Wednesday, 25 July 2007

The Simpsons Movie

The most fun I’ve had at the cinema all year.

Yes, that’s how I’d sum up the greatness that is The Simpsons Movie. It is just plain uninterrupted fun, filled to the brim with jokes, self-references and imaginative humour.

I laughed constantly for it’s 80 minute running time, probably on average a decent laugh-out loud joke every 30 seconds. Finally a movie this year that delivers on it’s promise!

Don’t get me wrong if you’re not already a Simpsons fan there’s nothing overly new here that’s going to entice you in. It really is just three episodes back to back (be that 3 very good episodes) and it does exactly what it says on the tin.

It reminded me how funny and dynamic the Simpsons is. I’ve been a fan since the first series (when I was five years old) and I still watch it today some 17 years later (as do most fans).

I think it’s agreed that the best episode are in the first ten seasons (which I love), where each episode has an obvious story (maybe two) that it wants to tell, ever since then it’s gone a bit downhill. I don’t know why, but it seems to be that the focus of one or two solid stories has been lost and they just try to cram lots of crazy situations/jokes into an episode now with out the heart, and so it lost some of it’s appeal to me.

With the movie though you get the best of both worlds, here you have a core story that the movie focuses on completely (with a few side stories that interweave around it) and lots of genuinely funny jokes and situation mixed in as it goes along (that add to it rather than just being there for the sake of it).

I also particularly liked the fact that the movie stays centred on the Simpson family. Yes, pretty much every character who’s ever been in an episode makes an appearance (be it speaking or just in the background) but only in the context of the story. They could have just crammed every character into it and it would have ended up being a complete mess, but here they have the perfect balance between the Simpson family and making sure all the other favourites get a look in.

I love the look of the film, the added budget really gives the movie a polish and a sheen. Whether it be with the extra shading or the cgi cel-shaded backgrounds that really do look incredible when they move and spin around. Everything just has an added bit of quality about it to differentiate it from a regular episode.

I really did think this movie was genuinely funny throughout, and therefore I won’t write about any of the jokes as this movie is definitely best viewed fresh with no spoilers. If you’re a fan of the Simpson brand of comedy it is hilarious. I can’t remember a film where I have laughed constantly from beginning to end, my cheeks were sore afterwards. Not every gag is going to make you rupture your appendix but they’ll make you giggle, and none of the jokes fall flat. The whole audience I watched it with were having an excellent time. After about half way through I thought to myself “I hope they keep this up for the whole film”, and they did! The jokes keep coming and the story moves at a brisk pace (no fat to be trimmed).

The humour here is a mix of genre’s (as with the series) you have clever and imaginative stuff, slapstick, dry and few pop-culture references, but all of it works and isn’t out of place.

Thoroughly recommended to anyone who is a fan of the Simpsons and I’ll definitely be seeing again.


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Thursday, 19 July 2007


More than meets the eye… You’re kidding right?

I will be reviewing this purely as a film and a film alone. I have never watched an episode of the TV series (well if I have I can't remember it) and have never owned any of the toys. I missed the whole Transformer fad by about five years, my childhood heroes were the Ninja Turtles. So I watched this from a pure movie going perspective, no nostalgia to live up to and no pre-conceived notions of what it should have been.

I have been watching the progress of this from the start (as I do with most films that take my interest). Michael Bay got announced as the director and there’s a little bit of an uproar! But to me, this is the perfect choice, if you’re going to have a movie about giant robots, kicking the crap out of each other and blowing stuff up, nobody blows shit up quite as well as Mr Bay. I’ve never hated any of his previous films (Like some people seem to), and have quite enjoyed Bad Boys and The Rock.

The teaser was released, which I thought looked really good, a mix between Independence Day and War of the Worlds. All very interesting.

Then the final trailers came out, and for some reason I was a little disappointed, despite the special effects looking amazing, I couldn’t help thinking it looked like a really high budget Power Rangers movie (of which I’m not a fan) and combined with all the voice acting in it being terrible.

However, as more TV Spots came out it was being marketed as some serious no holds-barred action alien invasion movie, like Independence Day but with bad-ass transforming robots. If they pulled it off it could potentially be amazing.

