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It was back on this day in 1996, that I finally purchased my first Widescreen TV. It was a 28″ Sony Trinitron and though old hat by today’s standards, this was state of the art CRT Flat-screen technology at the time.
But after this I never looked back and have obviously come along way from this landmark. Later, Laserdisc, DVD, Dolby Digital, Projectors and Blu-ray would follow.
The featured image (above) is NOT the first Sony TV, this actually the replacement from 2003 as the original was stolen in a burglary.
Will 2012 and its major 3D re-releases, such as Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace and Titanic spell the end of the 3D revolution? Is it all a step to far into crass repackaging a kin to the colourisation buzz of the 1980′s, a process with was ultimately seen off by Hollywood’s elite such as Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg the 3D advocate George Lucas (Star Wars)?
I understand the need to re-present films of such importance as Titanic, which held the record as the highest grossing movie of all time, until it was unjustifiably overtaken by James Cameron’s own Avatar, but is adding 3D to older films just step towards cheapening the movie? Granted, King Kong’s colourisation didn’t do the original any harm but still, it’s a shame that Kong and It’s A Wonderful Life have become so synonymous with this issue.
Personally, I’m just going to wait and see but there’s no doubt that we can do without this, and that there is absolutely NO NEED for this version but hopefully nit will live up to its potemtial and hype. I’ll be there regardless next April.
DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
The idea of another X-Men movie filled me with dread, after the poor X-men: The Last Stand and the misjudged Wolverine. But I was in for a surprise. Wise choices had been made, with Matthew Vaughn of Kick Ass fame in the directors chair, and Bryan Singer, director of the first two superior X-Men films this time-serving as producer. The casting, which included James McAvoy as Proffessor X and the Michael Fassbender and Magnito, to name but a few, both excell as younger versions of the iconic characters.
Set in 1962, the plot it multi-faceted but revolves around Magnito and his hunt for Kevin Bacon’s ex-Nazi mutant, who was responsible for the death of his mother. Bacon is on a typically diabolical quest to rid the world of humans as he believes that a nulear holocaust will feed the mutant genes and propel them to top of the food chain. Meanwhile, Charles Xavier, or Professor X as he will so be known, has become involved with the CIA begins to gather his first X-Men.
McAvoy is delivers a, forgive me, First Class performance as a young Patrick Stewart, with every inflection, tone and gesture recreated, in fact at times it was a little creepy. But there’s a lot to praise here, and not just the crew and the acting. The film’s sixties tone is fresh yet familiar, with strong leanings towards James Bond, but not so much a hammy recreation but as if it was naturally filmed in the era. I know though that this is wholly subjective and many would disagree but I feel that the tone was equitable to that of L.A. Confidential, in the fact the here the 1960′s have been conveyed in such an accessible manner, as was the case with Confidential’s 50′s setting.
But heart was the key to this film. At the films heart is a sort of trinity between Xavier, Erik, and Raven; or Proffessor X, Magnito and the shape shifting Mystique. It is established very early on that Xavier and Raven have become inseparable childhood friends, but when Erik turns up as they’ve grown, he offers her a very different view of herself than the conformist Xavier has.
Xavier is presented here, and consistently in regards to the rest of the franchise, as trying to live side by side with humans, whilst Erik’s view is that mankind is the enemy, and mutants are the future. Coexistence is not a viable option. Raven is caught between the pair, as Xavier encourages her to present herself as human whilst Erik offers her the freedom to be a blue naked chick. The one that we all know so well.
But when all the 60′s James Bond gloss is done away with, and Kevin Bacon’s super-villan, entertaining and typically well performed by the underrated Bacon, though it is, it’s this philosophical debate which is at the heart of X-Men full stop. It’s about racism, prejudice and natures concept of survival of the fittest. But, this is not what the 132 minutes of X-Men: First Class is about. It’s about mutants fighting, the Cuban missile crisis, which actually works better than you might think and the evolution of the characters that we all know, with plenty and I mean plenty of nice nods to the future or previous films, depending your point of view.
I had a lot of time for this. Granted, it’s not a perfect film and no film is, but it left me with great feeling afterwards. The film had offered of interest, excitement and decent character development and is a worthy entry into the franchise as a whole, certainly on par with the best entry, X2, a film which until Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, I thought was the best comic book film that I had seen.
X-Men has always been an interesting concept, whether it be in comic books, cartoons or features, and like I said earlier, the issues that it touches upon are real, important and poignant, and even though films must generally opt for action and gloss over the nitty-gritty, I feel that this film was within the bounds of balancing the two well. This was a top class film and lets hope that it is just the first the planned trilogy, and that Matthew Vaughn, who has again proven himself in this genre, continues to direct.
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
Bridesmaids: The mare mention of the title filled me with a sense of dread as my fiancée, and that is of course relevent as marriage is imminent for me in five weeks of writing this review, told me that we were seeing this. A chick-flick comedy from the Judd Apatow stable following the comic misadventures of a group of bridesmaids, and I must add that I’m not a real fan or follower of Apatow’s work…
Well, what a treat this was. Yes, it is a chick flick but this was also a real movie, cleverly conceived, executed and played, with humour, heart and mild drama portrayed in equal measure. The comedy aspects were funny and at times, some hilariously so, and the drama, most of which centered around Kristen Wiig’s, Annie Walker, and her failing life. Through the course of the film she looses her apartment, job, business, her friends and her self-esteem.. Or does she?
