Saturday, 4 August 2012

Five films, five bottles and five reasons to visit the cinema in 2012 Ud 09/08/12


So far, 2012 has been a glorious year for films and has seen some of the most eagerly awaited blockbusters explode onto our silver screens.

I've seen many films this year and some have disappointed, bordered on mediocrity and even threatened to be good.

I'm sure that some films have enticed you through a convincing advertisement but when seen, you feel like demanding a refund.  Let's just say that Cineworld, Reel and Vue have a tab....

However, there are some that leave you breathless and buzzing soon afterwards.

The worst thing about seeing a huge film is that it's not as good as what you thought it could be or indeed, should have been.

Are any guilty or this?  Maybe, maybe not but that question will be answered providing that you're willing scroll through this smoother than a high quality FPS.

I have five bottles of alcohol that I'd like to share and discuss.

I'll virtually guarantee that three of these would not be considered a blockbuster unless you had several gallons of Russian Standard.

That of course does not shy away from the fact that they are great movies in their own right.

The other two party pieces are jukebox favourites at a wedding.

Each will be given a rating and hints at or infers what would complement each after viewing these delicious dishes.

These were seen on opening night and I’ll discuss each on order of release.  Trust me, I only see a movie on day of release if it's something I really can't wait to see before 'cheap' night comes around...  It's just not the same.

Apols in advance boys and girls but there maybe spoilers contained within opinion but in my defence, the majority of which aren't exactly newly released.

Lights, camera, begin.

Chronicle - Dir. Josh Trank

I eagerly anticipated this one, ever since I saw the trailer for it, and boy it didn't disappoint.

This is a superhero film and not in the traditional sense, which sounds interesting in itself.  Three social outcasts find a spectacular and unworldy find that allows them powers that all of us dream of being able to do.

They don't use them to help people, but instead for their own gain.  As you'd expect, and due to their adolescence, at first it starts out as a laugh as they experiment with these unnatural strengths for amusement (much to the bemusement and dismay of others).

Forcing objects to float, creating lego stacks, performing magic tricks with a difference and flying at will is all in a day's work.  Andrew (Dane DeHann) is the primary char and he never goes anywhere w/o his video camera so the spectacular is never missed.

When these powers don't even get you laid, you know this isn't your average sci-fi corny piece of tack.

Andrew gradually loses it and uses his powers for negative and to devastating effect.  His life isn't exactly a barrel of laughs as his mother is seriously ill and his father is a violent alcoholic who uses Andrew as a punching bag whenever he's had one too many.

The effects are great (considering the budget) and the CGI is not in the least bit cheesy and fake.

No complaints from the acting either, considering they are young and a bunch of newcomers.  DeHann is well supported by his other two outcasts and while important to the story - it's sensible that others aren't overly used. 

The obvious Akira comparisons during the fantastic and memorable climax doesn't dilute an obviously great film.

Rating - Grolsh

Project X - Dir. Nima Nourizadeh

This is one party that nobody could ever forget.  This is one party we'll dream of and one party I'd give my leftover kebab to be part of - this is Project X.

Costa (Oliver Cooper) organises a birthday party to end all birthday parties for his friend Thomas (Thomas Mann), and along with their other cohort, JB (Jonathan Daniel Brown) they hope this will be the key to unlocking the tag of been cool and popular.

When the party begins, it's a little boring to those involved but when many 'others' become part of it, things just spiral the fuck out of control and unleashes a sequence of events and moments that leave you aghast with bewilderment.

Of course it's cool, but not so cool if your parent's house is gradually being destroyed and everything you wished wasn't happening, is.  Everybody and everything goes mental and while it's obviously totally and utterly ridiculous, you can't take your eyes off it as it is undeniably insane and thoroughly compulsive viewing.

Neighbours, ovens, cars, inflatables and a dog are all important cogs in this machinery of mayhem.

You have to take this film for what it is - a complete an utter explosion of entertainment.

Commendable acting, sexy, unbelievable and loaded with more WTF moments than you can shake a length at.

The gnome is almost as important as the party itself.

I've tried not to spoil it too much, so do yourself a favour - watch it.  Even if you have, watch it again.

Rating - Kronenberg

Prometheus - Dir. Ridley Scott

This is the first proper blockbuster and one of the films of the year.  Surely it is, and while very good it left me feeling slightly unfulfilled.

Is it a prequel to Alien, well it's certainly set in the Alien universe but is a new take on Alien, but not as we know it.

We all have to remember that Scott only directed the seminal and classic 1979 original.  After which, he passed all responsibility to others and apart from Cameron's departure from suspense to action, Alien 3 and stupidly; Resurrection are best forgotten.

So he planted new roots and it's certainly a bold approach to reinventing his own classic.

The result is a rather pretty flower.

Explorers of the vessel, the Prometheus seek an answer to the origins of mankind.  Of course, it would be naive to believe that an 'unexplored' alien world would not come with consequences and imminent dangers.

While not overflowing with peril, there's certainly enough to be wary of.