My thoughts...

What the hell happened?! As me and my mate left the cinema we asked ourselves did we just watch a comedy spoof of a transformers movie or was that actually the real film.

Seriously, robots pissing on people? Robot’s getting high from electricity cables? Robots break-dancing and chanting “Yo Yo Yo!” A crazy little schizophrenic robot, spitting and farting it’s way around trying to win the award for most annoying cgi character since Jar Jar Binks! Ebay as a “story” device? Slow-motion looking into each others eyes, trying to be romantic?

Would you like some ham with your cheese?

This movie is so bad I can’t believe it ever got made (especially using this script) and far from being taken seriously. The tone of the film takes a gear shift every 2 seconds. Is it a comedy, is it a spoof, is it an action film or is it an alien invasion movie? Who knows?

It is all over the show, sometimes it tries to be a comedy with stupid immature jokes like “Hey wouldn’t it be funny to see a small dog in a leg cast, have an old black lady put her middle finger up, have a dog pee on a robot or a cute mum say masturbation?” No, it’s not funny, it’s a cheap shot and the most unimaginative type of ‘comedy’ in the world. And your know what? It’s not even needed, it takes away from the film (well if you can even call it that).

Then it tries to be really serious. But by trying so hard it looks like a spoof, with people screaming “Oh dead god” and this is end of the world stuff people, be afraid, be very afraid. But with their never being any sense of fear or an ounce of tension what-so-ever.

Then sometimes it’s so stupid that it actually does appear to become a spoof as if on purpose, but I assume the writers didn’t intend to do this.

The script is absolutely appalling – it’s filled with the most terrible dialogue I can remember hearing in a film, cliché character after redundant cliché character and the story is so full of plot holes and inconsistencies that you can’t believe people got paid for it.

Ebay?! Wtf is that all about? You’re telling me that the most advanced cybernetic organisms in the universe uses ebay to find a pair of glasses? A pair of glasses that somehow have the directions to finding the Energon Cube? This is what the foundations of a story is based on?

Let me tell you - There is nothing quite as embarrassingly cringe worthy as seeing a giant robot shouting at a little boy for “EBAY ITEM 45213!” As soon as that happens you know this movie is in trouble.

This is a script so appallingly bad it pisses all over a well established franchise. I’m not even a fan of the original series and I can see that, it’s down-right awful. It’s like some smug git bought the rights and then just to piss everyone off who really wanted to make it, he released this stinking pile of crap.

There are so many things I didn’t like I could rant on for days, like the stupid as hell Sector 7 agents, all of which are completely unbelievable 2-dimensional characters (especially the lead agent). The annoying as hell Jar Jar Binks wannabe robot, (what thought process was behind that abomination of wasted special effects is beyond me).

Then some scenes appear to be added (just for the sake of it) because it ‘might’ be funny i.e. cop interrogation. This is not needed and it does nothing for the progression of the story or the characters. Save this for the deleted scene section on the DVD guys.

The robots themselves are reduced to jokes and self-parody, they act like lumbering idiots (demonstrated very effectively in the garden scene). It’s just annoying that there was so much potential and it was all wasted.

If I was a Transformer fan I would be severely pissed off.

There must be some good things right?

Well yeah, the special effects are amazing and so are the action scenes (when you can see what’s going on). Some shots are absolutely mind blowing; like the robots transforming and fighting each other and throwing each other through buildings. My favourite part was StarScream fighting about 9 F16’s (that shot was awesome). It’s also even more impressive considering this movie cost half to make what Spider-man 3 and Pirates 3 did.

But the action here is all spectacle as you really don’t give a crap about anyone (human or robot). This is mainly due to there being no character development or the fact that after all the ‘spoof’ stuff you really can’t take the film seriously or believe in what they’re fighting for, which is a shame. If there was some emotional connection to the people, it would probably elevate the scenes to a whole new level, but as it stands they just look pretty.

I really like the scenes with Bumblebee and Sam, as he tries to get Mikela, with different music playing and stuff. I thought that was a genuinely good idea and the only attempt at any character development, but that’s where it ends.

