Monday, 23 December 2013

My Top Ten Worst Christmas Films

After the runaway success of last year's Top 11 Essential Christmas Films list there was an outcry across the internet for a follow-up. How on Earth could I top perfection? Well, it became quite clear when I slowly realised that most Christmas films are actually utter shit. Therefore I felt that it my duty to inform the world which ones are the worst of the bunch. Christmas is a busy period and we don't have time to waste sitting in front of worthless tales. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (2013)

Alan Partridge is, without a doubt, the most impressive character that Steve Coogan has ever played. I have tried my best to enjoy his other offerings but nothing compares to the perfectly executed radio DJ/TV presenter. Partridge was first introduced to the world thanks to his outings on the short-lived BBC Radio 4 comedy On the Hour in the early 90s. Since those days he has appeared in a wide variety of platforms and has gone through a few professional changes. With his inherent ability to say the wrong thing and commit career suicide whenever it looks like things might be going his way, Alan has always offered up an array of whimsical and cringe-inducing comedy. However, there will obviously be a possible danger when a beloved sitcom makes its way to the big screen. Would the delicate details that flourished in the half hour episodes get lost in translation? Would the film makers make the mistake of turning everything up to 11 to stick to Hollywood standards? Would Alpha Papa prove to be a worthy addition to his accomplished career? Well, a mere four months after it was released, I was all set to find out.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The Day of the Doctor (2013)

To quote, River Song "Spoilers".

I’ve made no real secret of the fact that I’m not the biggest fan of Steven Moffat’s time as head writer on Dr Who. I think the quality of the writing has decreased and the focus has become spectacle and viewing figures instead of good characters and well-executed narratives. Plus, his last 3 seasons have included far more complete duds than the Russell T era was ever guilty of and, in my opinion, the vast majority of great episodes come from the first 4.5 series of the rebooted show. However, I was just as excited as the vast majority of the world about last night’s 50th anniversary special and sat in front of my TV praying Moffat would pull it off.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

It has been two years since the God of Thunder first exploded onto our cinema screens and Chris Hemsworth’s third outing as the Asgardian prince with an incredibly heavy hammer. Personally, I really enjoyed Thor and was looking forward to seeing what the sequel had to offer. As I’ve already mentioned Thor is probably my favourite superhero and I think he has a lot of potential for film adaptations. Especially because the literature nerd in me loves the fact that I am essentially watching a Shakespeare play about Norse gods with a comic book twist. Plus, what kind of card-carrying Hiddlestoner would I be if I didn’t relish the thought of watching the most beautiful and talented actor around get to grips with his evil side?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Cloud Atlas (2012)

Writing this blog only makes me realise just how little I’ve read of contemporary writers and I end up feeling like the biggest failure of a Literature graduate. Whilst I’m sat here with an insane amount of knowledge about novels of sensibility, I can’t even remember the last Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel I read. Thanks to some quick Wikipedia-ing I’ve discovered that it was the 2007 shortlisted On Chesil Beach (which is only because I adore Ian McEwan). I own a lot of the novels but just haven’t got round to reading them yet (not even The Sense of An Ending which is fucking tiny). I’m so ashamed. Given this fact, it will come as no shock to you that I have yet to read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. However, I have enough of an awareness of the basic details surrounding its structure and content to understand why it was referred to as one the many, so-called, “unfilmable” novels. So it was always going to be a massive undertaking for Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski’s to create something worthy of the Richard and Judy Award winning novel.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Man of Steel (2013)

