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Archive for June, 2011

As we are drip fed information about The Dark Knight Rises, the greatest speculation (after the plot) is what will Catwoman look like? Below are just a few incarnations of the character from film, TV and comic books.

So what will Anne Hathaway’s costume look like? I’m thinking something like this:

But more matt than glossy like THIS fan art version. I’m not sure about the mask but I think the artist has the right idea about the rest of the costume. I think they were onto the right idea with Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow costume from Iron Man 2.

But then there is always the possibility that Christopher Nolan will throw us a curveball and Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle with little or no Catwoman.

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This months big release Green Lantern isn’t Ryan Reynolds first comic book movie, it is also unlikely to be his last, but are any of them any good?

Blade: Trinity (2004) – Hannibal King

Hannibal King a cured vampire and member of a group of vampire hunts known as the Nightstalkers led by Abigail Whistler (Jessica Biel) joins forces with Blade to battle Dracula. A more comedic character, he is very different to the one who first appeared in the Marvel Comic The Tomb of Dracula in 1970. It has been speculated that his and Biel’s characters were intended for there own spin-off movie, what could go wrong? Simply the film was rubbish and died at the box-office. The addition of the Nightstalkers was actually part of the problem, finding something for all the characters to do distracted and detracted from the plot, caused a rift between the star (Wesley Snipes) and killed the franchise.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) – Wade Wilson aka Deadpool

After surviving a firing squad Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is recruited by Major William Stryker (Danny Huston) to Team X, a group of mutants including swordsman Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). The character later becomes “The Deadpool”. WARNING PLOT SPOILER The Deadpool appears to he killed by Wolverine in the climactic fight but one of the post credit scenes (there is more than one version) suggests he survived. Despite being pretty rubbish the movie did okay at the box-office and sequels are on the way. At this moment in time a Deadpool movie is slated for 2014 with Reynolds reprising the role. “The Wolverine” a sequel to X-Men Origins: Wolverine is due out next year, it has been rumoured that Deadpool may make an appetence there but it is at present just that, a rumour.

Green Lantern (2011) – Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern

After two Marvel comic book adaptations Reynolds made the move to DC and got the leading role as Hal Jordan, a reckless test pilot who becomes a member of The Green Lantern Corps a sort of intergalactic peace keeping force. Telling an origin story the movie introduces the character and was possibly intended as part one of a trilogy. There is also a possibility of a Justice League of America (DC’s equivalent to The Avengers) movie. Based on reviews these things are unlikely, only a strong box-office can save the franchise.

R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department) (2012) – Nick Walker

His comic book career doesn’t end there, next year he is due to play Nick Walker in an adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department). The story of un-dead police officers working the “deadbeat” including the recently killed Nick Walker (Reynolds) who is trying to find the man who killed him. The film will be directed by Robert Schwentke and co-star Jeff Bridges.

The unfortunate thing about the three comic book films he has made to date is that although none of the movies are much good, Reynolds is pretty good in all of them. Hopefully R.I.P.D. will prove to be a better movie for him.

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How many times has someone told you they don’t like a movie that you love? I don’t have problem with this, I think it is good for viewers to have their own taste what really annoys is people trashing a movie because it is fashionable to do so, this is even worse when people haven’t even seen the movie in question. With this in mind I have come up with a list of movies that I think have been unfairly criticised in recent years. Feel free to tell me you hate them and I am full of shit but please watch them first!

Jenifer’s Body (2009)

After winning an Oscar for Juno there was a bizarre backlash against screenwriter Diablo Cody resulting in situation where her next movie was never going to live up to scrutiny. Then you have the movies star Megan Fox, fresh from the horrendous Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Fox was not a good name to have in the titular lead role. To add to the pressure director Karyn Kusama was also looking for some kind of cinematic redemption after her second feature Æon Flux (2005) failed to live up to her impressive début, Girlfight (2000). So how can I defend this movie? Well firstly Megan Fox is perfectly cast playing on her reputation and image, secondly she may have the title role but the real leading lady and star of the film is the sensational Amanda Seyfried. The story is funny well paced and does a pretty good job of balancing horror with comedy. I think this is actually a movie most people didn’t see rather than didn’t like, so if you dismissed it at the cinema give it a go on DVD.

Doomsday (2008)

Doomsday is a bit of a mess of a movie but it such a good fun mess it really doesn’t matter. Made up of multiple set pieces including shootouts, car chases and sword fights (inspired by movies as varied as Escape from New York, Aliens, Mad Max 2 & 3 and Gladiator) the final result is a little disjointed but each element is extremely well made. At the heart of the story and holing it all together is Rhona Mitra in her best role to date as a sort of female Snake Plissken. The rest of the cast is fantastic too particularly Bob Hoskins as the grizzled world weary chief of police. Not as good as Neil Marshall’s masterpiece The Descent (2005) but still an accomplished piece of work, a more polished and high quality take on a Enzo G. Castellari style movie. It actually gets better each time I watch it.

