THE STAR WARS SAGA SO FAR… (PART 2)

December 13, 2015

star_wars_logo

With less than a week to go until the release of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, we are going to take look at what nEoFILM thought of the saga so far. Yesterday, it was the Prequels, today were all about the Original Trilogy.

All have been posted before but as nEoFILM gives way to its equally epic celebration of the one of cinema’s greatest sagas, I thought that a little context may be helpful before Thursday…

EPISODE IV

starwars_poster1977 (Theatrical Version (“STAR WARS”) (DVD)

1977/1981 (Theatrical Re-release (“A NEW HOPE”) (VHS & Laserdisc)

1977/1997 (Special Edition) (VHS & Laserdisc) 

1977/1997/2004 (Enhanced Special Edition) (DVD)

1977/1997/2004/2011 (Blu-ray Enhanced Special Edition) (Blu-ray)

DIRECTOR: George Lucas

May Contain Spoilers!

Is there really much left to say about Star Wars, seriously? This is the most famous Science Fiction film of all time and well deserved too. The simple story of a farm boy from the planet Tattoine who finds himself embroiled in an inter-galactic conflict, or Star Wars, as it were, is handed brilliantly. The pacing is good and a firm step into the 1980’s in terms of action and special effects, let alone away from the more dour 70’s era of realism and slow burn pacing.

But Star Wars is somewhat derivative, sourced from The Seven Samurai (1954) and The Dam Busters (1955) to name but two, and with The Lord Of The Rings flanking them both, does this film really deserve the adoration of so many? Yes, it does. Just because it can be said that Lucas was very liberal with his homages to other men’s work, does not mean that this was not one of the grandest productions ever put on to film; boasting state of the art special effect, a real cinematic vision and a story of pure heart and spirit.

In this galaxy far, far away, good and evil exist, where shades are grey are almost no existent; redemption is a way of life and murdering Stormtroopers and anyone associated with the Galactic Empire is perfectly acceptable. The death toll in this U rated film is astronomical, with the Death Star obliterating the peaceful planet of Alderaan and the Death Star itself being destroyed with all hands by the well placed Proton Torpedo delivered by Luke Skywalker. Millions were left dead.

But, there’s no blood, no gratuitous violence, just the bad guys getting it at every turn,Obi-Wan’s death and Uncle Owen and Aunt Buru’s smouldering remains not withstanding, this was palatable for kids. The film has true universal appeal and unlike its prequels, is aimed at everyone and not just the children who are being market for with the endless supply of toys and merchandise.

But even after 35 years, Star Wars’ still impresses, with pure spectacle, excitement and fun. But even the endless “Upgrades” from Lucas himself fails to destroy the magic, though it would nice to see them as they were originally released on Blu-ray, and my views on Lucas’s lack of respect for Star Wars are well documented (see The Raping Of Star Wars By George Lucas).

Star Wars is a classic, pieced together from other classics to create something legendary; the phenomena which even after 35 years, is still going strong. Lucas may well have failed to recreate the success of this one, but that certainly does not detract from this gem.

 

EPISODE V

200px-SW_-_Empire_Strikes_Back1980 (Theatrical Version) (VHS & DVD)

1980/1997 (Special Edition) (VHS & Lasredisc)

1980/1997/2004 (Enhanced DVD Edition) (DVD)

1980/1997/2004/2011 (Enhanced Blu-ray Edition) (Blu-ray)

CANDLES 10

The template for modern cinemas love affair with sequels. “The Godfather: Part 2” proved that a sequel could surpass the first but this introduced the audience to something different.

Darker, different and unpredictable whist maintaining the magic that made “Star Wars” a hit, this lifted the saga from being just a sci-fi blockbuster to new heights as a movie iconoclast.

Nothing is safe after this. Sequels need not be more of the same but expansive and ground-breaking. Without this you might not have Terminator 2 (1991), or The Dark Knight (2008).

The story is advanced concisely as is the universe as a whole. Then, there’s the twist, let alone the cliffhanger ending. Ground-breaking cinema is something to behold and here we have one of the best examples.

Unfortunately these heights would never again be reached with the Star Wars saga, but this should stand tall as a tent pole as to how we do that…

A MUST SEE!