I work with a guy who is a fairly huge fan of Superman so I have had to contend with his excitement concerning Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel since its production was announced. With the release of every new trailer I was met with a gushing report of how it was set to be the best film ever made and, in the past few weeks, have been continually asked when the inevitable Blu-Ray release is. This is all very well and good but I found it difficult to match his excitement. As a child I loved the Christopher Reeve films and was a fan of the ‘I’m sure it was cool in the 90s’ Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. However, as a superhero, I never really responded to Kal-El in the same way I did with other forces of good. The reason for this is simple: his parents. Clark, as an alien who receives strength from the Sun, has an immense advantage over other heroes. He isn’t making the same kind of sacrifice as people like Batman, Iron Man or Spider-Man. He also never seemed as easy to engage with as a character. He’s a bit too cheesy (yes I realise talking about cheesiness in terms of any superhero is somewhat ridiculous) in an All-American hero kind of way. It’s grating and, when he’s riding around on his insanely high horse, it’s difficult to see him let alone connect with him as a character. If I had to pick an almost indestructible, God-like alien for a friend it’d be Thor no question. He seems fun in a Nordic way, has a nifty hammer and is all beardy. Plus, his human form is a doctor whilst Clark Kent runs around playing a famous journalist. It’s all a bit too narcissistic for me. So by the time I finally got round to watching this supposed masterpiece I had my expectations set to ‘not stunned’.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Flight (2013)

In my opinion, Flight had a pretty terrible marketing campaign that presented it as something much worse than it actually is. The first time I saw the trailer I was completely put off. It looked silly and badly written and, let’s be honest, any trailer that places John Goodman in a prominent role is realistically likely to be disappointing.  The best way I could describe the idea I had about this Robert Zemeckis film was as something written by the two lazy film writers from That Mitchell and Webb Look. (“We wanted to write a film about a pilot that survives a crash but we don’t know anything about aeroplanes. We were super busy so we just thought sod it.”) Then it went and got great feedback, Oscar nominations and glowing recommendations from friends. It seemed only fair to ignore my first impression and give it a go. Denzel Washington deserves that much at least.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

R.I.P.D (2013)

It’s really difficult to like Ryan Reynolds these days. I’m sure that there’s a good actor in there somewhere but he just keeps agreeing to star in shitty films. Just take a look at some of his past credentials (The Green Lantern, The Change-Up, The Proposal, Just Friends, The Amityville Horror remake) and it’s a sorry list of bland blockbusters and insipid romantic-comedies. Certainly, it’s a huge change from his early days when his presence would be a welcome addition to any cast-list. These days it’s starting to look as though his two major talents seem to be his rock-hard abs and his ability to get blonde women to marry him. Surely there’s got to be something fantastic hidden away and he’s just waiting for the right film to come along? Unfortunately, that film was never going to be R.I.P.D. Yes, number 3 in this week’s surprise buddy-cop season. Upon release in the US it was universally panned by critics and even given the title of worst film of the year... even with a full 4 months worth of terrible films still to come. So of course I had to check this out for myself. It surely can’t be that bad... can it?

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Other Guys (2010)

These days I find myself drawn to Mark Wahlberg  films. I’m not entirely sure when it happened but Marky Mark became one of the more reliable actors around. So much so that I find myself desperate to watch Pain and Gain and 2 Guns every time I see the trailers. I may prefer the rap career of Hollywood favourite Will Smith but there can be no denying that Marky’s talent lies outside of hip-hop. He’s a talented actor and, most surprisingly, an incredibly funny performer. His role in Ted was a revelation so I started my mission to work my way through his filmography. If I’m not careful he’ll become one of my favourite actors and once that happens I will certainly have to start re-evaluating my life.

The Heat (2013)

It was the Bridesmaids combo of Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig that really put the former on Hollywood's radar. She is slowly making a name for herself as a reliably funny performer despite not always receiving the type of material she deserves (see IdentityThief). Here the two reunite for the film that was, for a long time, known as 'The Untitled Female Buddy Cop Comedy'. In Snakes on a Plane style part of me wishes they had kept this at the title but alas, The Heat is what we were left with. As with his last film, Feig was on a mission to make a female-centric comedy that both men and women would enjoy. To prove that women are just as funny and downright silly as men. It worked with his first film, which was incredibly popular with both critics and audiences alike. Can he and McCarthy work their female-centric magic in the world of cops and robbers? 

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Despicable Me was the animated success story of 2010 which saw audiences embrace the story of super-villain Gru and his accidental move into family-life. It was a refreshing and original concept that quickly became a firm favourite with moviegoers. This was thanks in no small part to his little, yellow minions who provided the young audience with plenty of incredibly silly moments. As we all know, that film ended with Gru giving up on his plan to prove just how evil he is (by trying to steal the moon no less) and dedicate himself to his new daughters. So where did that leave us in terms of a sequel?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Wolverine (2013)

The Wolverine marks Hugh Jackman's fourth (fifth if you insist on counting the shameless cameo in First Class) outing as the mutton-chopped mutant and, after the disappointing Origins four years ago, it had a lot to prove. For those who have read my brief history of X-Men movies will know, I didn't hate Origins as much as the average person appeared to. So yes, the plot was weak and confused about what it was trying to do. Yes, there were a lot of characters added and destroyed without any attempt to give them any depth. However, despite the huge list of faults, I sort of enjoyed it. Especially after the travesty that was Brett Ratner's The Last Stand. Yes, it may have something to do with my unquenching love of Remy LeBeau but there were some good moments. If nothing else, I certainly think there was enough to Origins to suggest that a Wolverine centric film was possible. Despite the many differing opinions that came out after its release. So there was really just one major question that director James Mangold and co needed to address: would that film be The Wolverine?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Lone Ranger (2013)

Just a few months ago, Quentin Tarantino was showing us exactly how you can update the old Western for a modern audience. However, it would show questionable parenting skills if you happily took your 10 year old with you to enjoy the bloody revenge saga. So this can only mean there is a gap in the market for a good, old fashioned family friendly narrative set in the Wild West, right? Well maybe but even if audiences were crying out for a new cowboy hero it certainly can't have been the Lone Ranger. The original radio series started in 1933 and the television show was popular in the 50s. Not exactly the typical Disney demographic. Nobody has been patiently waiting for this character to get a new outing and, quite frankly, it was always going to be difficult to translate it for a modern world. This isn't like getting the same freedom you would making a film out of a pirate theme park ride. With something like the Lone Ranger you are forced to stick to certain traditions... even the questionably racist ones. You have to ask who exactly were Disney creating this film for.

Although the answer to that is painfully obvious: Johnny Depp. After director Gore Verbinski put the idea into his head that he could play the Lone Ranger's Native American sidekick there was no stopping him. We sat on the sidelines of a production full of drama with its apparently limitless budget, expanding schedule and almost free reign for one of Hollywood's most bankable stars. It's a horrible example of everything that's wrong with the industry: throwing money, CGI and big names together with the aim to make nothing more than a bucket load of cash. I'll admit there was always a part of me that hoped this film would fail as it might start a chain of events to change all that. It is with only a slight amount of joy that it seems my wish was granted. The Lone Ranger was torn apart by critics and opened to disappointing numbers in America. So have audiences simply fallen out of love with Johnny Depp or was it that the Lone Ranger, unlike other recent rebooted franchises, simply has no place in the heart of a modern audience?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Cuckoo's Cover-Up: or How J K Rowling fooled the literary world into enjoying her new book

This weekend saw massive books news. Literally nobody was crying out for me to offer my opinion on the matter but that's not stopped me so far. As we all know by now, on Saturday it was revealed that a book with positive reviews but mediocre sales was actually written by one of Britain's most bankable authors: JK Rowling. As cover-ups go it's not exactly the most exciting but the revelation that Robert Galbraith is actually just JK's second pseudonym has taken the literary world by storm. The BBC New website has helpfully quoted the following from a Waterstone's spokesman which pretty much sums up the general feeling: “this is the best act of literary deception since Stephen King was outed as Richard Bachman back in the 1980s”. JK insists that she wishes that the truth could have come out a little later but her publisher must be pretty happy that people found out just as sales weren't going so great. What a happy, happy coincidence.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Monsters University (2013)