I’d sum it up by saying – imagine meeting the hottest girl you’ve ever seen. From a distance she looks stunning, but once you talk to her, all she does is make fart jokes and talk about how amazing she is.

That’s exactly what Transformers is.


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Wednesday, 18 July 2007


Film. Of. The. Year.

Yeah I know that’s a big statement, but seriously I thought this film was amazing! To me it was almost perfect on every single level, great cast, great atmosphere, great effects (cgi, miniatures and sound), great cinematography, great directing, great pacing and it created so much tension I was literally on the edge of my seat. In a word – Great.

I can’t remember the last time I was pulled so much into a movie world, I was really invested in the characters and felt like I was there with them. Everything just clicked into place.

The way all the characters interact and talk to each other, just feels right. It doesn’t seem scripted, it’s a bunch of astronauts doing their job and talking amongst themselves. There’s no great character stereotypes either (like oh we have jock or a cheerleader or anything stupid like that), everyone has there own personalities and quirks but it’s much more subtle.

For me the two standouts are easily Cillian Murphy and Chris Evans. I suppose in this very much ensemble piece Cillian is the main character, he’s the most important and he probably gets the majority of screen time. But Evans definitely emerges as the favourite. He just has this cocky charisma about him, and says the things you’d want to say in the same situation. He gets all the little quirky one-liners without them coming across as such.

“There’s not enough oxygen left for all of us.”
“Are you suggesting we let Han kill himself?”

The sound design is phenomenal, every time you view the ship from outer space, there’s an eerie humming silence that feels the cinema. It wraps around you and makes your hairs stand on end. It gave me the sensation of floating through space, where there really is nothing for millions of miles in any direction. (Oh, bit of advice, watch this in a cinema with a good sound system.)

The set design is incredible, it feels real, like this is actually what the interior of a space ship would be like. It’s not crazy or uniquely designed to try and standout as being different, the fact that it’s be grounded in a sense of reality makes it believable.

The CGI is all top-notch, some of the best I have ever seen in a film. It is flawless in every aspect. The ship (Icarus II) is incredibly detailed and there are shots that completely spin around it, so by the end of the film you have seen it from every angle.

The sun itself is magnificent, a sight to behold. Whether it’s people just looking at it from a distance or it’s exploding in furious flames. It feels powerful, you get a true sense of the huge amount of energy this things gives out and it’s unrelenting.

The cinematography deserves special mention. Every shot is nigh on perfect and framed to a tee, the whole film looks beautiful, whether it’s the steely blues of the ships interior or the ferocious reds and oranges of the sun. The details and clarity that has been captured is truly astounding and I can’t wait to see this in Hi-Def when it’s on DVD.

Okay so having all these elements in a film doesn’t necessarily make it great, it can look pretty and sound amazing but if it hasn’t got a strong story at it’s core to pull it all together it’s in trouble.

The story from a purely conceptual standpoint I really dug (whether or not it’s possible is another question), but I just thought it was fairly original. Sending a crew to our dying sun to re-ignite it with the equivalent of a nuclear bomb, excellent.

Of course, this is just a concept and all of this is established in the first minute. The script has to turn it into a 2 hour long film that is enjoyable to watch. And boy is it! From the start to the very end I was hooked, the pacing is perfect, moving on at a brisk pace but always giving room for character development. It builds more and more tension as it goes on and you really get attached to the characters to the point where I was screaming in my head “Get the hell out of there!!”

I loved it. When the shit hits the fan it just keeps escalating and they turn up the temperature again and again.

By the end when it turns almost into a slasher movie, with a crazed lunatic running about the ship taking out the survivors one by one, it goes into full gear. I loved the fact that they never let you see the psycho clearly either (the blur effects were a nice touch), it makes him just that bit more menacing.

The set pieces are all marvellous and original, with the sun being used to it’s full menacing potential. Everything about this film shines class. I can’t believe it was made on budget of £40m either, it puts the other action directors (ones with budgets of £300m) to shame.

Danny Boyle really should be credited with making an outstanding piece of cinema. This is by far the best film I have seen this year and I can’t see anything coming close to beating it.