EPISODE VI

return-of-the-jedi-poster1983 (Theatrical Version) (VHS, Laserdisc & DVD)

1983/1997 (Special Edition) VHS & Laserdisc)

1983/1997/2004 (Enhanced DVD Special Edition) (DVD)

1983/1997/2004/2011 (Enhanced Blu-ray Special Edition) (Blu-ray)

CANDLES 7

DIRECTOR: Richard Marquand

May contain spoilers!

This is often thought of as the weakest of the original trilogy, and whilst I would agree with that, that’s not to say that it is bad. The phenomenon which had begun with“Star Wars”, six years earlier was about to conclude, or so we thought, with Jedi.

The first film had pioneered the technology and concepts of which to present and achieve such a franchise in the 1970’s and ’80’s, and “The Empire Strikes Back” is still the benchmark for part twos, but where this film falls down is that it has sacrificed narrative quality for Lucas’ realisation that he could finally do what he wanted, without any hindrance from studios or production limitations.

He had the best of best in visual effects with his Industrial Light and Magic, and he had a vision which had remained unrealised in the previous two films, such as the so called failed Cantina scene in “Star Wars”, which is presented here, only this time in the walls of Jabba’s palace.

The first half I believe, is George Lucas’ real film. Monsters and Muppets, pure fantasy as our heroes wrap up the events of the previous film, and make their daring escape from Jabba the Hutt. The second part is almost a separate film, focusing quite rightly on the Empire and the destruction of the second Death Star. But this plot is very matter of fact, and has no real charm or heart, just epic visuals and a theatrical sense.

Meanwhile, Han Solo and Princess Leia are leading a rebel assault on the forest moon of Endor, populated by the most annoying Muppets of all… the dreaded Ewoks! The Ewoks must be one of cinema’s greatest misjudgements, the first real misstep in Lucas’ handling of the “Star Wars Saga”; but with the prequels and the constant tinkering with the originals, this was to be the thin end of the wedge.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plot elements revolving around the Muppets which I liked, such as the nature vs. technology metaphor, but that does not excuse the Ewoks and nothing ever will! But elements such as the Speederbike chase and the final battle, all of it, the final Vader/Luke dual, the assault of the Death Star itself, and even the ludicrous Ewok assault, are excellent, visually stunning and exiting and it is enough to save this film from being bogged down by the bad.

And like I said, the money grabbing, almost narratively illiterate George Lucas has damaged and defamed his franchise with his constant tinkering, firstly with the Special Edition in 1997, and then with his Enhanced Special Edition in 2004 for the DVD release.

Lucas is a visionary and has done so much for the film industry and we should be grateful but in the end, he needs to stop milking this franchise, stop pretending that it is never finished, when he has finished it THREE times now and realise that the best of the original trilogy was directed and written by other people, all of which display more talent. Lucas is not a good director but he is a good producer and he has brought this franchise to the screen and the movie industry is better for it. But the Special Editions bring nothing important to the mix, with the exception of the finale, which does carry more scope that 1983 original.

Overall, the weakest of the “Star Wars Trilogy” is a fair assessment and at its worst, it’s still leagues above any entry in the prequels, even the Episode III, which is the closest to this high standards of this series.


THE STAR WARS SAGA SO FAR… (PART 1)

December 12, 2015

star_wars_logoWith less than a week to go until the release of Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens, we are going to take look at what nEoFILM thought of the saga so far. Today. it is the Prequels, tomorrow the Original Trilogy.

All have been posted before but as nEoFILM gives way to its equally epic celebration of the one of cinema’s greatest sagas, I thought that a little context may be helpful before Thursday…

EPISODE I

star_wars_episode_one_the_phantom_menace_ver21999 (Theatrical Version) (VHS/Laserdisc)

1999/2001 (Uncut) (DVD)

1999/2001/2011 (3D Version)

1999/2001/2011 (Blu-ray Enhanced)

DIRECTOR: George Lucas

May Contain Spoilers!

Dreams shattered. Never has a film or a film maker been subjected to such castigation as The Phantom Menace or George Lucas for adding to their own body of work like this.

Alarm bells rang out once the title was announced. The Phantom Menace… What do that even mean? It was not The Clone Wars or Rise Of The Sith, or anything that we had come to expect, instead, like the entire contrived screenplay, we were subjected to a campaign of “This isn’t gonna be what you think it is.” (Or want, apparently!)