Kingdom Of Heaven (2005)

On its release Kingdom of Heaven received mixed reviews. A true epic in its original form, the directors cut is even better. On repeated viewings I actually enjoy the movie more than director Ridley Scott’s better received Gladiator (2000). Part history, part fiction the movie tells the story of the defence of Jerusalem against the Muslim leader Saladin. The great thing about the movie is how old-fashioned it is, that’s right, I did say old-fashioned is good! With vast sets, thousands of costumed extras and amazing cinematography the movie is like the old movies that people say “they don’t make them like this anymore”. The plot gets a bit weighed down and sags in the middle but this is a tiny criticism of a great movie that really is underappreciated.

Miami Vice (2006)

A slick thriller that actually presents a far more believable and gritty impression of undercover police work than the old TV show. And that’s the problem, some people probably went into it expecting a fun nostalgia trip others wanted a high octane all action film. That creates a twofold problem, as well as the people who didn’t like it for these reasons others who would probably liked it stayed away for the same reasons. Its problem is finding a comfortable middle ground, it doesn’t have an underlying message to make it a “worthy” Oscar friendly film but it isn’t a dumb mindless action film. If you haven’t seen it give it a chance, if you have give it a second chance, either way forget the TV show and watch it with an open mind.

The Beach (2000)

I’m a big fan of Alex Garland’s debut novel The Beach (although I actually think his lesser known follow up The Tesseract is a better book). When the film version was announced I had mixed feelings; Danny Boyle seemed like the perfect choice to direct but I just couldn’t see Leonardo DiCaprio as Richard. Then the movie opened to poor reviews and I went to see it with some trepidation but was actually pleasantly surprised. The film looks great; DiCaprio is a very different Richard to the one from the book but that isn’t a problem, neither is the fact that he is American not British; the changes to the story, although annoying to many work well in the context of the medium, and that is important, cinema is a very different medium to literature; Angelo Badalamenti’s score is excellent. All in all it is an unfairly panned movie and more than a decade later its still an enjoyable movie.

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Stake Land

With the summer blockbuster season in full swing the big release of the week is The Green Lantern in 3D or 2D, having seen the trailer I’m in no rush to see the movie, fortunately there is a plan B. B for B movie! Five years ago director Jim Mickle gave us the direct to DVD classic Mulberry Street about an infection spreading through New York City that turns people into homicidal zombie/rat-mutants. His second feature Stake Land is similar in theme but larger in scale and has been rewarded with a cinema release. As with Mulberry Street Mickle co wrote the script with Nick Damici who is also the star of the movie.

Martin (Connor Paolo) is a normal American teenager until the world is overcome in a vampire apocalypse and his family is killed. Saved by a maverick vampire hunter known only as Mister (Nick Damici) the pair travel north towards “New Eden” north Americas last hope for humanity. Along the way they encounter other waifs and strays trying to survive any way they can on the road and in the locked down towns. They also discover something far more dangerous than the vampires themselves, a cult who believe the vampires are heaven-sent.

The Twilight movies have their detractors, surprisingly I’m not one of them. Although they have their faults and aren’t exactly brilliant movies, they are harmless and aren’t terrible either. Regardless of your thoughts on sparkly vampires, one thing is certain they are not horror and that’s where vampires belong, horror movies. And that’s what you get here, a monster that is more frightening because it is more believable. Vampire movies of recent years have varied hugely, Let The Right One In is gritty and benefits from realism (within a fantasy genre), as does 30 Days of Night that adds a high concept. On the subject of high concept they don’t come much more bold than Shadow of the Vampire. The simplicity of Thirst is countered by its meaning, subtext and dark humour. Underworld forgoes all these things but is slick, sexy and action packed. So ho does Stake Land fit into all this? With its simplicity and brutality it shares more DNA with 30 Days of Night than any of the other recent vampire movies but it actually has more in common with apocalyptic road movies like The Road and The Book of Eli or even Zombieland and Carriers.

The story is told through voiceover (from Martin) but there is surprisingly little dialogue between the main characters, this creates an interesting tone. The only fault of the movie is its reliance on the voiceover to tell us where and when we are, the passage of time and space would not be clear without it. The inclusion of The Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Christian militia led by Jebedia Loven (Michael Cerveris) who believe the vampires are sent by God as a sort of Plagues of Egypt or Great Flood brings a further dimension and extra depth to the story. The context of the story is always against these people, our heroes are outsiders who are dragged into their world and insiders rebelling against it as in dystopian film. The cast is perfect with recognisable faces but no big names. Danielle Harris is well know within the horror genre but has never fulfilled her early potential and Kelly McGillis been virtually MIA since her heyday (1985-88). I can see Connor Paolo moving on to bigger things in future.