With every new Pixar releases we find an influx of reviewers and random people on the internet (*ahem*) getting angry about the recent abundance of sequels and the company's supposed focus on merchandise. I have, in the past (as you can see in this very blog), argued that the once outstanding animators are running out of fresh ideas but I must get angry at the suggestion that this prequel to the super popular Monsters Inc. was created solely because of the merchandise potential. Just take a handful of the many reviews out there and you'll no doubt get bored of the phrase 'golden age of Pixar' and the lamentation that we are witnessing yet another nail in the studio’s coffin. Saying that Pixar have lost their way since Disney got involved is as much of a reviewing cliché as saying that every Woody Allen film of the last 20 years isn't Annie Hall or Manhattan. Quite frankly guys, I'm getting a bit bored of it. Monsters University isn't a terrible film and certainly doesn't bring shame on it's predecessor. Also, in my opinion this film had way more going for it than last year's Oscar winning Brave (but you can read about that for yourself when you're done here).

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Behind the Candelabra (2013)

Steven Soderbergh is in an odd position when it comes to his supposedly last film ever. After American film studios chose not to fund a no-holds-barred look at Liberace's private life just in case it came across as a bit too gay, it became necessary for HBO to step in to back the adaptation of Scott Thorson's account of his five year relationship with the superstar pianist. Therefore, we are in the odd position of this potentially being Soderbergh's last film outside the US only. It also means that neither its director nor its stars will have any chance to receive Oscar nominations for their work here.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

I set out a promise to you, dear readers, before I continue: I promise I will try as hard as I can to make sure this doesn't just descend into my ramblings concerning the attractiveness of Benedict Cumberbatch. It'll be hard. He is one of the most beautiful men I've ever seen and his voice should come with some sort of parental guidance. Seriously this film should have been rated a 15 just because of how erotic all of his lines sound. Not since the days of Jack Bauer has someone sounded quite so sexy whilst threatening to kill a bunch of people. But here I am falling into the same old trap.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Pitch Perfect (2012)

I'm beginning to suspect that this blog is mostly going to turn into a list of the famous people I become obsessed with throughout my life. A pathetic and hyperbolic record of the varying degrees of love I have for different actors and actresses. Unfortunately, this post isn't going to be my first step towards turning over a leaf as I am about to open with the following statement: I love Rebel Wilson. I know. I know. Who doesn't love Rebel Wilson? She's incredibly funny and is consistently guilty of stealing every scene she's in. Like her fellow Bridesmaids star Melissa McCarthy, Wilson has often been cast in the type of roles that would solely rely on her size to gain cheap laughs but she has continued to show signs that there is a great deal more to get from her. It is down to Wilson alone that I had any desire to see this loud and shiny assault on my senses.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Dr Who and the blog post of doom.

You can tell that I'm supposed to be something important because I'm writing a new post. One thing you can say about Murdocal is that the height of her motivation comes when she has a big deadline approaching. Anyway, here I am and I'm not going to be able to achieve my goal until I get this out of my system. Tonight is the BBC1 premiere of the second half of Season 7 of Dr Who. This starts the journey to the end of Steven Moffat's third series as head writer of the popular science-fiction show and, if recent reports are anything to go by, perhaps the journey to the end of his reign. I would personally relish this decision as I'm one of the ever-growing group of people who are becoming tired of Moffat living out his boyhood fantasy and creating a show his younger self would love. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Top 5 Female Role Models in A Song of Ice and Fire

(Beware of any possible book related spoilers guys.)

My life if pretty full of the people of Westeros right now. I've just rewatched season 2 of the hit HBO show, I'm once again making my way through George RR Martin's Feast of Crows and, as we should all be aware, the new series of Game of Thrones starts in a matter of days. As usual in these situations I have become so deeply immersed in this fake word that it's the only thing on my mind and I felt I had to address it here. One of the things I enjoy most about Martin's series is the great selection of strong female characters. Yes, Martin may not be the writer that Tolkien was but he's much more aware of the general awesomeness of women. The women in LOTR are generally pretty overlooked. I mean there's Galadriel the powerful elf but she has that whole temptation thing to contend with. Then we have Eowyn, who is an undeniable badass warrior but, I for one, can't forget the flirting with another woman's man situation. Yes Arwen had a bigger part in the film but in the books her main task it to sit in the corner looking pretty and elfy. It's all a big yawn in terms of 'girl power'. This is where Martin takes a step ahead of the granddaddy of fantasy.

