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Saturday, 23 March 2013

Green Lantern

In brightest day, in blackest night... don't ever, ever watch this shite.


With a new Justice League film in the pipeline, I thought it might be interesting to revisit the 2011 Green Lantern - seeing as it potentially will tie into the DC universe in the same way that Iron Man, The Incredible HulkCaptain America and Thor tied into the enormous success that was The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble  if you're unfortunately like me and British). I had high hopes when I started the film again, thinking to myself: okay, it can't be that bad. That's what I hoped.

Green Lantern stars Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, an army fighter pilot come daredevil come ladies man who, after encountering a fatally wounded alien, is entrusted with one of the greatest honours in the universe: joining the Green Lantern Corp. The film then its pretty predictable: Hal joins the Corp, doesn't want to be a part of it, but in true fashion American Style, finds the courage to save Earth and become accepted by his fellow lanterns.

Let's talk about the one saving grace of the film: Ryan Reynolds. I know he has done a few iffy films in the past (*cough* Just Friends *cough*), but I think he pulled off the role really well. He captured the hedonistic and fearless essence of Hal Jordan, and if he is to be included in the new Justice League film, then I am confident that he will do a great job.

Okay, with that done, let's get started with the bad things. Firstly,  I felt that the villain of the film, Parallax, was wasted. I'm sure there are die hard fans of the comics that would argue that this was an accurate portrayal of the yellow entity, but to me, it looked like a form of explosive diarrhoea with a head - something that most hungover people think is arguing with them when they void their bowels on a Saturday morning. Another problem with the film other than 'Space diarrhoea Godzilla', is that the film is too short. The personal struggle of Hal coming to terms with taking on this immense task is highlighted but never fully developed, meaning that there is a lot of wasted potential. I'm not saying that the film should mirror the same personal conflicts that we saw in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, I just felt that Jordan's story was never real enough for the audience to connect with him. When you watched Nolan's films, they hurt; you felt Bruce Wayne's struggle. In this, however, it feels as though it doesn't even try.
I know it's a film and I know that there isn't a green army of space police watching over the universe, but if this happened to any normal person - I mean a purple alien giving you a ring that looks like it came out of a cracker and asking you to join a secret band of space warrior - I am sure the response wouldn't be to just accept that this is what you must do. But in this film, it doesn't seem to phase Jordan, even when he is on the alien planet Oa being trained by Kilowog (voice by the late and great Michael Clarke Duncan). If someone I know asks me to do them a favour, I even have to think whether I can be bothered, let alone doing something on the magnitude of joining the Corp.

If this had been the first official film in a Justice League saga - in the same way Iron Man kicked off The Avengers Phase One, then I wouldn't be holding out much hope. I'll admit it's not the worst film ever, but with a poor script and flimsy plot, not even a magic power ring could make it better.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

HFR reviewed


As many of you know, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been in cinemas for some time now. I saw it the first weekend it released, but due to the chaos that is Christmas and feeling rather lethargic after over-indulging on mince pie and an array of unhealthy food, I didn’t have time to review it. Not that it’s an issue, as I am sure that you could find many review dotted all over the web with people expressing their love or hatred for Peter Jackson’s return trip to Middle Earth. I previously saw the film only in 2D, however, today I to take a return trip to Middle Earth and see the film again in 3D HFR. HFR, or High Frame Rate, intends to make the visual experience as real as possible, increases the speed of the frames from 24 per second to 48 per second. The result is a more lifelike and fluid looking film, narrowing the gap between reality and making what the audience see feel real.

After hearing the mixed reviews that the preview footage received, I was not too bothered about seeing An Unexpected Journey in HFR. After seeing the film today in the different format, I can see why people had their concerns. There is no denying that the visual scenery of New Zealand Earth is breath-taking, making it look as though the film is a documentary of Thorin and Company’s quest to Erebor through Middle Earth. However, this realism, when applied to the CGI and the actors, doesn’t look as cinematic, making it harder for the audience to suspend their disbelief. At times I was watching and could tell when the actors were on a set and not on location; I could see the contact lenses in characters eyes and could tell when they were standing against a green screen. Just like the Uncanny Valley theory in 3D technology and robotics, the attempt at making the film as realistic as possible ultimately causes the audience to feel manufactured and artificial, thus making it impossible for the audience to believe in what they are seeingFor me HFR is like caviar: it’s high quality and is provided for those who like to overspend on simple things; you enjoy it for a short while but when you realise what it is actually consists of (namely fish eggs) you’re not as keen on it as you thought you were. I would go as far to say it looks like shit but that’s a bit harsh on the film, seeing as caviar really does look like shit.