Like The Road, the colour palette of the movie is cold combining earth tones with blues and greys, this is a dying and decaying landscape that is dark, dull and autumnal at best. This is a reflection of the movie as a whole, vampires have been with us in fiction for along time, certainly since the origin of cinema, they have always reflected the era in which they were made. This movie is no exception to the rule the tone is bleak with a small but vital glimmer of hope, in other words a reflection of the world today. Like any movie that exists in a fantasy or parallel universe the movie is enhanced by a strong subtext; whilst this is largely left to the interpretation of the viewer there are clear comments on race, religion, war and politics as well as the economy. For those looking for a scary horror movie, it isn’t scary in a cheep make you jump way but it is truly frightening in its depiction of “The Brotherhood” in the real world we don’t have vampires but we do have zealots and they are a lot more scary than fanged monsters.

Intelligent and thoughtful whilst still being entertaining, it does all a horror movie should. A film that benefits from its low key, low budget approach and is easily the best horror film I have seen recently and certainly the best vampire movie since Let The Right One In. I hope to see more movies like this from Jim Mickle and Nick Damici.

Four Stars Out Of Five

★★★★

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Acceptance Speech

Sorry no speeches, just want to thank everyone who took part in the “A Life in Movies” bogathon and all the LAMB’s who voted for it in the recent LAMMY’s.

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Been a bit busy lately and have been neglecting my blog. I thought I would get back into it with a simple post I could throw together quickly. Nearly a month ago Anna from Defiant Success tagged me in her Fifteen Movie Questions Meme. Although I could answer most of the questions without even thinking, a few left me pondering, here goes:

Movie you love with a passion.

Some Like It Hot

Movie you vow to never watch.

I have never vowed not to watch a movie but given my dislike of ABBA and apathy for musicals I think its unlikely that I will ever see Mamma Mia!

Movie that literally left you speechless.

Myrtres: see it and you will understand.

Movie you always recommend.

Fandango:  It isn’t the greatest film ever made but like Dazed and Confused it’s a hard film to dislike and no matter what your mood, you feel better after watching it than you did before.

Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.

Nicholas Cage, and he has made some really crappy movies but I just can’t help myself!

Actor/actress you don’t get the appeal for.

Julia Roberts: Appeal can refer to sex appeal or acting ability, sorry Julia, I just don’t see either.

Actor/actress, living or dead, you’d love to meet.

Clint Eastwood: With a career as both actor and director that spans generations and genres he is the ultimate movie star.

Sexiest actor/actress you’ve seen. (Picture required!)

Eva Green

Dream cast.

Not sure I have one, Mamma Mia (see above) has a pretty impressive cast, it doesn’t want to make me see it. A film where every actor is perfect for the part they play would have to be 12 Angry Men.

Favourite actor pairing.

Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some like It Hot.

Favourite movie setting.

Monument Valley: I grew up watching John Ford westerns and was intrigued by the setting, it doesn’t matter that it is hundreds of mile from where the movies were set, it is such an iconic location.

Favourite decade for movies.

Not sure I have one but will say the 70’s it was responsible for many of my favourite movies, it was probably the decade when the modern movie was born and it was also the decade I was born in.

Chick flick or action movie?

Action Movie

Hero, villain or anti-hero?

Anti-Hero every time.

Black and white or colour?

I love both, if I have to choose I would go Black and White.

Finally, the tagging. Being a little late to the party I know a lot of people have already been tagged, I have tried to avoid them.

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The Contenders are:

Thor: Thor, son of Odin is a powerful but arrogant warrior until he is cast out of Asgard and forced to live on Earth amongst humans. Done badly Thor could be the least accessible and credible Marvel comic book adaptation, in the hands of director Kenneth Branagh it is funny, exciting, entertaining and fun. Advertised as being in 3D, Fortunately there was also a 2D option, no prizes for guessing which one I saw.

Hanna: I really enjoyed the elements of this movie, the characters, the scenarios, the action and the acting are all good but the overall movie just feels a little flat and a little hollow. Saoirse Ronan is an engaging heroine, Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander are suitably chilling villains, of the leading cast only Eric Bana is underused. The Chemical Brothers score works well too. The problem I just walked away thinking what was the point of all that?