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Paperboy (2012)

The story of The Paperboy's world premiere is now infamous within the world of film. Lee Daniels' adaptation of the novel by Pete Dexter opened at the 65th Cannes Film Festival in May 2012 to boos and utter contempt from critics. For some reason the people who had loved Michael Haneke's beautiful and heartbreaking Amour didn't feel quite as strongly about a film that sees Nicole Kidman pissing on Zac Efron's face. They dismissed Daniels' film as mere trash that sits mostly in the camp, er, camp. I can sort of understand where they were all coming from. After my first viewing of The Paperboy I couldn't quite believe what I'd just seen. Although, I've thought about it a lot since and I think I'm coming round to this outlandish and darkly comic film noir.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

There have been a great number of attempts to make money from L. Frank Baum's series of novels set in the magical world of Oz. Dating back to well before the insanely popular 1939 film starring Judy Garland. Although none of the films released before or after Victor Fleming's family favourite have ever captured our imagination in quite the same way. The Wizard of Oz is one of those sacred classic films that has a firm place in many people's hearts and the idea of trying to top it would bring fear into the heart of most filmmakers. If there's one thing you should never do, it's fuck about with MGM's Oz spectacular. Although, in more recent years audiences have been embracing Gregory Maguire's book Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and its subsequent hit Broadway musical. With narratives looking back at the land of Oz before it was discovered by Dorothy and her little dog too, they gave Disney more than enough excuse to delve into the untold history of another key figure. So it is that we find ourselves here in 2013 pulling back the curtain a little further and shedding more life onto the mysterious wizard himself.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Identity Thief (2013)

Jason Bateman is another one those frustrating actors who will agree to appear in any old piece of shit despite being incredibly good. It's finally getting to the point where the high points don't mean as much and might as well be flukes. Watching him in films like Horrible Bosses (2011), The Change-Up (2011) and The Switch (2010) it is hard to believe it is the same man who excelled in the likes of Juno (2007) and Arrested Development. The major problem with his latest film, Identity Theft is that it appears good on paper thanks to Bateman's presence and that of his co-star Melissa McCarthy. After her scene stealing role in Bridesmaids (2012) McCarthy is pretty hot Hollywood property and any film starring this much comic potential sounds as though it can't fail.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)

Simon Pegg has an annoying habit of making truly terrible films and, because he's Simon Pegg and so fucking likeable, we're all expected to ignore the fact that he's making utter shit. I'm not one of these crazy Spaced fans who thinks the fact that he's making big Hollywood films like Mission Impossible 3 and 4 shows that he's sold out. However, I'm a fan who thinks he has more talent than he's actually using. I thought we'd reached a low with the likes of Big Nothing (2006), Run, Fat Boy, Run (2007) and Burke and Hare (2010) but then along comes A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012).

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Argo (2012)

I’ve never really seen the point of Ben Affleck as an actor. For a considerable amount of time he was nothing more than the friend of the much more talented Matt Damon. Whilst he is not always awful but he was, more often than not, forgettable. However, like Clint Eastwood and George Clooney, Affleck has made a much more noticeable step into the world of directing. Gaining critical acclaim for his previous efforts Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck now tackles Chris Terrio’s script based on a strange but true part of American and Canadian history. For his third time in the director’s chair, Ben Affleck moves away from the familiarity of his much loved Boston to tackle the wider world and bigger issues.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Les Misérables (2013)

I like Les Misérables. I guess it’s the closest you’ll get to a manly musical. It’s all about violence and loyalty and extolls the Revolutionary values of liberté, égalité and fraternité. Anyone who doesn’t leave the theatre after watching without feeling a rousing desire to storm something is someone not worth thinking about. It is safe to say that I was excited about the film version. On paper it sounded fantastic. A great cast of actors (and Amanda Seyfried) all of whom are known to be competent singers (and Russell Crowe). However, it ended up being slightly disappointing.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Django Unchained (2012)