For me, my first experience watching a film in HFR feels very much like the first time I watched my first 3D film – which was Avatar (2009) if anyone cares. Personally I am not a big fan of 3D. It is a gimmick that intends to provide the audience with something unique but ultimately fails to deliver the desire effect. However, if it is done well and does not include scenes with blatant and overt uses of the technology – like some of the effects in The Final Destination with blood-covered poles and champagne corks popping out into the audience like you’re watching a 3D short film at an amusement park – then 3D does have its good points.  The same can be said for HFR: it’s clunky, unnecessary, and the film can be enjoyed far more without it. However, as I said before, if it is done well – as in the case of An Unexpected Journey – then it is a brilliant cinematic experience. Yes, there were occasion where the film felt fake and contrived, but I can’t deny the beauty of some of the imagery and sequences and the way they were shot – including the escape from Goblin Town and the Stone Giant battle which are much more exciting to watch in both 3D and HFR. I will say that when The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again are released, I intend to see both in 2D first to appreciated the story, then HFR 3D to enjoy the visual experience. 
Perhaps HFR may not be the future of cinema, but it is a superb visual treat nonetheless. As Gandalf said to Bilbo, every good story deserves embellishment.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Skyfall


 
2012 was always going to be an interesting year in cinema. The summer boasted comic book thrills with both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises establishing that the superhero genre is still alive and thriving, while fantasy fanatics are still eagerly anticipating the release of the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – could the year get any better? Well, it just so happens that it does, with the release of a relatively small film called Skyfall. I say relatively small, as I feel the twenty-third Bond film has been somewhat overshadowed by the earlier successes of 2012. It is no surprise following the dismal display that was Quantum of Solace, a mad cocktail of a film that was big on thrills – as seen in The Avengers - but lacking the emotional backbone and narrative – as seen in The Dark Knight Rises - that the film desperately needed. To add to the problems of Bond 23, the complications with studio funding made the project seem like an almost impossible task. However, after four long years of waiting, Bond is back – but the question is this: is it better than ever?

After the electrifying opening title sequence, which involves, car chases, bike chases, train chases, diggers on train chases – and all the other madness that are associated with Bond – I knew we were in safe hands. The title song by Adele began, and I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Skyfall focuses heavily on M and her past, as her previous and guilt-ridden actions have caught up with her in the form on Raoul Silva, played with a smirk of wickedness by Javier Bardem. Having been presumed dead, Bond must come back to service to combat this new threat.

As I write this, I can’t help but draw similarities with The Dark Knight Rises. In the same what that Bruce Wayne has to come out of retirement to combat the diabolical foe that was Bane, Bond must return to service to prevent Silva destroying that which is most dear to him. Both show broken men having to come up against a seemingly indestructible adversary and suffering greatly as a consequence. This element is a rare thing in the Bond series, or certainly a rarity in the more recent films. We see a man who is questioning his purpose and whether he is capable of overcoming the burden that he has willingly accepted. Daniel Craig presents a vulnerable Bond, a man who can bleed and questions his own abilities. This is what makes Skyfall stand head and shoulders above the rest of the films in the series. Many people have said it is the best Bond film, others have criticised the low levels of action. Here we have a film that does provide beautifully choreographed sequences and intense thrills, but has a solid narrative that triggers an emotional response with the audience.

Being the 50th anniversary of the series, there are several wonderful nods to the past that would make any die-hard Bond fan go weak at the knees. The women are stunning, the jokes are witty, and the Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery – complete with ejector seat and headlight machine guns – looks as beautiful as ever. You couldn’t ask more from a Bond film. This is the addition to the series that we as a loyal audience have been waiting for; now we finally get out reward. I can only sum up by saying that Skyfall is a mixture of thrills, laughs and tears that not only make it one of the best Bond films, but one of the best films of 2012. I can safety say that Bond IS back and it IS better than ever. Roll on Number 24

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Asylum of the Daleks


Rating - 8/10


Finally, after a long eight months of waiting, Doctor Who is finally back where it belongs, and I have been getting twitchy for time travel since Christmas Day of last year (has it really been that long?). Excitement for the new series has been building for a long time, with the news that the Ponds (Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill) are leaving in the first five episodes and the introduction of a new companion at ‘Christmas’ (you know what I mean). Regardless of the news of coming and going companions, the main reason we watch the show is to see Matt Smith return on fine form as the bowtie wearing elegant-shambles portrayal of the Doctor. It has been a long wait to see the show on our screens, let’s just hope it was worth the wait.