The plot is simple: Her best friend is getting married. Annie is her Maid Of Honour but is almost penniless, man-less and somewhat insecure. Everything goes wrong, including a very well judged gross-out sequence involving food poisoning, and I mean well judged in the sense that a scene involving vomit and loose number 2′s could have become totally gross when in fact it chose to show what it needed to, to convey the scene and nothing more.
Meanwhile, the bride has struck up a friendship with her groom’s boss’s wife and one of her other eponymous bridesmaids, Rose Byrne, who is rich and somewhat over the top, giving Andrex puppies out as party favours at one point, for example, which opens the door to the inevitable conflict between the two bridesmaids. Byrne is the new best friend and leaves the lifelong friend that is Wiig standing, and that friendship in danger.
In my experience there are three types of Chick Flicks. The Formulaic, usually starring Kate Hudson or Matthew McConaughey, or both; The Indie, offering more character but little plot; or this, The Proper Film, with a bit of everything offered in reasonable proportions. Heart, plot, thrills and spills. This had some great moments, with the food poisoning fitting, the excellently played flight to Vagas and the wig out out, pardon the pun, at the Bridal Shower. This had all the hallmarks of a classic with real staying power, up there with the likes of Airplane!.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable comedy, well cast and composed. Though it was predictable in a way, it wasn’t too much so, still leaving plenty of room to sit back and soak it up. Highly recommended and this has certainly raised the bar for modern comedy, at least for me.
DIRECTOR: Rob Marshall
Based, believe it or not, loosely, on the Tim Powers novel, On Stranger Tides, Pirates 4 seemed about as appealing as hole in the head after the diabolical sequels to the excellent first outing. Then it was to be in 3D, scrap several key characters and shed the direction of Gore Verbinski, in favour of Chicago’s, Rob Marshall. A recipe for disaster? It seemed that way.
Though saying that, Gore had certainly sealed his fate with me, turning what was a well conceived, action adventure romp with some very memorable characters into an unnecessary epic saga which seriously missed the point and derailed itself. One dubious decision taken in the production of Dead Man’s Chest, was to keep Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly’s characters, let alone giving them so much prominence.
Knightly was fine, for the first film,. in fact, she was spot on, but she couldn’t carry the role any further and began to look ridiculous as the series progressed. This should have been the adventures of Jack Sparrow, so excellently portrayed by Johnny Depp, and Geoffrey Rush’s, Barbossa was the perfect pirate. So I was more than pleased to see the continuing adventures of these two characters, with Depp, returning to form after I felt that he had lost it in the sequels.
Penélope Cruz was another pleasant surprise, as never being a fan of her’s, I was dubious but this was casting done properly. She was more than convincing as a pirate and put Knightly’s efforts to shame. But what of Ian McShane’s Blackbeard? Well, another great showing from him, but the inexplicable magic displayed as he waves in his 3D sword around and points it at the camera to remind us that 3D is here, not so much.
But the 3D was pretty naff. You could watch most of the film without the glasses, with the effect being limited to several sequences. It looked good, it was inoffensive and unobtrusive but what was the point again? I don’t think that this film will do 3D any real harm but that’s because nobody really noticed it in the first place.
The sense of adventure from the The Curse Of The Black Pearl was evident here and long over due. I find it puzzling as to why so many reviews have been so harsh, branding it boring, overly complicated and not pulled together properly, but I would disagree. Granted, it is a bit scrappy, it’s not going to be used as case study in tight scripting, or deep character development and it is somewhat derivative, but it was fun, flashy and flamboyant.
Isn’t this what these films are all about? Depp created a classic character with Sparrow back in 2003, and tough I felt that he was a one trick pony, Sparrow that is, not Depp, this was a partial return to form, under new direction from Marshall. But I am left feeling that no matter how much I enjoyed this for what it was, the first Pirates Of The Caribbean was a film which successfully transferred a theme park ride into a career defining blockbuster, but I feel that it should have remained one film, a single triumph and not a franchise that has been saved in my eyes, by the fourth instalment.
DIRECTOR: Steven Hopkins
Let’s face it. Irwin Allen’s 3 seasons of Lost In Space are hardly Science Fiction TV at its best but it was entertaining at the time I suppose. So was it a good idea to make a blockbuster feature based upon it? Probably not. But to be fair, Lost In Space, the film that it, isn’t that bad. It adopts the original series’ opening two episodes into a high-octane actioner, with state of the art special effects, a high-profile cast including William Hurt, Mini Rodgers and a young Heather Graham, not to mention the films’ coup, the ever pitch perfect Gary Oldman doing a brilliant interpretation of Johnathan Harris’ Doctor Smith.