There is no way anyone with a deep knowledge of film can ignore the influences that have prepared the director for his latest work and there are plenty of sneaky in jokes for them to pick up on. The film would comfortably sit within the history of blaxploitation cinema (with links to films like 1975’s Mandigo amongst others) and, no matter what Tarantino tries to tell us with his talk of “Southerns”, there is little to suggest that Django Unchained would be uncomfortable within the world of Spaghetti Westerns. From the opening credits using the old Columbia logo to the blood-red titles and the whip zooms, the whole thing screams Western. There is an obvious homage to the 1966 film Django thanks to the use of the theme song over the opening titles and a brief cameo by the original Django’s Franco Nero. The final credits of the film utilises music from another influence They Call Me Trinity from 1970. The two films have dramatically different tones with Django being a gruesomely violent melodrama whilst Trinity is a more comic affair where the hero prefers to forgo violence for cheekiness. These two pieces of music sum up the slightly bipolar tone of Tarantino’s latest historical epic. We are treated to an outrageously violent, gruesome Western/blaxploitation hybrid alongside a keen sense of comedy and fun. Although, is this kind of duality the correct setting for a film dealing with such a controversial and risqué topic?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

To quote Kate Winslet in the third episode of Ricky Gervais’ popular sitcom Extras, “you’re guaranteed an Oscar if you play a mental.” Bizarrely, in the case of Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, that could very well be correct. For this isn’t your usual romantic-comedy. It’s about crazies so it’s got depth… supposedly.  For this film has been eaten up by critics and the Oscar voters alike as a refreshing and exciting new direction for the now incredibly stale genre. It is certainly the type of film that was bound to get plenty of attention during award season. I think we all have to be thankful that Russell’s follow-up to his Oscar nominated The Fighter wasn’t also set during World War 2 otherwise Cooper would be a certainty for the Academy Award for Best Actor. So it was in the midst of all this hype that audiences flocked to see two of Hollywood’s most bankable stars step into the quirky and thought-provoking world of mentally ill romantic-comedy. But could it live up to it?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (2012)

When talking animation there is one studio that is often overlooked thanks to such superpowers as Pixar and Studio Ghibli. That studio is the vastly talented Aardman Animations. The studio is known for its work using stop-motion clay animation, in particular the series of films featuring the popular man and dog team, Wallace and Gromit. It easy to see why Aardman doesn't quite have the presence of other studios as its number of feature films to date is only 5. They started off on a high with two critically acclaimed stop-motion films Chicken Run in 2000 and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005. It was their third attempt and, incidentally the first film to move into CGI, Flushed Away, that broke their streak. This and the run-of-the-mill Arthur Christmas were perhaps telling Aardman that it was time to go back to their roots. Thankfully, their 2012 feature film The Pirates! In an adventure with Scientists! shows us what this company is really capable of and it sort of feels very much like the kind of film they've wanted to make for years. Now I admit that I'm an unashamedly massive fan of all things animated and I am particularly fond of the more traditional efforts. There is still something so magical about stop-motion animation (so wonderfully displayed in the likes of Wes Anderson's The Fantastic Mr. Fox) and there is no doubt that there will always be a feeling associated with these works that completely computer-generated works will never be able to achieve. The films being produced by this quiet Bristol-based studio in particular have what can only be described as a definitive spirit that comes across from the opening credits onwards.


Sunday, 20 January 2013

Life of Pi (2012)

I have to be upfront with you all, my loyal readership, and say that I haven’t actually read the incredibly popular Booker Prize winning novel by Yann Martel. Life of Pi was one of those novels that everyone initially considered unfilmable until Ang Lee only went and bloody filmed it. Who would have thought it would be possible for an award winning director to produce the beloved story of a teenage boy getting into trouble on a journey from India to Canada and drifting for 227 days with only an adult Bengal tiger for company? Attempting to achieve the impossible is becoming a major theme in Hollywood lately with major adaptations of, to name but a few, On The Road, Midnight’s Children and Cloud Atlas. The road to Life of Pi hasn’t been easy with one big name after another stepping into the spotlight and back out again (namely M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarón and Jean-Pierre Jeunet). Then in strolls Ang Lee to rise to the challenge aided by his dreamy visuals and incredibly life-like computer generated tiger. Lee is not new to the world of literary adaptations with critically acclaimed versions of Sense and Sensibility, The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain as evidence of his suitability. And whilst I can’t comment myself, I’m reliably informed that Lee didn’t move too far away from Martel’s novel, which ought to keep any Pi-hards out there pretty happy.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Hobbit (2012)