The problem here is that if you wait 16 years to begin a three film prequel arch, then you better have one hell of a story up your sleeve and maybe you should have been a little more selective over the vast array of tie in novelisations, comic books and computer games, all of which seem to have used the best elements and plots for Star Wars.

What’s left? Well, nothing except for what we would expect, but is that bad thing? No, not really. We all knew that the Titanic would sink but that did not prevent a film about it becoming a top grosser in 1998. The problem here is Lucas himself.

He believes and I am sure that the entire company of sycophants which he surrounds himself with would agree, that Lucas is a fantastic director and screenwriter. WRONG! He is a decent, and no more, decent producer and visionary as to visual effects and the infrastructure of film making, but nothing more. His work to advance sound and picture quality with his THX standard is worthy, as was his now seen as rather hypocritical stance against colouration in 1980’s, only for him to butcher his own films and reissue them in 3D later! (This included)

I feel that he thought that he could give his loyal audience a new and fresh take on his saga, whilst tying it in to the established back story. That’s before the more cynical me would suggest that he also wanted to secure his toy and merchandising industry for decades to come, and sort out any plot complications by re-editing his treasured originals until they fit the new mould, something which first reared its ugly head in 2004 with his second Special Edition versions for the DVD’s.

But here we are in 1999, and the opening titles appear on the screen. Words such as“Trade Federation” and “Taxation” began to appear. Gone was the standard opening of an Imperial Star Destroyer and welcome some tiny rubbish looking spaceship, as it approached a fleet of little Death Stars.

Soon we meet Qui Gon Jin (Liam Neeson) and Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) and the childish adventure begins. My first thought as a 20 year old was,‘Was Star Wars really this childish? The answer: No. It was a family adventure and it was not as high brow as many fans would like to believe but it was not anything like this either.

Jar Jar Binks was a prime example of where this film went wrong as per the tone, as was the entire Gungan plot; Pointless. Eventually we finally end up on more familiar ground, Tatooine and we meet an 8-year-old Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). The future Darth Vader was far from the villain which we all wanted but it could have worked if executed better, but instead this was cynical move to add something more relatable to Lucas’ key demographic, the toy buying children.

Is this what we wanted. No. But does Lucas care? No. What he seems to think is that we should swallow whatever pills he gives us and we will, quite frankly, but he is hardly doing himself any favours in then process. Star Wars has become his own personal toy to tinker with at his leisure and this was phase two for him, after his Special Editions in 1997.

The main problem is here is the back story. As I said earlier, he did not seem content to give us the most plausible and thematically relevant version of events before A New Hope, instead in an attempt to give us something new, he contrived a story out of elements dismissed on never even dreamed of by others.

And there’s a good reason for that, because it’s crap! It seemed that Lucas was intent on having Anakin turn to dark side in Episode III, which is fine, so he needed to build a story to work towards that. But he never really archives this and starting here, 30 years earlier when nothing will have a direct influence on Anakin’s motivations to turn, seems to be waste of time.

And then there’s the lack any real villain. Granted we have the double act of Darth Sidious (Get it?) and Darth Maul (Ray Park), who is without a doubt the best character in this and they kill him off! For a franchise which delivered one of cinemas greatest villains in the form of Darth Vader to ignore this most basic need, was ludicrous. Maul was a wasted character and would have made the subsequent prequels better with his inclusion, I have no doubt about that considering what we were given. Sorry Christopher

To me, this film should have started the franchise with something closer to what Episode II’s was in terms of plot, if it were, as with The Empire Strikes Back, making the second part the pivotal one, with the introduction of Darth Vader in the second film, leaving an entire third film to Darth doing what was quoted in A New Hope, “Hunting down and destroying the Jedi”.

This just seems a long, long prologue and extended filler. But as filler goes, there’s no arguing with some of the sequences here, particularly the Pod Race, based on Ben~Hur’s Chariot Race, even down to the hero and villain’s flag colours and the march of charioteers homage. And then there’s the lightsaber battle at the end, which in spite of many complaints about it being unfair, two on one and all that, I don’t care, it was cool!

Overall, it would appear that Lucas still has a flare for the visuals, but lacks any real story telling ability and anyone to edit his rubbish, but that’s not to say that if you let it wash over you and watch it with the children, it can’t be a reasonably enjoyable two hours especially, the Pod Race and The Final Duel.