The Ripley wannabe could never dream of stepping into Sigourney's high heels and hopefully Scott never intended her to.  Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) is the main protagonist and eager to find out about 'our beginning' and although she does a decent enough of job, she isn't fit to apply Weaver's lipstick.

Who is outstanding though is synthetic and/or android David (Michael Fassbender), a Ash/Bishop hybrid, who does a striling job of portraying the internal milky matter.  Ian Holm and Lance Henriksen protraying previous nastiness and benevolence respectively would be impressed by his performance.

It's very good but grievances are necessary.

The main villain is a space jockey and while fairly formidable, it's a rushed whinge rather than a holler on how he bows out.

While competent, apart from Fassbender, Scott could have chosen better actors and Weyland (Guy Pearce) just doesn't look right.  His appliances and make-up is fairly poor and OTT.

Finally, our Liz performs a DIY caesarean and how can she move freely after such an operation?  Bullshit!

Much remains unexplained about the alien world but did Scott intend the audience to draw its own conclusions?

The ending (as a result of that C Section) inevitably signals another and we see the birth to a familiar but undeveloped intergalactic beastie.  While it's corny, the ending could have been a lot worse.

Incredibly, there are positives amongst the disappointments.

As mentioned, the android is great and very watchable.

The sets and effects are fantastic (especially those holographs) and the suspense is built up expertly by Scott.

In 3D, those effects (the dust storm in particular) really worked as usually I avoid watching films in this dimension, like a fly avoids an ancient turd.  Why?  It's simple, I consider it a cash cow and usually they don't bring anything more than 2D does.  Okay, this was an exception.

"David, we are leaving!" and the way an infected gets squashed under an 'APC' are highlight homages to us Aliens geeks.

Overall, it's great but I was hoping to label it excellent.
Rating - Carlsberg Export

The Dark Knight Rises - Dir. Christopher Nolan

Brief spoilers will be mentioned but I'm not feeling particularly guilty about as anybody, who's anybody has seen this film by now.

Penultimate noise time.

This is the big one, this is the hulking dinosaur; w/o a doubt, the skyscraper of all films in 2012 and the epic conclusion to Nolan's reboot of Batman.

The Dark Knight was excellent and while intermittently boring, Heath Ledger was just magnificent as the Joker and surely he had to be bettered in the final part to complete a memorable trilogy.

So after much speculation when playing ibble obble black bobble, Nolan chose Bane as the ultimate villain from the Batman universe.

Tom Hardy portrays the mask wearing and physically terrifying behemoth to upset Batman and Gotham and while he does a very decent job, he ain't no Joker.

Sensibly, he poses a very different adversary and he definitely looks the part but to some, doesn't sound the part.

Fair enough, there are obvious requirements to distance him from Ledger, but he blunts my blade.

That's not been an asshole to Tom Hardy as I think he did what he could, and did it very well but nevertheless...

Batman is more of a pathetic figure this time and lives life as a recluse.  Wayne Enterprises is in the red, Alfred is getting increasingly worried about his master and upon meeting Selina Kyle, her sex appeal just adds to his ailing testosterone.  It's time to don the cape again and show Gotham what they're missing.

Bane is a beast of an obstacle and he ain't moving anytime soon.  He punches, blows up, blocks, breaks several necks and even releases a bunch of violent prisoners to add to his wanted chaos and stirs the toxic appetite for destruction.  Yeah baby, yeah.

I liked his voice but others found him muffled.  This ain't a subtitled film and did Nolan ever consider to subtitle him, well of course not as it was neither required or even bad.  So no probs from me on his speech front.

Bale is good, Caine maintains his credibility as Alfred and Oldman is great again as Gordon.

The trouble with this one is that there are some chars that are needed about as much as colonists need face huggers.

Hathaway is just there for eye candy and nothing else.  I'm not saying she's awful but this film could have survived w/o her feline input.

The scene with Scarecrow was cornier than a tub of Green Giant and Bane's death was just over quicker than a steroid induced 100m final.

Did Bane really need a helping hand?  Apparently so in some woman and daughter of deceased Rha's al Ghul (Liam Neeson), League of Shadows et al.

That really pissed me off as I wanted an epic fight and while I suspected Bane wouldn't survive, I really didn't expect him to make such a rushed and swift exit.

I mean getting shot by Selina - c'mon, that is just horseshit.

I have more complaints, when Bane cripples Batman, why choose to throw him in a prison to die and give him a chance to recover and escape?  Why not shoot him though the head and thus pose no further threat to his Gotham destruction.

All that I can say is that he hasn't watched many James Bond films and what happened to the villains in those hey Bane?  What he lacks in intelligence, he more than makes up for it in brawn.

I know there wouldn't be much of a film left but even so.

While some will disagree, I didn't like the ending either.  If they're suggesting that you can have Robin w/o Batman, that's like saying you can have Riggs w/o Murtaugh.  Nah, don't like it and wouldn't buy it even if was for sale in a second-hand shop.

So after all that, it's still very good.

