Thursday, 20 August 2009

I'm sure someone is interested by this, though I'm not sure.

I'm quite into my computer games and tend to enjoy taking the mick out of poorly done cut scenes and such as it's quite funny watching people trying to be cool and atmospheric but generally missing the mark, so here is my latest quip.

(You only really need to watch the first 20 seconds)

The first bit (the generally story setup thing) reminded me of Tim Key's poetry style (which is essentailly a joke).

(bit of a random choice for an example, but hopefully you get the idea)

So there we have it, my contribution for the next 6 months, savour it.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Review Round-Up 7

I've come to the conclusion that, once again, I need to rethink how I put together my film reviews here. Some of these films I saw around a month ago, meaning that more than I would like of some of these reviews is made up of what I wrote on Facebook's Flixter application combined with whatever I can now remember of my reaction to the films at the time I saw them. So, these Review Round-Ups will most likely come to an end in the near future if I can work out how better to get my reviews up here without making the entries too brief or too lengthy.

This entry is made up of reviews of films I've seen at the cinema. I'll do another entry soon on the films I've seen recently on DVD.

Ice Age 3: Dawn Of The Dinosaurs
This film felt very aware of the fact that it had two films behind it to develop all of the returning characters, which turns out to be both a good and a bad thing. Good because it means that the foundations are there to start off another adventure with familiar characters without trawling through backstory. Bad because some of the main characters' storylines feel very underdeveloped and almost like afterthoughts as to what to give them to do for this installment. Diego, for example, a pivotal character in the first film, is now placed firmly in a second fiddle position and unfortunately given a storyline that could be written down on the back of a postage stamp. Crash and Eddie suffer a similar fate, although I wasn't so fussed by that. The main storyline itself is the simplest of all the Ice Age films so far, but this is still great fun and enjoyable all the way through. The characters are not tired yet (although I'm not sure if they could all withstand a fourth installment) and the introduction of Buck (voiced by Simon Pegg) is a welcome one who provides real humour throughout. The Scrat skits also get a fresh twist, and are as hilarious as ever.

Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince
Tom Felton stands out in a returning cast that appears to simply be going through the motions, especially during the first half of the film. He brings new depth and believeable turmoil to the character of Draco Malfoy, something that Daniel Radcliffe as the eponymous teenage wizard fails to pull off in this installment. Jim Broadbent is well cast as Horace Slughorn and puts in a strong and charming, if exaggerated and hammy, performance (but what else do you expect from British stalwarts in Potter films?). However, the film overall never grasped my attention enough, with the magical elements underwhelming and the story oversimplified to the point of incomprehensibility at some points (good luck to anyone planning to understand this film without having read the book to fill in the gaps). Ultimately, in no way is this a particularly bad film. There are enjoyable elements scattered throughout, and, from the point of view of someone who has read the books, it is less frustrating to watch than Prisoner Of Azkaban. It's just that, in most ways, it's distinctly average.

The Proposal
Below average, with all the familiar elements of the rom com formula presented in a half-hearted fashion. Having two capable actors in Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds as the leads drags it up a little, as they do have genuine charm, at times even chemistry together, and you feel they are doing the best with the poor material they have. They're never believeable in the roles they've been cast in, especially Bullock as the bunny-boiling bitch (made even more disappointing if you've seen her in 2005's Crash, in which she plays a similar character with real flair). One truly funny scene and another moment involving '80s hip-hop stand out as small and unexpected islands in a sea of writing and direction mediocrity.

Land Of The Lost

Feels decidedly amateurish and relies too much on "teenage boy" humour to carry it (I lost count of the amount of jokes about boobs). Will Ferrell is amusing enough, and has some relatively funny dialogue, but for the most part feels as though he's on auto-pilot, making his character of Rick Marshall feel like a watered-down mish-mash of several previous Ferrell incarnations, making for a mediocre and unsatisfying performance. The other cast members are on the whole unconvincing and feel too one-dimensional to be anything more than just adequate human scenery for Ferrell. The plot is paper thin, at times almost non-existent, and large sections of the film leave the characters simply bumbling around aimlessly without any real focus. If you have nothing better to do then you could do worse, but be prepared to switch your brain, and your crap filter, firmly to "off".

The Time Traveler's Wife
A real mixed bag in many ways. At times the time travel element feels cleverly handled and executed with genuine flair and humour; at others it feels confused, and almost as if the film-makers themselves were unsure of what they were depicting and the rules it is governed by. Eric Bana is excellent throughout, bringing depth and humanity to a role that would be easy to turn into a parody or cliche of the time-traveller archetype. Rachel McAdams is satisfactory as the eponymous spouse of Bana, but rarely shows the range and depth required to make the character feel genuine. Very enjoyable with some truly inspired parts, but at the same time frustrating - many characters feel severely underdeveloped, some to the point of having no purpose in the film whatsoever. Some elements and scenes also feel oversimplified, giving those parts an unsatisfying feel and taking away from the film overall. Considering the film as a whole, Bana is very entertaining and, whilst the plot occasionally lapses into the simplistic and sentimental, the story requires enough brains to make this worthwhile and enjoyable.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

More Trailer Trash

Maybe fifteen months later is too long to do a follow-up entry to a previous post, but to hell with sticking to convention, I'm going to do it anyway. Said previous post was actually inspired by an entry Telf wrote on the varying success of film trailers, and how certain trailers get it wrong. A pet peeve Telf and I share is trailers that don't know when to stop - essentially telling a large part (in the worst cases, all) of the film's story, instead of giving just a taster of what is to come when seeing the film itself. Seeing as I've experienced a couple such trailers recently, I thought I'd share my take on them.

