Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Mist

I laughed at the ending of The Mist, out loud, an actual lol. This is a problem because it is absolutely not meant to be funny. I think the film makers had ‘heart wrenching’ in mind, but it doesn’t work like that at all. I can’t put my finger on why, the computer graphics are not the best you have ever seen, and the acting isn’t either – even though I am fairly sure it has the real life version of the bad kid in toy story in, and he was great in that, really believable. But none of these things is absolutely awful, and the story is based on a Steven King novel and actually has a bit more depth than expected. I think it is that mist is pretty scary stuff, anything could be out there – it would have been so much cooler if it was ghosts – and the film doesn’t make the most of this at all, why spend so much time making monsters when you can just cgi some mist, its the title for goodness sake.

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Machine Girl

What happens in Machine Girl is that in the first ten seconds we see something violent happen. Then throughout the film we see increasingly more violent things happen, each more violent than the last. Were the first violent act maybe someone getting a slap, assuming an act of violence occurs on average every two minutes (this is probably a conservative estimate) throughout the film from that slap starting point our ultimate act of violence would maybe be a beheading or something. Imagine possessing a sort of violence thermometer, this scenario would see you go on the scale from say the temperature on a British summers day to the Sahara desert. What Machine Girl does is starts you on the violence thermometer on or very close to the surface of the sun – with multiple murder with a knife and machine gun. There is nowhere to go from here, your violence thermometer is already boiling itself dry how can you possibly top this? Well picture the result of tempura’ing (not sure if this is correct, spell check suggested temporising) a hand – whilst it is still attached, then, if you will, picture, as an act of revenge for the hand tempura’ing the hot oil being thrown over the assailant. Now this isn’t a spoiler really, because remember this is violent act number two of probably about sixty. And this is why this film is so brilliant. As I said, each act of violence is just a little bit ‘worse’ (read – more cool) than the last, with machine gun death as a starting point you can imagine the ones towards the end are frankly ridiculous. This film sort of pretends to be taking itself seriously, all the acting is amazingly dead pan, but then hilarious things happen like high school ninjas and some sort of possessed with grief killers turn up. Did I mention that machine girl is called this because she has a machine gun instead of an arm. What sums up this film quite well is that all the way through the part where she has a machine gun for an arm you can literally see her real arm is tucked into her shirt – but I still absolutely loved it.

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Ironclad

So based on the cover alone this is what I thought was going to happen in Ironclad. Small group of Medieval villagers gets harassed by some assholes. From here on out we will call the assholes the outlanders, because they are potentially an invading army or something. At first it seems like there will be nothing they can do about this, the outlanders outnumber them ten to one and they are superior in arms and training. Cue destruction. Then, from out of the ashes rises a lowly blacksmiths son (his father dies at the hands of the leader of the outlanders) who spends literally minutes of a montage fashioning a suit of armour the likes of which has never been seen before, it is not pretty, but it is robust, and it makes him almost invincible. The next time the outlanders arrive to cause havoc he stands alone, surprising them with his swordplay and scaring them with his badass suit. The other previously chickenshit villagers rally behind him and it turns out they could defeat the outlanders with ease – but only after a nice long battle. What I thought was going to happen based purely on the cover was largely wrong though. The outlanders are sort of there, they are some sort of (Scandinavian?) mercenaries, but beyond this absolutely nothing I imagined happened. The suit of armour is just a normal suit of armour and its only worn for about six minuites. Ironclad is a wildly historically inaccurate but good fun bit of Medieva dressup, I enjoyed it but I certainly l don’t think its winning any prizes. The cover also said it had Brian Cox in it, but it let me down again when it wasnt Professor Brian Cox – he would have been amazing playing the lowly blacksmiths son, and probably has the intellect to make a pretty amazing suit of armour.