But in an attempt to be clever and outsmart his own fans, he lost sight of his own intriguing back story which he penned over 20 year earlier, one in which Darth Vader was a pilot, not a smart-arse kid who raced jet engines around sand dunes and The Clone Wars sounded pretty cool.

And the two plotting styles of trade disputes and Jar Jar Binks style comedy just did not work well together. But I think it’s fair to sum up this film with one question:

To start with, for this example, there never was an original trilogy. It’s 1999: A film called Star Wars: The Phantom Menace comes out as a tent-pole summer release. The director was previously responsible for flop Howard The Duck and this film has a plot which is as all over the place as this. Would there have been a sequel?

If the answer is no, then you can surely agree that this is not the film to start one of cinema’s greatest and most successful franchises and there would never have been episodes IV or V, let alone VI. In real terms, this must be one of the most success films to be derided by its own fans in movie history. What kind of accolade is that?

 

EPISODE II

star_wars_episode_two_attack_of_the_clones_ver2_xlg2002 (Digital Theatrical Version) (DVD & VHS)

2002/2011 (Blu-ray Enhanced)

DIRECTOR: George Lucas

May Contain Spoilers!

Three years on from the omen of foreboding which was The Phantom Menace, I doubt that I was on my own when I was hanging the fate of the entire Star Wars franchise on this film redeeming itself, and not replicating the first major mistake of the saga. The big question is, did it work?

No. But it could have been a lot worse! Lucas seems to have taken his true premise and motives from the first film, by creating an even bigger universe of exotic characters, but selling any form of narrative cohesion or integrity down the river.

The effects became more pronounced and there was a change in the aesthetic from the Episode I, which for all it’s faults, was grounded and a more reasonable blend of visual effects and real life than this. A major misstep in a film by shot with green screen, and it shows.

It would take James Cameron the rest of decade to perfect this with Avatar, and you would think that if Lucas with all his wealth and power behind him, could either had waited or worked within the limitations of what was available at the time, because trust me, the technology that he was using, just simply wasn’t up to it. The matt paintings from his original trilogy were leagues better than most of the CGI effects here, but that’s not to say that they were all bad.

The sound design worked very well and effects such as the chrome starships from Naboo likewise, but I do feel that Lucas was again “inspired” by other sources for his production design, such as Courasent for example, which was basically is right out of Blade Runner.

But enough about the VFX, sound design and plagiarised production design, what about the narrative? What about it; The story is, without being distracted by the contrivances meant to convince us that this is a real grown up drama, that 10 years after The Phantom Menace, Anakin has grown up and fallen in love with Padmé, now a senator for Naboo.

Obi Wan Kenobi had continued his training, though little interest is show in developing this plotline, it’s just stated, and the pair of Jedi Knights are assigned, like two New York cops, to investigate an assassination attempt on Padmé.

Is this what you think of when you think Jedi Knights? I didn’t think so. So they separate, with Obi Wan winding up at the Planet Kemino, a planet of cloners (Hey up! Wink!) where he is introduced to the Stormtrooper army Mk1 and the clone army’s father, Jango Fett along with his son, a direct clone of him, Boba.

It’s this wish-fulfilment Fan-boy plot which pits Jango, who is basically Boba Fett for all intents and purposes, and Obi Wan against each other. They engage in a physical battle on a landing platform, in which Jango escapes only for them to fight again, this time in the rings of a planet.

This and many sequences in this film hark back to better days in the Star Wars franchise, in this case, the asteroid chase from The Empire Strikes Back, but it all plays out quite well. Meanwhile, Anakin and Padmé are falling madly in love in the corniest way possible and as part of  some of the worst scriptwriting that I have ever seen.

The acting isn’t much better either, something which we should be surprised about from the Oscar winning Natalie Portman, but that’s the same story with everyone in these prequels. There’ no flair, no Harrison Fords, just good actors being green screened to death!

Then, as their forbidden love is on the brink of being explored, Anakin has a dream, a recurring plot device to move characters around in the prequels and mush return home to find his mother. She is killed by the Sandpeople, so Anakin “Kills them all” but whilst teetering, still fails to turn to the darkside, seemingly brushing this incident to the back of his mind as they set off to rescue Obi Wan, who has been captured by the Trade Federation and Count Dooku. Yes, they’re back.

So, after a computer game styled sequence in a Droid factory, everyone is captured and they must battle a series of monsters in an arena… blar, blar.

So, it’s come to this we’re thinking, when suddenly “begins, The Clone Wars do”. The action kicks off, Anakin looses his arm, bad guy, this time in the form of Christopher Lee’s, Count Dooku, gets away for the next film and finally, the rubbish is out-of-the-way, and the story which we actually want to see is almost upon us.

Just three years later, and 22 years after Star Wars: Return Of The Jedi, we would finally see the creation of Darth Vader in a film, whilst far from what we would have hoped, was certainly more in tune with fans that these two.

On a plus note, the nod to fans that Jar Jar was now relegated to a supporting role was much appreciated, though I’m sure that many wanted him dead. But how well would a death scene have gone with Jar Jar anyway, it was probably best to simply cut their losses, tough it was nice to see his stupidity set up Emperor Palpatine in office, ready to take over the galaxy, thanks again, Jar Jar!

Overall, like the first film, not a bad watch as a glossy entertaining film, but not on par with the originals, lacking any real weight, with a screenplay which would not have passed any rigorous form of editing, and no theatrical of creative flair what so ever; Confirming that Lucas is the Ed Wood of our generation, only through one great film,Star Wars, and one of his most well judged decisions not to direct of write the screenplay for the sequel, and the best film of the franchise, The Empire Strikes Back, has been managed to become something that the famed “World’s Worse Director” (Ed Wood) couldn’t and make a ton of money in the process!

But I’m back with the same question. Would a film of this quality, after the last one, have spawned another sequel? If it was up to these two films, then we would never have seen Anakin become anything more that a piece of the scenery, let alone the iconic Darth Vader.

 

EPISODE III

Star_wars_episode_three_poster22005 (DVD Release)

2005/2011 (Enhanced Blu-ray Edition)

CANDLES 7

DIRECTOR: George Lucas

After 22 years of waiting, since 1983’s“Return Of The Jedi”, we were sat in the auditorium ready to witness the epic moment when Obi Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker would finally turn on one and other and Darth Vader’s conception would be complete.

As the ‘Clone War’ came to a close, the Jedi had been all but wiped of the face of a galaxy far, far away and Chancellor Palpatine had ascended to become the emperor of the newly formed ‘Galactic Empire’, that moment had finally arrived. Was it worth the wait?

Well, since the bar had be not so much lowered, but obliterated by the the first two prequels, measured with those in mind, then yes, absolutely! In fact, it does stand up well, and on the initial viewing, it was outstanding. A visual feast or choreography, visual style and epic art direction, everything you would expect from the man who had changed cinema forever, 28 years earlier.

The only issue is that even though the fans wanted nothing more that to see this duel, the rest of the prequel franchise was merely filler, and a series of plots designed to delay the inevitable battle and to give the audience anything but what they had expected. But after a ridiculous 22 year wait, there was almost no good ideas left that hadn’t been explored in two decades of fan fiction,  leaving all the bad ones to be included in Lucus’ second, no rather third rate scripts!

We had been told that he was waiting for the technology to make these films, but what was he waiting for exactly? The technology to animate the, perhaps? The visual effects in these films, though sparkling and perfect in its details, are hollow and do not match the standards of the original films, and  begs the question as to why not?

Four years since the release of “Revenge Of The Sith”, James Cameron would finally release a film which he had being developing the technology for, for over 10 years,(“Avatar”) and the result: Groundbreaking cinema, in both the 3D and Mo-cap tech, raising the bar, as “Star Wars” had done three decades earlier.

But this film had restored something which the franchise had all but destroyed with episodes one and two. This finally felt something like the original films and was a joy to watch, even though it still falls short of the mark. The acting is poor in all the prequels, which account to Lucas’ directorial style, favouring green screen and CGI over acting. But John William’s score is first rate, as it has been throughout the entire saga, but this was both classic and moving, a score truly in touch with the audiences love and feeling towards the films, sadly devoid in most other aspects of the production.

That’s not to say that technically this was well produced, because on paper, in the computers, and certainly in sound editing suites, it was perfect, with  levels of audio visual detail to die for and the scope was awesome. But in the end, it is a hollow shell of what it should have been. “Episode III” though, is the most fulfilling of the three, but all of them rely of the decades of loyalty given to them, because without it, these would probably be laughed out of the auditoriums.