Incidentally, everything below contains potential spoilers (although most of it is based on the content of the trailers alone, so I can't be certain what's a spoiler and what's not. That said, it would be difficult to spoil some of these films more than the people who made the trailer already have)

The Taking Of Pelham 123 (click here for the trailer)
The combination of Denzel Washington and John Travolta initially made this a film I was interested in seeing. However, the more I heard about Pelham 123, mainly about it being just another flat and formulaic action flick, the more my interest wained. I was still curious though, and thought it could be one to see just to make my own judgement on. That is, until I saw the trailers for it. I knew the basic plot of the film, which is where the trailer starts, and where it should end. But it doesn't. So we get the set-up: Washington's introduced as the average guy just trying to do his day job, Travolta as the sociopathic bad guy, whose actions throw Washington unwillingly into the hero role. Standard action fare. Fine, no problem. But hold on, the trailer has more to say. We get a bit more interaction between hero and villain; we find out some of the details behind the villain's motives. At this point I was really hoping the trailer would finish, or at least stop giving away the plot of the film. But it doesn't. It keeps going. We get Washington doing all the hero stuff, including a high speed taxi chase (of which we see a fair amount) where he's apparently taking a large amount of money down to Travolta in the subway train, and even see Washington and Travolta's characters' first meeting. And it goes on. By the time I'd finished watching the trailer, I felt I pretty much knew what happens in the film apart from the finale. If I have to sit through everything before the end knowing basically what's going to happen, then I just won't bother. And that's what Pelham 123's trailer did. It made me just not bothered about the film it was advertising. Good work, guys who made this trailer.

Funny People (clicky for trailery-type thingamajig)
Not quite as serious an offender as the trailer for Pelham 123, but this is a film that I am much more interested in seeing, so my disappointment at its ham-fisted trailer was amplified when I first saw it. This trailer essentially runs around a minute too long. We see Adam Sandler as a successful comedian - no problem. We see Seth Rogen as a comedian just starting out - fine. We see Jonah Hill. My interest is sustained despite this. A film about comedians is enough to draw me in. Then we find out Sandler's character is dying. A twist to add further interest. This looks like a film I'd really be interested in. The trailer continues, drawing me in further, and then when it should finish, it goes too far - Sandler's character recovers from his fatal affliction. A very frustrating fact to include in the trailer, as now when I go to see the film (which I still want to despite my annoyance at the trailer's spoilerific qualities), whenever they make out that Sandler's character is close to death and that it's very sad, in the back of my mind I'll simply be thinking "he's not going to die, so I don't need to worry about that". Essentially, up until the point that Sandler's character is told he's going to beat his illness, the film won't be as satisfying as it potentially could have been as I've had that major plot point revealed to me. Still looks to be a good film, but a shame that the trailer has slightly spoiled it for me already.

There have been a couple of others recently, but these are the ones that stuck out in my mind.

In contrast, the trailer for the new Coen brothers film A Serious Man is what I would define as a very good trailer.

So why is this trailer so much better than those for Pelham 123 and Funny People? Well, it's original for starters. I can't remember seeing a trailer like it before in terms of the way sound and image loops are used. Secondly, it's intriguing - it draws you in without showing you very much at all. I could make some guesses at what some of the film's themes and ideas might be, but I couldn't tell you what the story is. But I do want to know what it is, so the trailer has done it's job. The simple and unostentatious presentation of some of the Coens' previous hits at the end is the icing on the cake. True, not all films are able to do this; but this trailer can, and does it pretty well too.

Just to finish off, I've seen the trailer for G.I. Joe a few times recently. Not a particularly bad trailer in terms of giving away plot, but the film looks like total dross (and most probably without much plot to have given away). The reason I mention it is that, after seeing it for the first time, I immediately drew one or two comparisons with a film in particular from a few years ago. Those one or two grew to several comparisons on a second and third viewing. And I'm so glad to see that it's not just me who spotted them...

I was actually considering going to see G.I. Joe just in the hope that it is so bad that it's laughably bad, but I don't know if I can manage it now. I think to stomach the whole film I'd be hoping all the way through that Matt Damon was going to crop up and say his name repeatedly in a moronic voice.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Linkables 3/8/9 : Video Extravaganza

For some reason I ended up saving a ton of videos recently, so it seemed only natural to link them all at once:

What could possibly make two already-great genres of music even greater? Combining them! Hence, I give you 80's music + ragtime piano:

Secondly, lest we forget the campy sins of our forbears:

Thirdly, the eternal delight that is Literal Music Videos. There're loads of these out there, so I'll just link a couple, to wet your whistle:

And, finally, just Dara Ó Briain being funny: