love?  From Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen, Dawn of the Dead) it’s super glossy and super stylised.  I just hope the deep dramatic plot and character development shine through.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (May 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1298650/
* http://disney.go.com/pirates/index-on-stranger-tides.html

Well, it’s Pirates 4, no Orlando Bloom, and we have Penelope Cruz. But, we also have Ian McShane!  If they can get a tight story and wrap Johny Depp’s performance around it, like they did in the 1st one, we might have something worth watching.  If it is as loose and flabby as the third one, then we’re in trouble.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1399103/
* http://www.transformersmovie.com/

Optimus gets a trailer!  Bay promises that this time there’ll be more robots fighting robots, rather than robots sinking aircraft carriers and destroying pyramids.  I suspect there’ll be plenty of US Marine Heroic Man Vs Robot action as well.  Megan Fox (Mikaela) is out and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (Carley) is in.  No doubt there’ll be some deep and meaningful storyline to cover the Sam – Mikaela relationship breakdown and the arrival of Carley.  I’m personally hoping that takes up the first 90 minutes with the last 20 focussing on the robots blowing up something big.

Honorary non-Genre inclusion: Fast Five (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1596343/
* http://www.fastfivemovie.com/

Follow-on to Fast & Furious, which was the follow-on to The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift which in turn was the follow-on from 2 Fast 2 Furious which was a follow-on to the original The Fast and the Furious.  Cars! Men! Women! Thievery! Mad Driving Skillz! Rubber! And it’s number 5, see what they did there?

Thor (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800369/
* http://thor.marvel.com/

Natalie Portman gets top billing – that can only be bad.  Giant hammers, mythology, white supremacist storyline, giant blonde heroes, smashing and bashing!  Biceps!

The Green Hornet (January 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0990407/
* http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thegreenhornet/

Voted most unlikely super hero ever, Seth Rogan stars as The Green Hornet.  He’s lost some weight and gained some gravitas, but will he be the first dope smoking green hornet?  Surely it should be “Seth Rogan stars as the Purple Haze Hornet”.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (November 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1324999/

Because it’s in vogue to split your book movies into 2 now.  You might as well – doubles your income but only costs you a single movie option in the negotiations.  With a built-in audience this will do well, despite the writing being as anaemic as the main stars.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (July 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1201607/

The end – the finale – the last one – there will be no more (maybe).  This is it – Harry vs. the World.  It’s everything you’ve been waiting for if you’re 14 and read the books while you were about 7.  I kind of got bored after the one before the one before this one (keep up at the back) but I’m sure we’ll end up with them all on DVD.  Voldemort meets his match.

Drive Angry (February 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1502404/

Nic Cage, in a genre action movie.  This can only mean one of two things.

1. it will be awesome beyond your understanding
2. it will suck like an open chest wound (thanks Bin for that, I still love it)

There will be no middle ground of mediocre, or average, or okay.  Either your eyes will burn from hatred or burst with love.

“A vengeful father chases after the men who killed his daughter.”

Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0458339/
* http://captainamerica.marvel.com/

Adding to the stable of movies that make up The Avengers, Marvel bring us Captain America.  Personally, I’m dubious.  Thor I can almost buy, but Captain America?  It’s a guy with a shield?  I suspect this is one for the comic fans mainly, and patriotic American types.  Maybe Sarah Palin will endorse it.  But it’s necessary if Marvel are going to deliver their Visionary Avengers Movie.

Hanna (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0993842/

So if you felt really uncomfortable watching Hit Girl shoot people in Kick-Ass you’ll want to give this a miss.  14 year old Hanna turns out to be an assassin, raised by her CIA father and sent on a critical mission.  She kicks ass (see what I did there?) while being hunted by people with their own agendas.  It’s like Leon but in reverse.

Additional Honorary Non-Genre Comedy: The Hangover Part II (May 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1411697/

Because who didn’t love the odd paced, odd placed, original?  The boys travel to Thailand for a quiet pre-wedding brunch, hilarity ensues.

Your Highness (May 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1240982/

Trying to do comic fantasy movies is doomed to ultimate failure, for thou canst never beat The Princess Bride (inconceivable!)  However, some shmuck is going to have another go.  Danny McBride co-stars, Natalie Portman (she’s getting around) is seen wearing a thong in the red-band trailer (or big knickers in the non-red-band trailer) and it doesn’t look *too* bad.  But, the jury will be out and it’s got big shoes to fit in.

Limitless (March 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219289/

Copywriter turns into superhero – sounds like a script writer’s wet dream (search replace script writer with copywriter to make sure it doesn’t sound like I wrote it, mwahahahaha, mwahahahah).  Looks high-brow, we’ll see if it turns out to be high-frown (!?)  It’s got Robert De Niro but sadly that’s no longer the marker of a good film.  Bradley Cooper is having a good few years as well (Hangover, A-Team, this).

X-Men: First Class (June 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1270798/

Meh, another super hero origins movie.  The film industry is doing what the comic industry has done for years – take the same old super-heroes and regurgitate them over and over in slightly different latex outfits to shore up sales.  We’ll see if the public buy it.  I’m not interested.  It does have Kevin Bacon in it though, making Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon even easier to play.

Paul (February 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1092026/

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg’s latest effort, Paul is the endearing story of two comic book geeks who travel across America only to run into an alien at Area 51.  With comedy.  Like E.T. only funnier.  Hopefully.

Cowboys & Aliens (August 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0409847/

I think the title really gives the whole thing away.  From Jon Favreau (Iron Man/Iron Man 2, Elf!) and a personal project of his, this comic book adaptation brings together Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig in what fanboys are referring to as ‘Indiana Jones meets James Bond’, for some reason.  Also has Sam Rockwell, and the elf-like, ethereally beautiful Olivia Wilde (Thirteen from House).  Oh, it’s about aliens invading, and being fought off by cowboys, with the help of an alien.  So basically, like Outlander, but in the West rather than Norse.

Green Lantern (June 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1133985/

If you thought 2010, or 2009, or 2008 were the year of the Super Hero movie, you were wrong.  2001 to 2020 are going to be remembered as the 20 years of the Super Hero movie.  The Green Lantern stars Ryan Reynolds as, erm, The Green Lantern, who gains a mystical green ring that gives him super powers and makes him one of an elite group of protectors of something critically important which must not be discussed.  And he then does Good Things[tm] for the benefit of all mankind.

I Am Number Four (Feburary 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1464540/

Some teen flick about some hot kid who turns out to Be Different while also Being Awesome and proves that you can Be Different and still Be Liked, teaching all kids an important lesson while glossing over the deep prejudice towards Good Looking People.  Or something.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (December 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1229238/

A lot could change before the end of 2011, but at present, this is the fourth MI movie, it does star Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, but so far only has Simon Pegg returning from any of the previous movies (that I can see).  No real plot details yet, rumours are a ‘handing over’ of the role from Cruise to to someone else.  But who knows.  Maybe by the time we get to December it’ll all be different.  I bet though, there’s some secret mission to retrieve someone/something that involves jumping out of tall buildings.  So, I’m in.

The Wolverine (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1430132/

It’s not a sequel to Wolverine, oh no, it’s just another part of the story, we promise.  Hugh Jackman getting his jacket off and cutting holes in things with his finger nails.  Hopefully it’ll have more jeopardy than the first one and so be worth watching.  Oh you want the plot?  “Wolverine travels to Japan to train with a samurai warrior.”  So like the Karate Kid, but with more Adamantium.

Red State (March 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0873886/

A Kevin Smith horror movie, low budget, high production values.  It’s Kevin Smith, there’ll be bad language and witty one liners, but a horror movie should be an interesting stretch.  I don’t do horror – but I’ll make an exception in this case.  Kevin wrote the script for this, unlike Cop Out for which he was just director.  Reviews look good so far.  Edit (4/1/2011) : Bad choice of word – there are no reviews, since it’s clearly not been shown (it’s due to show at Sundance at the end of January).  Feedback / comments / previews / choose a word that works better.

Sherlock Holmes (no title yet) (December 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1515091/

Robert and Jude are back in the sequel, and I hope it’s better than the first, which was good, but there was room for improvement.  I love the mix of modern and historical, loved the banter, and loved the story.  Fingers crossed this is worth seeing.

Red Riding Hood (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1486185/

Girl meets boy, girl’s family disapprove, boy might turn out to be werewolf, hilarity and complications ensue.  Anyway, two words – Gary Fucking Oldman.  Worth watching it just to watch him at work.