The first episode kicks off Series Seven with the return of the Doctor’s most notorious enemies: the Daleks. Apart from a few brief cameos in The Wedding of River Song, The Big Bang and The Pandorica opens, the pepper pots have been off the screen since Victory of the Daleks back in 2010. In this episode we were introduced to the new multicoloured ‘Power Ranger’ Daleks, which replaced the familiar golden bling Daleks that had become a familiar sight on the show since its revival in 2005. Since their last appearance, I started to realise that the Daleks have lost their original fear-factor and have become a pantomime like enemy that never really imparts a sense of terror. Steven Moffat, head writer of the show, argued that they are probably one of the most easily defeated enemies in the universe, and as s a result they have lost their ‘scariness’ and importance within the show. He said: "There's a problem with the Daleks. They are the most famous of the Doctor's adversaries and the most frequent, which means they are the most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe". Asylum of the Daleks attempts to establish the Doctor’s greatest enemy as a foe that sends a chill down your spine rather than a colourful dustbin with attitude. But did it work?

For the majority of the show, Asylum presents the Daleks in the callous and vindictive manner that we have not seen in recent years. We are presented with a dumping ground full of insane and uncontrollable Daleks that are feared even by their own species – now that is creepy. That answers the question: how do you make the Daleks scarier? Present the one thing that terrifies them – which just happens to be their own species. I thought the idea of the Asylum was genius, and was able to provide a real treat for fans of the classic series We got to see not only the bling and Power Ranger Daleks back on our screens, but every Daleks throughout the history of the show including the Special Weapons Dalek, Necros Daleks, Imperial Daleks to name but a few. This was undoubtedly one of the most elaborate and bold Daleks episodes that we have seen in recent years, or perhaps have ever seen.

With regards to Series Seven, this episode throws the Ponds back into the Doctor’s life at a point when their marriage is at an end and they can barely talk to each other. It is clear that the cosy, lovey-dovey relationships that we saw in the last two series, along with the happiness of travelling with the Doctor as a couple have been shaken and may never be the same again. How their relationship changes before their departure in The Angels Take Manhattan is unknown, but I am sure that we as an audience are in for a rollercoaster ride of terrors, laughs and tears.

So what did you think of Asylum of the Daleks? Are the Daleks back to their old ways of terrifying people? Comment below, let me know or contact me on twitter @Rohanseal221B

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises


Director: Christopher Nolan

Certificate: 12A

Rating: 8/10

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Following the final seconds of Christopher Nolan’s hugely successful film The Dark Knight, people have been eagerly anticipating another caped crusader film to hit cinemas. On the July 20th 2012, four years after the Joker unleashed anarchy onto the streets of Gotham, the dreams of many were fulfilled in the concluding chapter of the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. The speculation and hype surrounding the final Batman film has been unlike any other, with fans creating their own teaser trailers on YouTube and mocking up posters to tease fellow enthusiasts about possible plot threads or villains that may or may not be playing a part in the conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy. The question therefore is this: did it pay off?

Eight years have passed since the events of the previous film, where we saw Batman taking the blame for the murders and chaos caused by Harvey Dent – this lead to Dent being regarded as a hero throughout Gotham, while Batman was labelled as a murderer and forced into hiding. Now, Gotham faces a new threat in the form of the formidable mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy). Unlike the Joker – a man you revelled in chaos – Bane is a figure who is methodical and precise in his actions, plotting to hit Gotham where it hurts the most and raise it to the ground. Along with Bane, the gorgeous Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathaway, is the sexy femme fatale figure who flirts her way through difficult situations and comes out looking just as good as ever. Her relationship with Batman and Bruce Wayne is intriguing, with their love/hate relationship becoming one of the key elements of the film’s success. Whereas Bane if the brute force that seeks to destroy the city, Selina Kyle is the female antithesis and parallel of Batman: she could be good, but she chooses not to. Her selfishness separates her from the side of good, but her vulnerability is brought into focus by Batman. However, more importantly: Hathaway is so, so sexy. Along with the leading villains, the familiar characters all play their parts perfectly. It was nice to see more of Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox; however, the absence of Michael Caine as Alfred in the majority of the second half of the film was noticeable. Gary Oldman remains an excellent Commissioner Gordon, while Christian Bale is still brilliant as the enigmatic and damaged Bruce Wayne.

Overall, the film felt like a conclusion, an epic finale that finished the Bruce Wayne story perfectly. For me, the film did not have the same impact as when I saw The Dark Knight, but the story is very different to anything we have seen before. I know for a fact that there will be people out there who if asked what their favourite film in the trilogy was, all three instalments would receive high reviews. What you get at the end is three brilliant films that tell very different stories – a trilogy that is greater than the sum of its parts. The other question is this: Is it as good as The Avengers? In terms the story, then yes The Dark Knight Rises has far more depth to it. With regards to effects and spectacle, then The Avengers may slightly top it. The Avengers is a superb popcorn flick, a summer blockbuster, a film that generated a level of excitement that hasn’t been seen in cinemas for a long time, whereas The Dark Knight Rises becomes the better film the longer you have time to think about it. You will be leaving the cinema unsure whether it was better than The Dark Knight, but then when you get home you with say to yourself: ‘actually that was pretty amazing’. Yea, it is a bit over serious in comparison to The Avengers and even The Amazing Spider-Man, but a fun and epic adventure nonetheless.

As I finished writing this review on a film that I have looked forward to for many years, I feel excited and content I have seen it and was pleased with the result. However, I also feel somewhat upset that it is all over, and that I will never see the film again for the first time or experience another Batman film from Christopher Nolan. But in the words of Dr Seuss: I must not cry because it is over, I must smile because it happened.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Doctor who: Asylum of the Daleks




So the new series of Doctor Who is fast approaching, with rumours circulating concerning what is in store for the Doctor, Amy and Rory in 2012. It has been announced that Karen Gillian and Arthur Darvill will be leaving the TARDIS after the first half of series 7, making way for the new, unnamed companion played by Jenna Louise Coleman. There final battle will see them tackling the Weeping Angels, a fan favourite monster that has captured the imagination of the most recent generation of Whovians. However, another foe is set to reappear in the first episode of the series. I am of course referring to the Doctor’s ultimate enemies: the Daleks.

The last time we saw the pepper-pots on our screen was back in Victory of the Daleks, when we saw them posing as the creation of Edwin Bracewell’s, the “Ironsides” in World War II London with Winston Churchill. Head writer Steven Moffat decided to rest the Daleks, with the demonic dustbins making sideline appearances in The Pandorica opens and The Big Bang, along with a very brief cameo in The Wedding of River Song. Moffat expressed his attitude towards the Daleks before series 6 was released. He said: "There's a problem with the Daleks. They are the most famous of the Doctor's adversaries and the most frequent, which means they are the most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe."

Their return is scheduled to be in the opening episode of series seven, with the title 
Asylum of the Daleks. It has been reported that not only the newly designed and 2005 style Daleks will make an appearance, but every single Dalek throughout the history of the show, including iconic designs such as the Special Weapons Dalek! As you can guess, this is exciting news, but will it pay off? If it works, this is billed to be the most elaborate and boldest Dalek episode ever, but if it doesn’t, it may appear to be just an idea that was thrown together for the sake of trying to bring back the Doctor’s greatest adversaries after a long hiatus. However, I personally cannot wait, and think that the fan concerns and criticisms regarding the Daleks recent incarnation – such as the Power Ranger style designs – will be put to bed forever. Moffat has rarely (well, never thinking about it) let us down, and I don’t think he will do any time soon!

So what do you think about the Daleks returning? Is there another foe of the Doctor that you would like to see return at some point? Let me know below or via twitter!
@Rohanseal221B

Friday, 25 May 2012

Skyfall - Teaser Trailer


The Bond franchise is one of the most successful and scrutinised in the film industry, with nearly 23 films that have told the adventures and victories of one of Britain’s most beloved spies: James Bond. The first teaser trailer for the latest Bond film Skyfall was released last week, revealing very little of what we can expect from Daniel Craig’s third adventure as 007. Even from this trailer, I believe Skyfall will surpass Quantum of Solace in terms of plot, as I am sure many of you will agree that the last film was – to put it nicely I suppose – terrible. Although it was intended as a follow on from Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace felt like an added hour and forty minutes that was unnecessary and weighed the film down. Craig was still brilliant as Bonds, but the film was high on thrill, with some of the best actions scenes I have ever seen in a Bond film, but lacked any emotional depth.
However, from the one minute twenty-four second trailer I feel that the story has engaged me far more than the previous film ever did. Taking part in a word association exercise (I assume – if anyone knows please let me know), Bond confidently responds to the words thrown at him. Then upon hearing the word ‘Skyfall’, Bond freezes for a moment, then utters a single word: ‘done’. It raises numerous questions: What is ‘Skyfall’? How does Bond Know about it? How has Voldermort suddenly grown his hair back?  (That’s not really a question because we all know that smug guy next to M is in fact Ralph Fiennes, but you can see what I mean). We know that the film is based upon MI6 and certain secrets involving M, so whether or not she is initiating ‘Skyfall’ as a code name for a operation or if it is a title for a pre-planned attack on MI6 is yet to be clearly established. I guess we will have to wait to find out.

 So what do you all think of the trailer? Has it whet your appetite for more espionage thrills following a four year gap since the last Bond film? Do you have any opinions on the word ‘Skyfall’?

What the trailer yourself at the link, comment below, let me know, or contact me via Twitter.