Monthly Archives: December 2013

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

That title! Its laboriously long winded. The film is too. I guess I was expecting something rather different. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (I actually copied and pasted that) is hereafter referred to as ROTPOTA which sounds more exciting but is still rather too long winded. In my brain ROTPOTA was a little like an zombie movie with apes. Some idiot would do some animal testing (this part happens), apes would gain intelligence and go…well…ape shit. Then James Fanco was going to step in and look all handsome and try to stop them from killing some family members or something, before maybe forging some sort of bipartisan agreement with the newly founded nation of Apemerica whereby they will meet demands in exchange for relaxation of some, but not all, of the economic sanctions currently imposed on them. Apemerica is oil rich you see, but has been crippled by U.N. … er Unapeted Nations … sanctions which keep its ability to export extremely low. Franco, in the face of crumbling support would have to argue that the concessions were for the greater good, and were only for six months anyway, and that really the face to face meetings alone are a historical first … wait a second. We already know that, given that this is technically a prequel, that the whole world falls to the apes (damn stinking ones I heard) so this story does not end so well. Anyway what I am getting at via this admittedly circuitous route is that the film assumes a historical distrust of apes. The problem is that this arises from the fact that they are treated like crap at the start of the film, so when they do eventually gain enough intelligence to escape they clearly just go and kill everyone they see. That is, except the one man who was nice to them. He is allowed to live. In reality the film takes about ten years to get to the part where the monkies escape and go crazy, thus finally sealing its woefully predictable “dont do animal testing” warning with a big “because your face will get eaten off”. A sentiment which really is overshadowed by the blindingly obvious “dont be a dick, and generally people, er, monkies, wont be a dick to you”. Anybody learning any lessons here, or do we need monkies to tell us everything.

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Alan Partridge – Alpha Papa

Having spent a good few years of my life in North Norfolk it was a small (very small) thrill to see some of it caught up in big screen magic. Small thrill is something of an overstatement actually, and big screen magic is rather more of one. That is not to say Alpha Papa isn’t good, its brilliant, it has everything you’d expect from the Alan Partridge character. All of the self aggrandising awkward silliness which eventually leads to something like an epiphany – but never quite, all of the jokes about/with Partridge and enough of the characters from the tv series to give it all a sense of continuity. But really this is just a polite way of saying this should have just stayed on tv. Credit should be given, there are no ridiculous explosions here, or anything else that gives a sense that anyone was going down the “this is a film, we need to make it worthy of the bigger screen” route, but part of me sort of wished they had made a bit more of an effort. I am most cynical about the whole campaign to get the premiere of the film moved to Norwich. As a county in love with jokes about its own backwards-ness, whilst rentals in Norfolk couldn’t even see the film a third of its_ way into profit (I did the math) it could be the perfect position from which to start a slow burning cult following, which is exactly what the film needs. What better way to stoke the fire than an impromptu relocation of the premiere from the glamourous capital to the ‘seen better days’ underdog cinema in Anglia Square. Alpha Papa had some good laughs and some awkward ones, but ultimately it left me wondering if it wouldn’t have been better to leave Alan in peace at his local radio station, which incidently looks rather like the building at the end of my street…

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Sharknado

Font of all knowledge wikipedia tells me that its pretty rare for really big storms to hit California. I didn’t bother reading the whole article so I cant tell you why. But I did read enough to tell you that whilst they have more big storms than say … Essex… they certainly have way less than the Cayman Islands, which some other website told me was the hurricane capital of the world. I also found out that whilst Britain has largely temperate weather it is also the least predictable, presumably because we still try and do it by looking at what side of the tree moss is growing on or something, instead of using satellites like the rest of the world. Anyway. This lack of cloudy days means that half the time the apparently (shark)nado ridden city is bathed in sunlight. I mean I have seen pictures of tornado damage where one house is destroyed, and right next to it another is relatively untouched, but this was ridiculous. Its all ok though because Sharknado takes place in a world where continuity is just a vague concept, not something to be really taken seriously. Which is the point, nothing in this film is meant to be taken seriously. Which is why it is so brilliant. From the very outset you can see that Jason Simmons, as ‘Baz’ the Tasmanian sidekick is going to be absolutely hilarious, not least because his hair makes him look a little like an owl, and he does not disappoint. Every line is a wisecrack, he even throws out a few crackers immediately after people have died, just to lighten the mood. Oh, apologies, its not technically ‘the outset’. There is a slightly wonky prelude where a Cuban captain does some dodgy shark fishing and nearly sells the catch to Marcus Choi, who does a good job of being some sort of sharks fin soup crime … guy. I didnt really understand what was going on, but trust me when I say, there was something like a billion sharks involved and it didnt look legit at all. Thus setting up a rather good “if thou overfish sharks, they will rain down upon thee” premise for the film. This isn’t really a spoiler though because the whole incident is never referred to again and I had almost forgotten it had happened. I guess an hour and an twenty minites was just a tiny bit too short and they needed a little padding. Another hilarious trope is the way that anyone who denies that sharks could be raining down on the city immediately gets eaten, or splatted, or skewered. Its almost as if the film is saying it out loud, this cant happen, it wont happen, but try to take apart our logic and you’ll forget why you are watching this film” and if you are watching it for any other reason than to see sharks taking bites out of people as they fly to earth, then you are a fool.

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The Brothers Grimm

I really wanted to like this film, a nice bit of escapism that didn’t take itself too seriously was what I was expecting. The main issue with the escapism bit is that the cgi in the film is so terrible that it really becomes impossible to immerse yourself in it, especially annoying as it is mostly stuff that Harry Potter has shown to be perfectly possible, people turning into animals, bits of fabric floating around by their own volition etc. Beyond this the plot is slightly bonkers, it makes sense, but in a strange effort to put a tiny bit (I really mean tiny in most cases) of most of the well known Grimms fairy tales, as well as some they didnt write, we end up with with something of a fairytale clusterfuck. There is a huge amount of material here, any part of which could have served as some aspect of this sort of Grimm genesis story. So much so that it makes absolutely no sense that in the main the story is concerned with a nonsense exchange between the brothers and the French government, who at this particular time in history are busy occupying Germany, but also devote an awful lot of time to exposing the con artist Grimms. The accents are forgivable because they are so over the top. Peter Stormare is the best thing about this film, I cant put my finger on why he is so watchable, but his slightly sinister, slightly insane and extremely silly depiction of a torture crazed Italian (whos inclusion is not really explained) is brilliant, its a shame that he outshines Damon and Ledger who despite all their efforts just dont invite a great deal of sympathy. The fact that Ledger seems to be channeling a sort of nervous land bound Jack Sparrow, without the jumping around doesnt really help. This film could have done what Enchanted managed to do two years later, have a lot of fun with some stories which everyone knows and loves, but ultimately it serves as a Grimm reminder that however good your source material is, you still need to make it work with the tale you are trying to tell. 10 points from Griffindor for not managing to write that without a Grimm pun. Apologies.  

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