World Invasion: Battle LA (March 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217613/

Renamed movie (was Battle: Los Angeles) can be described in only one line (from IMDB) which both tells you everything you need to know, and why you should watch –

A Marine platoon faces off against an alien invasion in Los Angeles.

Marines – check.
Aliens – check.
LA backdrop – check.

Ooh-rah!

Source Code (April 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0945513/

Interesting premise – a soldier wakes up in the body of an unknown man, and has to work out who is *about to* bomb a train.  If you watch the trailer you see him waking up again and again ala Sam in Quantum Leap, each time remembering a bit more and having to work harder to find out who does it before it happens.  Like Groundhog day married Quantum Leap and had Deja Vu flavoured babies.

Super 8 (August 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1650062/

JJ Abrams top-sekrit not-Cloverfield movie.  Train wrecks, nasty monsters, and TOP SEKRIT PLOT.  Here’s the IMDB overview “Next Summer, It Arrives.”

See, capital I in It.  Clever JJ.

The Apparition (September 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1433822/

College kids release evil spirit who then haunts them.  No gin involved.  But, looks like some skimpy underwear involved so that’s okay.

The Smurfs (August 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472181/

Blue! Smurf-tastic.  Coming next smurf, this smurf movie of smurf is smurftastic in all smurf ways, and will smurf your smurf more than ever before.  Smurf.

Kung Fu Panda 2 (June 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1302011/

Fat is Back!  All the fun of Jack Black without having to look at his ugly face.

Unknown (February 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1401152/

Liam Neeson gets to play another brooding man in a suit in this thriller.  He’s been in a coma, someone else is pretending to be him, no one believes him, confides in a woman, sets out to prove he is who he says he is.  Top man.

The Three Musketeers (October 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1509767/

Milla Jovovich in a corset.  Sold?  I was.  Also, men with swords, buckling swashes and doffing hats.  Periodtastic action.

Sadly, has Orlando Bloom in it.

Priest (May 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0822847/

Didn’t I already send an e-mail about this?  Paul Bettany (who is a king among men) plays a priest, in some weird future society with vampires, who sets out to rescue someone.  But who cares why, did you see the bit about FUTURE APOCALYPTICAL SOCIETY WITH VAMPIRES?

Rise of the Apes (August 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1318514/

Since it’s technically impossible to ruin a movie as efficiently as Tim Burton ruined Planet of the Apes in 2001, for which I’m still refusing to forgive him, this ‘how they became the talking apes we know and love’ prequel must theoretically be worth watching.

Also, Tim Burton had fucking nothing to do with it – so that’s good.  Andy Serkis gets to play a hunched humanoid with dodgy interpersonal skills.  Again.  Typecast much?

Anyway, I actually quite like the premise, “An origin story set in present day San Francisco, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.”

Real Steel (October 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0433035/

Sci-Fi Boxing Drama – Transformers meets Rocky.  With family relationship issues thrown in for free.

Now (September 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1637688/

I like this one – it sounds original.  Everyone lives to 25, after which you can live for ever, as long as you can pay to remain 25.  The rich are immortal, the poor have to beg, borrow and steal to make it through another day.  I’m not even biased that it stars Olivia Wilde (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1312575/), although that certainly helps.

Conan the Barbarian (August 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0816462/

If I have to describe this, then I clearly didn’t mean to include you in the distribution of this e-mail, forgive me.  For everyone else – CONAN!  With RON PERLMAN! And staring Jason Momoa as Conan (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0597388/).

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_c3ZUAeRf9HI/TEEaLPRIQ1I/AAAAAAAAAHs/6Wi5R_2KZ_Y/s1600/The+Barbarian+Jason+Momoa+as+Conan.jpg

Stop drooling at the back.

The Adjustment Bureau (March 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1385826/

With any adaptation of a P.K. Dick story you can be sure of two things,

1. it will involve paranoia
2. it will be confusing

Let’s hope Matt Damon can keep our interest during this latest adaptation of the master of paranoia’s work – “David learns he is up against the agents of Fate itself-the men of The Adjustment Bureau-who will do everything in their considerable power to prevent David and Elise from being together.”