(I found it hard to try and maintain an objective view whilst writing this as I openly admit to falling in love with this film (is that possible? Hell if people in Japan can marry video game characters I can love a film) from the opening sequence. Apologies for any gushing praise that may infiltrate this piece… although not really because, as we all know, “love means never having to say you’re sorry”.)

I made a conscious decision to avoid reading any reviews for Peter Jackson’s latest Tolkien adaptation until I had seen it. I finally got the chance to see it today. I left the cinema this afternoon feeling all warm and happy inside and so could finally indulge my passion for criticism. Needless to say, my fuzzy feelings quickly disappeared and I found myself despairing at my fellow man. There’s so much hatred for this film out there that I’m starting to believe a load of film writers were actually shown a fake, shit version starring the cast of Hollyoaks wearing rubber facemasks. To those criticising the decision to make three films out of the book and declaring it “not very Tolkien” I only have one answer: Tolkien was one of the most sedate writers I can think of and it’s the very reason that I love him. It took me several attempts before I actually managed to get through the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy but by the time I did I adored his lush descriptive passages and constant distractions from the plot. It sort of felt like listening to an elderly relative recount a tale from their past and having to make your way through a multitude of tangents before you reach the climax. If you ask me, Tolkien would have been a fan of this three movies thing and, you know what, had he made them he’d probably have dragged it out even longer.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Dark Shadows (2012)

“Hey, have you heard? Tim Burton and Johnny Depp did another film together.”
“Not again.  This bromance is getting out of control. If they like each other so much why don’t they finally just get it on and leave us all in peace.”
“I think he’s already married to that actress who always turns up in his movies.”
“Of course he bloody is. Who can even remember how many films the two of them have made together anymore?!”

Of course, dear reader, we all know that the number of Depp/Burton collaborations to date is, in fact, eight (the number he made starring his wife is a slightly less obsessive 6). The latest being Burton’s big screen version of the cult gothic soap opera of the 60s and 70s, Dark Shadows. I was incredibly excited to see this film (even if it did take me about 7 months to actually get round to it). Not because of the connection with the show (as a child of the 80s/90s I only became aware of it thanks to this film) but because I unashamedly adore Tim Burton. Yes that’s right, dear friends, I am Murdocal and I’m a Burton-holic. I’ve started to discover a growing number of people who are quick to criticise his gothic genius and I simply don’t understand it. I realise that some of his films have missed the mark of late but, like Woody Allen, I remain loyal and naively go into every new Burton film believing it will be his best. So, like a child heading to bed on Christmas Eve, I sat down to watch full of an innocent hope that a distinctively dressed man would deliver the present I’d been dreaming of.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

2012 was, without a doubt, the year of the comic book movie. Back in April Avengers Assemble brought together some of Marvel's biggest names in a fantastic (though not without its flaws) group effort that paves the way for a potentially epic franchise. It was the year that Christopher Nolan fanboys had been waiting for with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the disappointing end to his Dark Knight trilogy. In between these two highly anticipated releases came the reboot of Spider-Man. After three increasingly terrible Toby Maguire fronted films it was down to Marc Webb (who I assume was approached mainly based on the suitability of his name) to try and breathe new life into the well-known origin story of everyone’s favourite web-slinging geek. Considering it had only been five years since Spider-Man 3 brought an end to the Maguire/Sam Raimi relationship, the question on many people's lips was "is this really necessary?" From the initial announcement of the reboot back in 2010 the internet came together to denounce the film with the expected mix of hyperbole, hysteria and CAPS LOCK. It’s safe to say, there was an awful lot at stake here.


 
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