Priest: Last year I saw a movie called Legion starring Paul Bettany and directed by special effects guru Scott Charles Stewart, at the time the duo had a second movie in the can, Priest. Rather than receiving the original planned release the movie went back into the F-X lab to be retrofitted with 3D. Loosely based on a comic book series of the same name Priest tells the story a warrior priest attempting to find his niece who has been kidnapped by vampires. With a story that owes more than a nod to John Ford’s The Searchers it is actually a far better film than most reviews have given it credit for. Unfortunately there was no 2D option and as you would expect, the 3D is completely pointless.

13 Assassins: Nineteenth century Feudal Japan; in order to assassinate the Shogun’s insane and sadist illegitimate brother before, a small group of samurai take on an army. Famed for his violent action and horror thrillers, Takashi Miike takes on historical drama but turns it into a truly Takashi Miike movie. The first half of the movie is heavy on dialogue and low on action, the second half is all out action. This Black Hawk down with Katanas! Well made, well acted but bloody and brutal, its not for everyone.

Water for Elephants: The story of an older person telling the tale of a bygone age has been done countless times before; although there is nothing wrong with this movie it is far from the greatest entry into the sub genre. The cast headed by Twilight star Robert Pattinson and Oscar-winners Christoph Waltz and Reese Witherspoon is good. The production design and photography are great recreating the depression era in a colourful and believable display. So what’s wrong with the movie? Simple put there is nothing wrong, there is just nothing exceptional about it.

The Way: A road movie without cars. An American man travels to France to recover his body of his son who is killed whilst walking the El camino de Santiago (The Way Of St. James), an 800 kilometre pilgrimage. He soon finds himself walking the pilgrimage himself. Written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his farther Martin Sheen the movie was conceived when Sheen walked the Camino with his grandson Taylor Estevez (Emilio Estevez‘s son) a few years ago. Over two hours of people walking could have been dull and boring, it is actually engrossing, likeable and enquiringly touching, thanks in no small part to the excellent supporting cast including Yorick Van Wageningen, Deborah Kara Unger and James Nesbitt.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Cap’n Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) is seeking the mythical Fountain Of Youth, along the way he crosses paths with old flame Angelica (Penélope Cruz), her farther, the legendry pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane), Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) and a Spanish fleet for good measure. After the tedious parts two and three I didn’t know what to expect from this fourth movie, despite its many faults, it is actually a surprisingly good fun swashbuckling adventure that I enjoyed more than I thought I would.

Attack the Block: An ambitious and interesting premise sees an 80’s American style monster movie in the vain of Tremors, Gremlins or Critters relocated to south London. A gang all in their early teens fight to protect their tower block from “t’ings” from outer space. Focusing on comedy over scares, the movie is often funny and largely enjoyable. There is an interesting connection/correlation between the gang (who first appear with hoodies and bandanas covering their faces) and the (faceless) aliens that possibly says more about society than any other part of the film does. On the whole it isn’t as funny as it should be and the character arc doesn’t provide the level of redemption the filmakers appear to intend.

Blitz: If you suspend all sense of morality this is a surprisingly good genre movie that owes a debt to revenge movies of the 70’s and 80’s. Jason Statham makes a good Dirty Harry alike cop and his mismatched budy relationship with Paddy Considine works really well, however the real star of the movie is Aidan Gillen as a sociopath serial killer. The supporting characters are largely superfluous to the plot, the premise isn’t bad but the plot is wafer thin making the movie more reminiscent of a TV show than a feature film. An enjoyable if slight British thriller.

Win Win: Lawyer and high school wrestling coach Mike (Paul Giamatti) becomes the guardian of Leo, an elderly client (Burt Young) for purely fanatical reasons. When Leo’s grandson Kyle (Shaffer) comes to stay it Mike and his long suffering wife (Amy Ryan) feel obliged to look after him. Kyle’s presence soon has a profound effect on everyones lives as well as on the fortunes of Mikes failing wrestling team. An engaging and interesting morality tale littered with interesting characters but it is just a little too thin and directionless to be a great movie

Julia’s Eyes: Julia (Belen Rueda) doesn’t believe the death of her blind twin sister (also Belen Rueda) is suicide. Despite the protestations of her husband Julia starts to investigate, this is made more complicated as she is suffering from the same condition as her sister and is slowly loosing her own eyesight. A wonderfully atmospheric horror/thriller that isn’t afraid to take its time and let the story develop slowly. Belen Rueda (You may remember her from the excellent The Orphanage (2007) also produced by Guillermo del Toro) is mesmerising in the title role expressing every bit of her pain and determination in her facial expression.

So what is the movie of the month? Of the eleven movies listed above there are three real contenders: 13 Assassins is as breathtakingly brilliant as it is brutal; Julia’s Eyes is comfortably the best horror/thriller of the year to date; but the movie of the month goes to the surprisingly moving The Way.

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