Bane is a fine villain.  Costume, scenery, set pieces, vehicles and action all hit the comfy spot.  Hardy handles his acting, almost as well as he handles his fighting and physique.

The Dark Knight ensured Nolan gave himself mountain to climb, as opposed to a hill.  I'm afraid he couldn't scale the giddy heights of TDK (with or w/o Bane).

Rating - Stella 5 (I can't believe we have to say that, as the original 'wife beater' used to be 5.2%) and there was no such thing as Stella 4.

Wait a minute, I'm further insulted as it's now been weakened to 4.8% (just like Carlsberg Export).

Appalling - it won't be long before all beers are more pathetic than Fosters or Carling.  They have less taste than a Korma and less bite than a toothless crone.
Politics!

Moving on and finally.....

Ted - Dir. Seth Macfarlane

Well a totally different type of movie now that should raise more chuckles than a tortuous session with a feather to the foot.

Again, I'm not sure this was considered a blockbuster, but it certainly deserves to clean up and reap recognition.

I'm a huge Family Guy fan but honestly, even if you hate the Griffins, just go and watch this.  I'm sure you'll have no choice but to take it for what it is - a very enjoyable and funny film.

The basic idea is a nothing original but nevertheless - effective.

A friendless young boy gets a teddy bear as a Christmas present and wishes it become real so they can be friends for life.  Of course it comes to pass and they spend their lives together but when John gets a bit of totty - their friendship is pushed to the limit.

Mark Wahlberg is great as the immature John Bennett who just can't let go, Mila Kunis sizzles as his estranged girlfriend Lori Collins and Ted (voiced by Seth Macfarlane), hilariously adds the crude and lewd in every possible situation.

Crude humour is taken to a new level but thankfully, it's not Chubby Brown and hence, very funny.

Bennett's life sees him regularly get stoned and generally waste away with Ted so when Lori is pushed to the limit, an ultimatum is issued - the classic 'me or him' or in this case 'me or Ted'.

Ted moves out and forced to fend for himself in a bedsit.  His job interviews and the results of which are rib-tickling. 

When Ted inevitably pisses John off, he's told where to go.  When Ted gets kidnapped by unstable father and Ted obssessed son, Wahlberg doesn't hestitate to come to the rescue of his inappropriate friend.

Family Guy has always got away with 'certain' jokes and Ted is no different.  Also, because the shackles of television have been broken, the 'language' is now freer than a bird.

Ricky Gervais will always be seen as David Brent, and Macfarlane may struggle to shed the skin of Peter Griffin because as Ted, you'll picture the lovable oaf especially when a sentence containing 'bastard' is spoken.

That's hardly a bad thing of course.

There are so many laugh out loud moments and scenes but when it gets really funny, it becomes hysterical.  The hallucination of Ming the Merciless was the highlight for me.

To top this humourous slice of pie, you can even enjoy one of those Family Guy 'fights'.  I won't spoil it as instead you just must see it as it really kicks ass.

It's never boring, has a great supporting cast, boasts an excellent script and it just moves effortlessly from one situation to the next. 

Not content with just been just a brilliant comedy, it's also quite heartwarming and the ending is nicely done.

Amongst others, spot the clever Indiana Jones reference too - blink and you'll miss it.

Take your girlfriend, take your mates, shock your mum and grandma - it's a must see.

Superb stuff!

Rating - Guinness Foreign Extra

I originally had grave reservations about the Total Recall reboot but now, I'm really looking forward to it.  We all don't have too much longer to wait for this new lick of paint....

In an imminent sense, The Expendables 2 can at worst, only be entertaining and the prospect of Van Damme fighting Sly is worth seeing alone.  I will see it on 'cheap night'.

Another potential goodie is The Bourne Legacy.  The other films were rather good so another is just fine with me.

Turkeys and bombs are adopted names you associate with terrible films.

The Pact is one such movie.  What a load of shit.

Here are a few others.

Another hype machine was The Woman in Black and that was also awful.

Even bigger was The Hunger Games.  While it was okay, I was hoping for it to make my kettle whistle.

Storage 24 was okay for a low budget British horror flick but if they expected to get away with the Aliens rips, they were wrong.

Lockout was a Guy Pearce prison action vehicle and while nothing original, it was quite good fun.

Chernobyl Diaries was a disappointing and boring mess.  It could have been so much better but instead, was largely bollocks.

So that's that.

Here's to what has so far been a quite fantastic year for the big screen (even if some were far from perfect).

There's still a few biggies to come and what will overshadow most is The Hobbit in December.  That's one Christmas present I'll be unwrapping early...

One final thing, for everybody who likes a pint or bottle of the black stuff.  If you haven't already, try Guinness Foreign Extra - its ABV is 7.5% and is a delightful tipple.

It's a bit more expensive than the other original and draught varieties and only comes in small bottles, but definitely quality over quantity here folks.  For some strange reason, not all supermarkets stock it and I haven't 'stumbled' into a pub yet that pulls it.

For what it's worth, Asda sell it.

Cheers!

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