And then there was Joey, sorry, Matt La Blanc … playing Joey…
The film tries to add a darker edge, particularly regarding Smith, who is without a doubt, evil in this version and his life is certainly in danger from the Robinson family who feel, quite rightly, betrayed by him. The effects try to be ground breaking and spectacular but generally look animated and failed to live up to their promise. But the story is ambitious, fast paced and exiting but childish and hampered by its pacing at times. It moves from one event to next with little pause for thought.
Overall, it’s a shame as the potential is apparent but with the exception of Oldman, the cast unsuccessfully hams it up and the direction is bombastic to the extreme. The mentality of this film seems to be as loud and as brash as possible without any real justification, but it is colourful and pacey so as a kids film it may well work, but as an around blockbuster and adaptation it fails to live up to its potential.
Disappointing though this was back in 1998, I still watch this every now again so it must have some staying power when all is said done. Fun but flawed…
N.B. This should have been published on the 4th October but due to an oversight, it slipped through the net!
So, better late than never…
The Empire magazine’s website, currently has a promotional article on what it views at the Top 10 Movie Prequels.
My view of a Prequel is that it is essentially a Sequel set before an already produced film, so Star Wars: A New Hope would not qualify as a sequel to Episode III, as it was the first of the franchise.
Their view is somewhat different. We start with Batman Begins, which could be loosely classed as a prequel but it don’t actually play in the same universe as Tim Burton’s Batman, so it would strike me more as a Reboot. Then, Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, which though set prior to Raiders Of The Lost Ark, it is not set before to establish character or circumstance, its primary aim was to show that the stories or chronicles of Jones would not be constrained by a linear universe, and like any story told by anyone, can be plucked from any time.
X-Men First Class, fair enough and I would accept Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, but Manhunter! Manhunter was made in 1986, first and five years before Silence Of The Lambs so at what point would this be a prequel? Though Red Dragon, the third of the Anthony Hopkins led series would be.
The Good, The Bad And The Ugly I would accept, and have not seen Internal Affairs II, but Star Trek is another mixed bag. Good reboot but not a great prequel as it offered little in the way of connection to the Star Trek universe which we know and love.
The Godfather Part 2? Really? A Prequel? It was clearly a sequel with flashbacks to before the first film, but the core story played as a continuation of the first film which should surly qualify it as a Sequel… and finally Casino Royale. Bond return in a narrative prequel but clearly a reboot not too dissimilar to Star Trek.
Overall, the article is contrived, poorly conceived and makes little sense. It would seem to have been thrown together at the last-minute and has a little understanding of what a Prequel actually is or what it would take to qualify as a great one. poor work from the premier film magazine… this time.
DIRECTOR: Steven Spielberg
Jaws defined the Summer Blockbuster in 1975; Then Close Encounters secured the fledgling Steven Spielberg as a popularist tour de force in late 70′s but by 1982 when E.T. was first released, he also had the first Indiana Jones hit under belt. But it was his 1981 Special Edition of Close Encounters which will obviously become relevant as a trend-setter for director’s who either by studio pressure of a failure to fully realise their visions, to revisit their previous hits.
But E.T. was a phenomenal hit, at a time of Ewoks and Muppets, when Spielberg went through his phase of making saccharine sweet kids films and the period that even at the time, I disliked the most. The 70′s brought us an edgier Spielberg, with broken homes and very real takes on families but E.T. takes this and portayed a single mother of three children as rather weak and ineffective, in contrast to those who had come before.
Some might argue that it’s not about her, rather it’s about the child’s eye view of the world as a whole, but I don’t think that it works. But more to the point, I simply don’t see the point! The story seems to be paper-thin and can be summed up with a sentence rather than a paragraph. “Boy meets alien and alien goes home”.
The music is good, the direction is good for what it is, but the tone is confused, misguided and only half done. The edginess just isn’t there and the production seems cheap by comparison to his other movies, even Jaws which was done on the cheap by comparison.
Overall, I feel that this film is one of the most overrated and boring films that I’ve ever seen and the Special Edition does not help. And I also take unbridge with the fact that he’s opted to digitally remove the guns in favour of walkie-talkies in this version, again talking any semblance of edginess out of this sugar-coated tome.
I love Spielberg’s work, but the 1980′s were not his strongest period in my opinion personally I favour his early classics and his post Jurassic Park/Schindler’s List works.
DIRECTOR: Peter Cattaneo
I first saw this back in 1998 on a first date. It was pretty much our last date but I’m sure that, that had nothing to do with the film! This was a runaway hit back in the late 90′s, made on a shoestring and grossing almost $200,000,000. This is a simple story of a group of unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who, all in need of cash, form a male strip group and perform at their local Working Mens Club.
This is a warm-hearted look at the harsh realities of broken homes and the deprivation in Britain caused by Thatcherism and mass unemployment. The relevance to today is all too close for comfort but in the midst of this depression, we follow the evolution of a solid bond between the troop as this motley crew work on their routine and deal with the various issues which will eventually lead them onto the stage and the titular Full Monty.
I was 19 when I first saw this. Single, childless and living at home with my parents. Now, 33, a married stepfather to four, my outlook on this film have changed. I always thought that it was very funny, and that the performances and casting where first-rate but now, I suppose I’m more susceptible to the emotions of the piece. I was genuinely touched by the film which is reminder of harsher times, that we may well experience again.