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1293847/

They should have called this xXx 3 Dropping Vin was Stupid.  Vin tried to distance himself from each of the movies he starred in, instead going on to produce their sequels (The Fast and Furious, xXx, etc.) and the sequels tanked.  So he’s decided if he wants to make money, he should maybe continue doing the thing that made him money in the first place.  So he’s back in both his major franchises, and you can bet there’s a third Pitch Black coming soon with him in it.  In xXx Vin is back as Xander Cage, and he’ll do silly stunts in order to achieve impossible goals.  Yay.  Also, he plays D&D so we need to support him.  Also, is Samuel L. Jackson up for the ‘most supporting actor roles in history’ Oscar?

Contagion (October 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1598778/

Matt Damon (again) in a remake by any other name of Outbreak.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn (October 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0983193/

Tintin!  The Thompson Twins!  Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg (hardest working British actor OF ALL TIME).  Tintin!

The Eagle (March 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1034389/

Roman soldier seeks golden emblem – please send contact information if you have located it.  Honour at stake.

Red Dawn (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1234719/

Chinese and Russian soldiers invade a town and are repelled (we presume) by some local teenagers.  Like ‘home alone’ the party version.

Immortals (November 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1253864/

Clash of the Titans, without the Titans, and with different Gods, but otherwise, the same, but hopefully better, but then it does star Mickey Rourke so it could go either way.

The Thing (October 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0905372/

Prequel to The Thing.  I still think they should have called it ‘The Other Thing’, or ‘The Second Thing’ or ‘Another Thing’.

National Treasure 3 (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1197627/

Not much detail yet – but yes, apparently, they do think they can make another one.

The Killer Elite (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1448755/

Assassin movie – with Clive Owen.  And De Niro.  AND JASON STATHAM!!!  I’m buying my tickets RIGHT NOW!

I don’t know the plot, I don’t care, it’s got The Stath.

The Witches of Oz (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1592287/

If I told you almost anything about this movie, you wouldn’t be interested.  But I can tell you one thing that ensures you’ll see it.  The single most important thing.  The critical thing.  The One Thing.

The Wizard of Oz is played by – Christopher Lloyd.

See, told you.  See you there.

Wanted 2 (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1262421/

James McAvoy is back – but we’re not sure if anyone else is and so we’re not sure if it’ll be worth seeing.  All the best characters died.  To be fair, ALL the characters died.

Fright Night (October 2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1438176/

Yes, they remade it.  With fucking Colin Farrell. And David Frigging Tennant.    I refuse to watch it.  I will watch the original 20 times before I watch this steaming pile of childhood memory robbing garbage.

I’ll probably buy the DVD though.

Zombieland 2 (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560220/

Still in development, so late 2011 or early 2012.  I’ll be there though.  Who wouldn’t?

Red Sonja (2011)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0800175/

The girls get Conan and the boys get Red Sonja.  Sadly, she’s played by Rose McGowan so it would be like having a fantasy involving your frumpy ugly maths teacher – in other words, pointless.

The Avengers (May 2012)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0848228/

The ensemble Super Hero movie Marvel always wanted to make will finally arrive.  Maybe.  Finally.  Perhaps, in 2012.  Iron Man! Thor! Captain America! The Hulk! Black Widow! Hawkeye! War Machine!   All together, on the big screen, at once!  Because you know, we love movies with so little focus on one character that they turn into a soup of explosions and shitty dialog.

Other 2012 highlights,

The Dark Knight Rises (i.e. Batman 3)
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1345836/

Not much detail yet.  I hope Bale drops the STUPID voice.

Battleship
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1440129/

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.

This can only be so terrible as to be awesome (it’s ‘inspired’ by the game, in case you’re wondering).

Star Trek 2
* http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1408101/

No title, but the whole cast is back, let’s just hope they drop the red matter bullshit.  We don’t need any origin story, so I’m hoping for 90 minutes+ of tachyon beam based fun.

Spider-Man reboot

Meh.  Why?

Superman re-reboot

Meh.  Why?

Gaming diary redux

So, I’ve decided to stick to simple categories instead of marking the diary posts as part of an article.  So gaming diary posts are in that category and movie diary posts in their own.  I’ve hacked the category page a little so that the post titles have the dates next to them (and they naturally show in reverse date order, newest first anyway).

That avoids any complexity, I can just name the posts after the game or film and let WordPress sort out the rest, but people can still see them in the right order as it were.  The only other issue is that I’ll probably write any gaming diary posts a few days after the fact, so now I have to work out if I’ll post-date them to match when I played or not worry about it!  I know, I know, I should just go with the flow.