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Saturday, 14 July 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Another year and another Harry Potter film.

To be honest I’ve only seen all of previous films once (each in the cinema) and I haven't read any of the books. So you’ll get an idea of where I’m coming from, I’ve never really been a huge fan of the series but found each film fairly enjoyable to sit through. Though I was surprised at how much I enjoyed ‘Goblet of Fire,’ that was definitely the standout for me.

So with each film getting progressively better and darker, I was quite looking forward to this new instalment. The trailer after all made it look pretty impressive.

So how does this one stand up?

Well I’m going to say straight away I didn’t enjoy it as much as GOF. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very good and I found myself really getting into the last 20 minutes, I just didn’t think it was as exciting as the forth.

The film focuses very much on Harry (as opposed to the regular trio), if he’s not in a scene, it’s not in the film. I can imagine a lot was cut from the book and the film-makers decided to focus purely on his story. This puts all the other characters into the background, and they appear to have smaller supporting roles. Hermonie and Ron get a little bit left out; they’re in a lot of the film, but only if they’re standing next to Harry.

I suppose this is understandable it is Harry’s journey after all, but this time it’s much more a focus piece rather than an ensemble. It works for the story though, as after the death of Cedric in part 4, Harry is feeling very alone and this is conveyed effectively through the film.

All the cast and characters do a great job even if some are only in a couple of scenes; the acting (especially with the children) is getting better with each film.

The fight sequence at the end is definitely the highlight, a full-on wizard on wizard battle between groups of good and evil. This then leads into the climatic battle between Dumbledore and Voldermort, which again is top-notch (and is better than the wizard fights in LOTR). But it is a little annoying that Voldermort seems to appear at the end of each film, has a fight, leaves and then starts brewing his plan for next film. When will they stop him? Oh right, film seven.

Actually thinking back the ending was probably the only real action sequence in the whole film. There’s a little one at the start with two dementors in the real world, but it barely lasts two minutes. The flying sequence over London is also very impressive and seems even more special as we’re generally used to people flying over New York or LA. But it’s hardly an action sequence and is really just people travelling from A to B.

Despite the lack of action, the movie still moves at a brisk pace, I never found myself getting bored or feeling anything had been included unnecessarily.

There are some really cool establishing shots of Hogwarts, which reminded me of Lord of the Rings, which must be a combination of miniature and CGI work.

I especially liked the addition of Dolores Umbridge (played marvellously by Imelda Satunton), even if she is the most annoying person in the world. Her acting is stellar, and she is so believable in the role that every time she’s on screen I couldn’t help smiling as to how perfectly she plays the character. The sense of evilness that reeks from her, yet you can tell she believes she’s doing the right thing. Even when she tortures Harry by writing lines (that get inscribed in blood on his hand – cringe worthy), she still thinks it is for his own good.

Helen Boham Carter and Gary Oldman both put in excellent work again. That seems to be the great thing about these films, the cast is just perfect for roles (yes I know I haven’t read the books), but every character is believable, which in a world of such fantasy is important.

So top acting, great special effects and a story that moves at a brisk pace I really enjoyed this Harry Potter, just not as much as the last.


What about you? Any Harry Potter book fans like to share there views?

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Thursday, 12 July 2007

Die Hard 4.0 (Live Free or Die Hard)

“Yippee Kai Hey Mother F(Gunshot)ker!”

I read somewhere that whereas Die Hard 2 felt very much like a direct sequel to the original Die Hard, Die Hard 4.0 feels like a direct sequel to With A Vengeance. I couldn't agree more, even if there is a 12 year gap in between them, it still feels like a Die Hard film.

The character of John McClane has naturally progressed from WAV into 4.0. Maybe it was on purpose by the writers or the fact that the lower rating required it, but to me it just feels like the character has aged realistically (I know it's an action film, and character development might not be at the forefront, but the John McClane character is core to the success of this movie). In WAV McClane was verging on being an alcoholic, smoking 50 a day, hung over and pissed off, etc. It makes perfect sense that in the last twelve year, he's sobered up, he's stopped smoking, he's cleaned up his act, and yeah he doesn't swear as much, but he's now 52, he's no longer the cocky 30-something year old from the first 2 films or the grumpy alcoholic from the third. I think this is one of the things the film gets most right (and of course Mr. Willis), this is still John McClane, the same guy you remember, but he's matured and at different stage in his life. In the first film it was all new to McClane, so he was genuinely shocked and surprised and more expressive at the crazy shit unfolding around him. But after 20 years and 3 sets of adventures, he's a little more sub-dued to the fact people are trying to kill him "Wrong place, wrong time (again)". Again whether this was intentional on the part of writer or director is questionable, but it worked for me. I don't need him smoking and f-ing to enjoy the film as long as the film itself is good.

And it is! I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to end. No, it's no where near as good as the first, but it was never going to be. It is just about on par with the two sequels (but we’ll see how well it stands after multiple viewings), and definitely one of the best films to come out of this current crop of summer blockbusters (yeah I know that's not hard).

Now on to the specifics – what did I like?

The action sequences! Absolutely loved all of them, all of them are very well executed and edited. Each time director Len Wiseman ups the anti and tries to outdo the previous one, which I love, as then the climatic action sequence is actually the biggest. I don’t know why but a lot of recent blockbusters seem to put the most expensive sequences in the middle of the film, leaving the ending somewhat of let down.

Not so here.

The opening shoot-out in “The Kids” apartment, is complete with crawling on the floor whilst debris and gunfire erupts around them, blindly shooting around walls, never-ending amounts of clips to reload, it felt like a good old action shoot-out (akin to Lethal Weapon and guess what… Die Hard!) the sort of thing you and your mates use to re-enact around the house whilst your parents were out.

Then you can almost hear Wiseman shout “Okay, now I’m going to add a helicopter, speeding cars, blacked out tunnels and a pissed John McClane.”
This formula keeps building until by the end of the film, you’ve got 16 wheeler trucks facing off against Fighter jets with chunks of bypass exploding and smashing to the ground. Even though this was the most outlandish and cartoony of the action sequences, I still dug it. (Gravity can take a back-seat for 5 minutes).

The fight sequence between McClane and the sexy kung-fu chick Mai (Maggie Q) is pretty brutal. I mean they seriously kick the shit out of each other, no holds barred to the point where I was thinking, “Am I really cheering for a guy to beat the crap out of a girl?” Again, it is more comic-book violence than gritty realism and makes it easier to digest.

Considering the fuss the lower rating got, I think it mostly affects the language compared to the violence. Yeah, so you don’t always get huge splats of blood everywhere when people get shot, but a fair share of henchmen still get taken down (some very creatively), probably twice as many as in any of the other films. “Hey kids you’re not allowed to hear the word fuck, but you can watch as a man gets shot and falls through a fan grinding him into pieces.”

The thing that I was most worried about going into the film was the inclusion of giving McClane a wisecracking cyber geek sidekick. Yeah, it sort of worked in the third film, but that was Samuel Jackson! That man could hold is own against Willis and the partnership was very much equal.

Here we have Matt Farrell (Justin Long), and to be honest he fits into the movie fine. I didn’t mind his inclusion, and I was surprised at how many of his lines made me smile. He plays an integral part of story and without him, I don’t see how the story could have worked.

Then we have Lucy McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who isn’t necessarily needed, but it allows the stakes to become that little more personal to McClane. She does a decent job, and I fully believed she could be McClane’s daughter.

So what didn’t I like –

Well the thing that annoyed me the most, (but to be honest I can live with) is probably the audio dubbing of the film. Some times, it’s a little off, you can tell some of the dialogue has been changed in the editing department. Again I presume this was done for the child friendly rating, it’s just a little off putting when it’s blatantly obvious what you’re hearing isn’t what the actor on screen is saying.

That considered though, I thought the catch line “Yippe Kai Yay Mother Fucker!” was used fairly imaginatively and I didn’t mind that it was censored by the gun shot. It works in the context of the film.

The main baddie? Played by Timothy Olyphant, yeah I got to say I’m a little disappointed. He’s a fairly two-dimensional villain and for the majority of film just tries to stare scarily into the camera. He’s got a few lines that are kinda witty, but apart from that he doesn’t stand up to the Grueber brother’s from one and three.

The whole John McClane can fly a helicopter thing? That was a little crap and I wasn’t feeling it, but hey, it moved the plot forward.

Despite a few flaws, I still thoroughly enjoyed this film and there is loads of other little bits I wish I had time to write about. In a summer where every big movie sequel has been just "ok" this is the first to actually be "very good."


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Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Ocean's Thirteen

George Clooney, Brad Pitt and the rest of the modern day rat-pack return. (Again)

Here's an idea - we'll describe what we're going to do in the first 15 minutes, and then spend the next hour and 45 minutes doing exactly that, with no major twists or turns on the way. Oh and our motivation for doing all this? = Ego Trip.

Seriously, this has to be one of the oddest structures for a film ever.

What sort of film tells you the entire story (including the ending) at the start and then proceeds to act it out to a tee.

The greatest problem with this, is that it leaves no room for suspense, and to be honest no real reason to get into or follow the story because it's already been explained to you. Unlike in the first film, where you'd have the great "how we did it" reveal at the end and then all the pieces fall into place, and the audience has a sense of satisfaction of "oh, I get it now." This is more of a "how we'll do it" at the start, and then at the end "see I told you that's how we'd do it."

As it stands, the film is by no means bad, it's well acted, well directed, has high production values, the characters all have great chemistry, and the story flows at a brisk pace.

However, I just wasn't feeling it. I couldn't get behind Danny Ocean's motivation for this whole 'revenge heist' in the first place. Yeah, so a business deal went sour, and is friend suffered the equivalent of a stroke because of it. Business deals go wrong all the time! It's just the way the world is. Why not go after the cigar or whisky company, which probably contributed just as much to this stroke as well?

I do, however genuinely love the conversation between Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty (Pitt). They are most definately the highlight of the film for me. That and every wide shot of Al Pacino's hotel, considering it's not really there on the Las Vegas skyline it does look mighty impressive.

The fact that it is very much an ensemble piece, all the characters get there fair share of the limelight and director Steven Soderbergh handles all of their individual story strands with care.

It’s just a shame that I couldn’t get into it, due to the aforementioned intro and when the film does try to give you a little twist, you can see it coming a mile away. Maybe it’s because there’s already been two of these films, and I’ve become accustomed to the type of double-crosses that are almost definitely going to happen. It just doesn’t seem fresh anymore and there is never any doubt in your mind that they won’t pull it off.

So overall, the film was okay but I won’t be rushing to see it again, and can’t say I’m eagerly awaiting Ocean Fourteen.


What did you think?

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Monday, 9 July 2007

Shrek the Third

The wait is orge!

Yeah, great ‘original’ catch phrase I know. But hey that pretty much sums up Shrek The Third in a nutshell. It just doesn’t feel new or unique anymore. The first was a breath of fresh air and the second improved upon this adding sum extra characters like Puss in Boots. But three times?

Now it just feels like a bog standard run of the mill paint by numbers kids cartoon. There is nothing especially unique about its story or concept anymore. And this time it seems to be aimed much more at children, instead of having added extras for adults as well.

The humour included is quite different to the past films, gone are the pop references and sly nods. Here it’s all pretty straight forward ‘all been done before type of gags’ and unfortunately they’re so predictable, you know the punch line before it comes.

The animation is top-notch and definitely the highlight of the film. All the characters are highly detailed with incredible textures and the animated movement is nigh on perfect, which is probably why I enjoyed it. Being into CGI, the animation made up for the lack of original jokes and story.

Saying that the film is still easily watch-able and I didn’t ever find myself getting bored, but I’m not particularly in a hurry to see it again.


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Sunday, 8 July 2007

Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End

Good Luck Captain Jack!

The final (at the moment) part of the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ Trilogy sails into cinema screens this year and was it worth the wait? (Albeit being a very short one.)

Well let me first briefly explain my opinions of the first two films. I liked Curse of the Black Pearl quite a bit, it was a nice little film with some cool ideas and the highlight most definitely being Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow. But that was about it, it was just a film that was easy to watch. I didn’t geek out for it or anything like that.

Then along came ‘Dead Man’s Chest’ which I absolutely loved and went crazy for. I just adored every aspect of it; the amount of imagination and creativeness that had gone into this film blew my mind. Whether it be Davy Jones and his crew, the Kraken, the spectacular set pieces, the characters and there charisma, the set up for what could truly be an amazing story and all the other little details that were hidden away. It was a marvel to behold, not only was it jaw-dropping to look at, it had created a huge world that I wanted to explore further. It was easily my favourite film of 2006. It even made me enjoy COTBP much more when I re-watched it.

So combined with Spider-man 3, this was my most highly anticipated film of 2007. What did I think?

I’ve got to be honest, I was disappointed. Instead of coming out of the cinema all excited and amazed screaming “I can’t wait to see that again!” (As I had with DMC) it was just ok. By no means bad, just not particularly awesome either.

To me it looked like they’d put all the creativeness and imagination of crazy set-pieces and humour into DMC, and AWE was left with lots of dialogue and bogged down “story”.

The fact that this is the 2nd half of one story also means the film has lost the initial wow-factor that DMC had. Don’t get me wrong Davey Jones is a technical master-piece, I didn’t even think of him as a CGI character, he was just another member of the cast. But again that’s part of the problem, I was no longer awe-struck by him, he’s just another person talking. And that’s all that really happens for the first two hours – people discuss things.

You have minor blips of action, but they are all relatively short compared to the amount of standing around that’s done before and after them. The only big sequence in the first 2 hours is near the beginning at Singapore. But this is not anything new or unique, it’s just a set being blown up whilst people run around.

Apart from Davey Jones and his crew (oh and some crabs), the CGI budget has all been saved for the last half-hour.

As well as having a lot less action, this film is also a lot darker in tone and therefore a lot of the humour is toned down as well, it’s all much more subtle.

In addition, some people saying that the story is really complicated and hard to understand - it isn’t at all. It is made hard to follow due to all the characters double crossing each other and speaking a lot, but the actual story itself is pretty straightforward.

First act – Save Jack from Davey Jones Locker.
Second act – Prepare for battle against East Indian Trading Co.
Third act – Fight between Pirate Lords and EIT Co.

Yes, other things are going on, but it mainly involves people talking about or bargaining on how to get to these key plot points. Some of the double-cross’s are quite amusing to follow though.

The thing that is strange and a huge let down, is that they spend so much time building up to a climatic finale that then goes nowhere.

They speak endlessly about releasing Calypso and what would happen if they do, and then when they do she just runs away never to be seen again.

Also the end battle looks like it’s going to be incredible with all the Pirate Lords lined up to face the entire fleet of the EIT Co, and then it turns into a one on one battle between the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman, whilst everyone else watches.

This battle is amazing and is by far the highlight of the film, (as they wash around a huge whirl-pool blasting cannon at each other) and as CG special effects go it’s phenomenal, but it just happens. They haven’t spent two hours building up towards this moment, the Pirate Lords don’t need to be there, the EIT Co doesn’t need to be there, Calypso doesn’t need to have been released (it’s argued she starts the whirlpool, but you wouldn’t know because it’s not explained). It’s all wasted, as the Pearl and Dutchman could have had this fight at anytime during the film.

They do however tie up all the character storylines (well the one’s that are still alive) and for that it does have a clear ending to the trilogy. Though at the same time it has been left wide-open for a sequel.

Needless to say Johnny Depp is the stand-out again and all the scenes he is in are magnificent and fun to watch.

Overall a minor disappointment, no because it’s bad but for it could have been.


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Friday, 6 July 2007

Spider-man 3

So how badly was I waiting to see this movie? Literally since the summer of 2004 when Harry Osborne discovered the Goblin’s Lair and had the realisation that his late father was the Green Goblin at the end of Spider-man 2. I was screaming in my head “What?! No! Don’t end now! Great, now I have to wait years to see the story continue!”

I am a huge Spider-man fan; he’s my favourite super-hero (just marginally ahead of Batman) and I know most of the villains and all of their back stories. Although most of my knowledge comes from the 90’s animated series, which I use to watch religiously and in my opinion is the greatest cartoon of all time.