But having said all that, I enjoy this film, as a part of the saga, and still look forward to seeing it, and some of the sequences in this film , though far from perfectly realised, are fun and enjoyable. This is leagues below “Star Wars” and the superior “The Empire Strikes Back”, but still worth a watch.


DÜNYAYI KURTARAN ADAM (aka THE MAN WHO SAVES THE WORLD) (aka “TURKISH STAR WARS”)

December 9, 2015

affiche1982

CANDLES 1

DIRECTOR: Çetin Inanç

“STINKER”

Okay…

Made in Turkey in 1982, this cult classic is just that, ‘cult’ to the extreme.

With music from Indiana Jones and tons of visual effects footage litterally lifted from Star Wars (1977), let alone Meteor (1979), this is the one of the most bizarre films that I have ever seen. But I suspect in making that claim, that I am giving away my ignorance of an entire sub-genre of movies which are truly so bad, that they may well be good!

Maybe, but this clearly is not for me. Using clips from an original anamorphic, presumably 35mm print of Star Wars as the basis for the film’s effects, this is actually a bit of gem for Star Wars fans in the sense that this is at lease one of the ways to watch original footage from presumably the first cut of the film, before the myriad of changes was to take place.

But beside the film’s actual footage, with ludicrous costumes, poor derivative plotting, the editing and direction is beyond laughable. There is simply no reason for this film to be this bad and it is just bad! Many will see it as quirky and fun, but maybe I am just being miserable but I see a film which is painfully bad, cheap and silly, though I will hold back from saying nasty, because when all is said and done, it is charming in a warm and cuddly kind of way.

Certainly, as one of the many Star Wars rip-offs of the early 1980’s, this is a curiosity and certainly one worth checking out, at least for a few minutes. You may well get a laugh out of it.


STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER

December 7, 2015

star_trek_v_ver21989

sPG

CANDLES 4

DIRECTOR: William Shatner

May contain spoilers!

Without a doubt, the weakest of the Star Trek movies, as well as the only one to be directed by the star himself, William Shatner (Captain Kirk). Unlike the previous two films, III & IV, which were both directed by his co-star the late Leonard Nimoy (Spock), this movie lacks the understanding of the characters, with Shatner opting for a vacuous action set up and a comedic tone, most of which falls flat.

And also unlike its predecessors, the effects work was NOT carried out by ILM, resulting in some of the poorest effects of the entire franchise, supporting a story which besides the hunt for God and the sudden appearance Spock’s half brother, Sybok, a plot point which Gene Rodenberry himself was soon to dismiss as NOT CANON, the action sequences and set up are just so poorly executed, it is beyond laughable.

Shatner does not seem to to care less about continuity, the show’s imternal logic surrounding the technology, the ship or even the universe and seems to think that Star Trek fans  are imbeciles and will swallow any old nonsense!

But having said all that, Star Trek is a long running movie franchise, 36 years old so far, with the series about to celebrate its 50th Anniversary next September and as such is entitled to a bad episode as any series is. James Bond is hardly a canon of masterpieces, nor is Star Wars. But if this was simply a science fiction movie, it would have been forgotten along time ago.

Thanks to the loyalty of the fans and the longevity of the franchise as a whole, Star Trek V, warts and all will be played for years to come and maybe we will become more forgiving of it in time. I already feel a little better towards it… Time is a healer.


ALICE IN WONDERLAND (1903)

December 4, 2015

bfi_logo_transp1903

CANDLES 5

DIRECTOR: Percy Stow & Cecil Hepworth

FIRST EVER FILM VERSION OF ALICE IN WONDERLAND

download

Painstakingly restored by the BFI (British Film Institute) from a severely damaged print, this is still in poor condition, but for the those interested in taking a look at a small piece of movie history, this is still quite watchable.

But there is little to recommend here besides the curiosity value. Alice is played by a rather unattractive, sorry to sound so shallow but it was distracting, young woman (May Clark), and the scenes are presented in a very unimaginatively staged manner.

Granted, this is 1903 and depending on which date you recognise as the birth of cinema, this is still only the first decade of film making and it had a long way to go. Georges Méliès had only just released his highly innovative classic, La Voyage Dans La Lune (1902) and many of his now simple camera and editing techniques and early special effects had yet to make it into the medium on the whole, but this film’s effects are poorly conceived, let alone executed in my opinion, though not one shared by the BFI apparently. This must be an acquired taste…

imagesThe most interesting and informative parts are in fact the inter-titles, which serve to explain the story so much more effectively than the live action footage itself. Granted, some of the effects are quite good, such as the superimposed Cheshire Cat in one scene, but the scene itself was pointless.