Gaming and Movie Diary

A couple of folk I follow on Twitter write gaming diaries, where they talk about the games they’re playing / have played.  Not reviews as such, but just an update on what they’re playing.  I thought I might give it a shot with both games and films.  I’ll start with the games I played over the weekend, and I think I’ll expand it to include more than just computer games.  You’ll be able to find them in the regular blog posts, but they’ll also show up in the relevant section in the articles page.

The Expendables

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of action movies.  Movies are a form of escapism, and heroic sacrifice driven action movies always take me away from the mundane world and keep me amused.  I can cope with a lot of cheese if the action is dramatic and the quotes memorable.  I don’t need much of a plot.  Some good guys, some bad guys, a reason for the good guys to be after the bad guys, and I’m a happy man.

Cool shots, dramatic action, sassy dialog and plenty of sarcasm and the movie is approaching action nirvana.

I grew up with two kinds of movies.  John Hughes / Harold Ramis / John Landis comedies, and Stallone / Schwarzenegger / Willis / Lungren / van Damme / Gibson action flicks.  My tastes are clear.

It was therefore with both excitement and trepidation that I sat down in the cinema today to watch The Expendables.  So much potential, so much that could potentially go wrong.  There have been three ensemble action movies this year.  The Losers, The A-Team and The Expendables.  Unable to commit to seeing them all – we picked The Expendables by dint of timing and health.

Was I going to leave the cinema regretting it?  Was it going to sour lasting memories of enjoyable 80’s action flicks?  (Could anything sour it more than Twins?)  Was I going to be left with a lasting image of 60 year old men trying to relive their best years?

No, no and well, yes actually in that order.

The Expendables gets plenty right and only a few things wrong.  I thought it was actually too slow in places, some of the bonding scenes didn’t have enough pace or enough wit to elevate them to the right level of interest.  However, that’s a minor quibble in what otherwise was an excellent homage to the 80’s our rose tinted glasses show us.  Don’t be fooled by the trailers, this is actually quite a small cast.  Willis and Schwarzenegger have tiny walk on roles (and I’m not even sure they were all in the same room).  The focus is Stallone, Statham and Jet Li and for me that ended up working really well.

I love Statham and he plays this role to the hilt, I wouldn’t describe his acting range as ‘broad’ but this isn’t the Transporter or Crank or Lock Stock.  His by-play with Stallone is great and if they’re not great friends in real life I’ll eat my socks.  Jet Li is suitably amusing, Stallone is superb, Dolf is hulking and brooding, Randy Couture was surprisingly entertaining and Terry Crews was okay.  The weakest roles were the bad guys, they were pretty flat cardboard cut-outs and never really delivered any serious menace.  I could have done with a Hans Gruber or a Karl, maybe even a Mr Joshua.

After the setup to demonstrate how Bad Ass our heroes are, and an underused relationship bit with Statham and Charisma Carpenter, we are given the rest of the plot in 3 scenes and then slowly watch the tension build (too slowly at times).  Just before the final epic action sequence started I was thinking ‘there hasn’t been much actual shooting yet?’  But they fixed that!

Mickey Rourke added an interesting reflective moment, which you can take on the surface to be banal and patronising or you can choose to accept it for what it is – a statement that if we give up on others, then we’re basically giving up on ourselves as well.  I was glad they used Mickey as the wizened old wizard archetype, I’m not sure it would have been credible watching his pot belly take on the bad guys.

As I said, the interplay between Statham and Stallone was excellent, and the chemistry between all of the main good guys was very good.  These guys clearly respect each other and clearly know how to poke fun at themselves.  The conversation with Schwarzenegger felt forced but it got some good laughs (he wants to be president).

There’s plenty of exploding bullets, vehicles and bodies once the action gets going, and I laughed as much as I cheered.  I’ve seen reviews which say the movie was tired, awkward or ancient.  I can’t disagree more.  Rather than remake the movies of the 80’s and get it so glaringly wrong (hello Clash of the Titans), Stallone has lit a candle for the memories we have of how good those movies were, and given us something to cheer for in an otherwise bleak world of terrible reality.

The Expendables – it is what it is and it’s very good at being it.