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Resistance

So in Resistance the Nazis have repelled the allied forces from mainland Europe and are embarking on an invasion of old Blighty. Sounds exciting. Its not. This is because despite the fact that people keep throwing around ever so exciting sounding things like “London has fallen” and “Manchester is under siege” we spend the whole film in a little Welsh valley. I wont tell you why the bad guys are interested in this particular valley because its jarringly out of kilter with the rest of the film, in that it is mildly exciting. I have nothing against the Welsh or their valley, indeed the scenery is achingly beautiful, the problem here is that so little actually happens in this film that we are treated to an awful lot of scenery, far too much. Beyond that there are shots of peoples faces, not saying anything, that last for literally minutes – it all seems like an exercise in stretching out a very thin plot. The acting is great even if what they are acting is a bit (actually, quite a lot) questionable, turns out you cant leave a woman on her own for five minutes before she needs the help of an invading force of men – just for help around the farm you see, oh and sometimes in her sexy bed fantasies. Resistance could have been brilliant, with just a bit more going on, or a much shorter run time all of these complaints vanish (apart from the accusation of sexism), but like I said it is very pretty to look at.

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Stakeland

Man if this was called steakland it would have rocked, like Man V’s Food but on an epic scale. The trailer for Stakeland made it look absolutely amazing. It didn’t really live up to its promise, I thought it was going to be a lot less like a road movie with vampires and a lot more like a vampires invade the house type film. It follows this formula: Arrive in place. Discover place has vampire infestation. Kill vampires (if at all possible, this is not a prerequisite, you can just run away like a coward), leave place, repeat. Its not a bad film, it has some good scares and some awesome bits, like when (spoilers) some nutcase religious group throws some vampires out of a helicopter. There is also a vague attempt here at working out exactly what a post vampire apocalypse America would look like, it has pockets of civilization, the back story is well worked out and there are nice little touches like signs saying things like “one alive in basement”. But for all this well thought out stuff none of the characters develop at all on their journey, they start it either as a badass, or a “finding himself” kid or a pregnant woman (Pregnant woman is a character type here, as is religious mother figure) and that is how they stay throughout the whole film. So steak, sorry stake wielding skills this gets a ten out of ten, character development and storyline, probably about a three. But then what did I expect from a film called Stakeland?

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Juan Of the Dead

An interesting thing about Juan of the Dead is that at the time of writing, on a certain website which lists every film ever made ever one of the plot keywords is “penis”. Why this is I have absolutely no idea. I mean there are a few moments which would elicit the mention of peni (more than one penis) but its hardly the main theme of the film. I was on that website because I have to research these posts don’t you know, I cant just write any old crap and think I can get away with it…. Wonky keywords aside this is a brilliant film. Literally the best zomcom I have ever seen, better than the genre defining Shaun of the Dead even, and that is high praise indeed. The master-stroke here is to actually ignore the fact that zombies are scary at all, just forget the cheap scares as they smash through doors and just make everything hilarious instead. The film follows Juan as his city turns to rubble, however whilst the majority of the population has been come bloodthirsty brain dead killers him and his friends are still doing what they know best, trying to make some fast cash. The single best thing about this film is this – the Cuban government tries to allay panic by blaming the U.S.A for the zombie infestation, and labels the infected “dissidents”, cue panicked citizens running through the streets screaming that their arm was eaten by a political provocateur. The film has a lot to say about Cuba, or should I say the films characters have a lot to say about it, they talk about their country in the same way we talk about the weather. What we can infer from this I don’t know, because I am not Cuban, nor do I know a great deal about the country, even though I watched Che (parts one and two) but I do think that whilst this was just a great comedy zombie film for me it might have held much more for a Cuban viewer, even if just to laugh at the in jokes. Social commentary. Because I am writing about this immediately after Zombieland it seems fair to draw comparisons, both are about the unifying nature of the zombie apocalypse, both conclude that ultimately with the right people you can survive anything, but whilst Zombieland did it all with a smile Juan does it all with a big heart, a tiny budget and a huge belly laugh – and perhaps the most poignant zombie ending we have seen in a while.