Thanks to the BFI for their hard work in preserving these curios, but all in all, besides its title and inspiration, this is an uninspired and cynical effort, failing to tell or show the story in anyway, leaving it to the the inter-titles to do the work.

Maybe I am being a bit harsh; maybe I should be more forgiving of this early work and appreciate the technical aspects of what they were trying to do and I am, but that can be said for any film or any age but my interest here is more about how entertaining this piece of entertainment is. The answer: Not very.


BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE TRAILER #3

December 3, 2015

batman_v_superman_dawn_of_justice_ver3_xlgAs the latest trailer for Zack Snyder’s second foray into the new DC Universe hits the internet yesterday, I can not help but feel a little disappointment. This is the first real example of why this summer blockbuster has been moved to the March release slot, one reserved for films that may of may not yield the best results.

With less pressure, this movie may well have enough room to breath and it failures could be managed and dismissed more easily than if it was to be released in the height of blockbuster season, June, July or August.

My first real complaint here is that it appears that this trailer is giving away the farm, revealing way to much, including a shrill Lex Luthor as well as a rather clunky looking monster villain and taking us, through the course of the trailer from Kent Vs. Wayne, Batman Vs. Superman to Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman Vs. something else.

Watch the trailer below:

I’m sure that there is plenty more to look forward too and these revelations are hardly a surprise but it could have been kept back for the final film. So, with just four months to go, let us just hope that there is more to this movie than the trailer is suggesting because if not, this could be a huge disappointment.


’71

December 2, 2015

seventy_one2014

s15

CANDLES 10

DIRECTOR: Yann Demange

May contain spoilers!

Films affect people in different ways. Horror films generally leave me cold, hence why I am not an huge fan of the genre as a whole. I seem to be able to separate myself from the events on the screen and therefore I have a difficult time being drawn into the narrative or action, leaving me impervious to the chills of horror which unfolds before me.

But this film was head for me to watch and left me feeling uneasy throughout.

’71, has a bleak urban war zone feel and being from the U.K. and growing up around the ‘Irish Troubles’, though not in Ireland itself, this film draws on more tangible fears. This film is set just 44 years ago, with streets not too dissimilar from those which I grew up in or around in northern England, which is actually where this was filmed, though luckily for me, England was suffering through such hard times, with the troubles general reserved for Northern Ireland.

But, this film demonstrates so effectively the truth behind what has gone on and what in many ways, still be happening in the Ireland, even after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement supposedly put and end to the conflict. But you can not just draw a line under such a personal sectarian war, one which has effected so many people who are still alive and remember.

But 1971 was a time where the conflict was building to its peak, where urban streets were at war with each other as well as the British Army, an image which seems so alien now yet was on our TV screens almost every night throughout the 70’s, 80’s & 1990’s. Let alone the bombing campaigns both in Ireland and the British mainland.

But whilst this film is based on the events of the time, it is not a true story as such, as we follow Jack O’Connell’s Private Hook as he is separated from his company during a street skirmish. We follow him on a tour of troubled Belfast throughout the night as he is pursued by the IRA and the undercover wing of his own army who play both sides off against each other.

We meet hard line IRA, Unionists and sympathetic Loyalists and Hook must struggle to survive the night amidst the ever growing chaos of the unfolding and ceaseless conflict.

’71 is the most disturbing film that I seen in a long time, so close to the bone, engrossing and familiar that it plays out as much as a gangster thriller as it does an urban war film. And in many ways, that what the conflict was. It was personal, domestic and beyond the simplistic overriding issues of who ran Northern Ireland.

All the factions had an agenda and the likes of Private Hook were simple pawns within them. The film also makes little to effort to wrap everything up neatly, understanding that this conflict was far from neat and tidy and that the it was destined to continue for decades to come.

Tense, bleak and in many ways, horrific, ’71 is the best interpretation that I have seen on the horrors of the this conflict, for the most part being true to the nature of war, hate and futility of the whole thing, not just in Northern Ireland but war in general.

The performances where first rate almost across the board and the tone of the film, along with its direction are equally as stunning. A tough watch but one which will not leave you.


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