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Zombieland

Zombieland isnt really about zombies. I mean it is about zombies, but zombies are not really the point. See usually zombies are kind of scary. I mostly watch them with a girl (usually a hot babe, because I am a sort of James Bond type character see) to hide behind when something scary looks like it is going to happen. Look, before anyone says anything, I am not being sexist hiding only behind girls, I’d hide behind anyone but the line “I’m not gay but do you want to come and watch a film in bed with me” is too confusing for everyone involved. Anyway, this film elicited zero hiding moments. This is because the film is more about things like what it means to have true friends, family, security etc. It is all ever so moving. Then Bill Murray comes along and makes the film 100% more awesome just by being it it. Never mind that he doesn’t really seem to care that much, I more think he was acting like he didn’t care, he is that good an actor, and even when he isn’t caring that much he is still the funniest thing in Zombieland. The film is all a bit predictable, but it has got a big smile on its face and it catches you off guard once in a while so we will forgive it and enjoy the journey.

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Rampage

Rampage could have been some sort of social commentary on the conditions which lead to radicalism etc, like Four Lions. Or it could have been a really badass action film. Sadly it is neither, because it is boring, and the acting is so terrible I initially thought it might be intentional. The tag line for the film is Vengeance is Ruthless’ but I watched the film like literally two minutes ago, and I have absolutely no idea how this relates to the film, I mean maybe I didn’t get it, but it seemed rather to me like the main character kills a awful lot of people for no real reason – there is certainly nothing he needed to avenge…whatsoever. This is why the film could have been awesome, basically a guy makes a badass suit of armour for the 21st century and goes on a … you guessed it, Rampage, with automatic weapons. This could have been so cool if just like is parents had been kidnapped at the start or something, or he was some sort of Frankensteins monster. The film vaguely alludes to this but its not resolved in any way, and it would be much cooler if he was actually like a maniac whom society feared and persecuted. What I am getting at is that even though as much screen time is devoted to giving this guy some motivation as to having him do a rampage, it all makes very little sense at all.

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Snow Cake

This film had no explosions in it. I bring up the lack of explosions immediately because it has been known for me to judge films on explosion count alone; explosions can be a key indicator of quality, but what this film lacks in explosions it makes up for in everything else. Absolutely everything is spot on, the acting should be singled out for praise, Rickman is sort of like his usual self, but somehow a bit more human and Weaver does a fine job too. The whole thing looks pretty, sounds nice and the story left me feeling quite happy, even though it has some pretty sad moments. Snow Cake isn’t so much about a woman who has autism, its about a man working out his place in the world who happens to sort of end up spending time with a woman who has autism. What it does really well is says that we all need to be very wary of how we treat those who are different to ourselves without making it feel like it is on some moral mission to make the entire audience go out and become care workers or something, because everyone just ends up resenting films like that for making them feel guilty. As I said though, this isn’t really what the film is about, because everyone here has a past which they are living with, and dealing with it is emotionally complex without being trite or sentimental. Some of it is just plain funny which is impressive in a film which is dealing with as much as this one is. There was a missed oppertunity for an explosion quite early in the film, but then it might have compromised the budget a little for the great actors (though looking at the box office for this I think it might be more of a labour of love) but it is easily forgiven, because this is still a great little film.

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La Cabina

I wrote in my post about One Missed Call that it is slightly more scary than La Cabina, but as I was basing this assertion on having watched the film about four years ago I thought I had better just quickly check that is was as I remembered. Its only short see. And yes, I stand by my assertion that One Missed Call is scarier, but I don’t think it is is better. La Cabina its the best phone based (sort of) horror film out there, and the best phone box based film aside from maybe Bill and Ted, but that doesn’t really count because their phone box is a time machine – sorry if that’s a spoiler – and its still infinitely better than Phone Booth, which is crap. La Cabina fits an awful lot into its half hour run time, meditations on spectatorship, authority and loss, in far more intelligent ways than films of far higher budgets and longer run times. What La Cabina is really good at doing though is making sure you’ll never go into a phone box again without wedging your foot in the door while you make your call. I suppose the ubiquity of mobile phones has made this a lesser problem, but they are probably just killing us with brain radiation anyway. Bloody Phones.

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