My favourite villain is Venom and I absolutely loved the 3-part story that was used for his creation in the animated series (which could be used as a step-by-step guide for one of the films). I’ve never been a huge fan of Sandman, but thought the CGI potential would be something to look forward to. I love the story of the Green Goblin, especially the transitions from father to son (but I wasn’t a huge fan of his costume in Spidey 1), but from the movie universe I was really interested to see how it was going to be handled in part 3.

When it was announced that these three villains were going to be in the movie I was very sceptical. Yeah, Harry as the Green Goblin was a definite, he had to be in this one. I can understand the thought behind adding a second villain to fill up the story and give the fans something new, so Sandman would be a pretty good fit. But a third? That just seemed too much! Especially using Venom as some tag along villain.

In my mind the black-suit and the Venom saga deserve it’s own movie. As much as I want to see Venom on the big screen, I’d gladly wait until Spider-man 4 so he gets the care and intention required.

Of course at the same time I’m thinking “this is the same cast and crew who have made the first two, so maybe they’ll pull it off”.

So with all this in mind, knowing how much story they had to fit into a 2hour film (in my mind it had to be at least 3 hours to do all the characters justice). I went in fingers firmly crossed and whispering to myself as the credits rolled “Please be good. Please be good…”


Well what can I say? What a mess. This is a completely different kind of film to the second, it’s schizophrenic in it’s gear changes, it’s pacing is all off, nothing flows, some scenes are truly magnificent and then others are downright awful. What the hell happened?!?!

When I came out, I was filled with completely mixed emotions. For everything I loved, there was something I absolutely hated or smelt bitterly of wasted opportunities. I really felt like giving it 5/10 considering half of it was genuinely good, yet the other half was just plain bad. It’s almost impossible to write about it cohesively, because it just shoots off all over the place.

For example, I loved the opening fight sequence between Harry and Peter, the imagination, choreography and effort that went into this is outstanding. Yet it just happens, no build up, no tension, nothing. Peter’s riding his moped down the street, then BAM we’re in a middle of a huge action set piece above the New York sky scrappers.

Really, would it have killed the film makers to add 30 seconds of Harry sneaking up behind Peter, or have his spider-sense tingling for a few seconds. The problem is, this sort of stuff plagues the entire movie. Especially the end, the four on four battle itself is immense, but for christ sake a news report introduces it!?!? Then a newsreader narrates it? What the hell?!

Seriously, this film is crazy. There are individual scenes that are amazing, but in the context and flow of the film they’re out of place. Think of a puzzle where individual pieces are full of detail and quality but they just don’t fit together to make a finished picture. It’s like watching a 2hour extended trailer, scenes must have been cut or shortened left, right and centre.

The best thing I can do is bullet point what I liked and what I hated (not it any particular order). It’s quite literally the only way I can think of getting all my thoughts down about this film. (Btw I love spider-man so there’s going to be a lot!)

Here goes: -

1 - The birth of Sandman, absolutely beautiful and by far my favourite scene in the whole film. The music, the atmosphere, the special effects, everything works perfectly to capture a man rebuilding himself (quite literally in this case).

2 - Topher Grace as Eddie Brock (what an excellent piece of casting), he plays him as a cocky know-it-all smart-ass. Maybe not the same as the character in the comics but as an opposite to Peter Parker (which I think the film-makers intended) it works perfectly for the film. I laughed at his lines, and couldn’t help but identifying with him more than I could with Peter at some points.

He is severely under used though, I wish we’d spent more time with him and that the competitive-ness between him and Peter was developed further. If he was the only villain this could have been done a lot easier.

3 - Dark Peter. I loved the scenes where Peter was wearing the black suit and acting like a complete asshole (you can see Tobey Maguire is loving it too). But to me his transformation happens too quickly, it should have been a gradual descent into darkness throughout the film. But here it’s literally; suit on = Peter’s bad. Suit off = Peter’s good.

It’s pretty off putting, the first time he puts on the suit, he walks past a mirror, combs his hair forward and now he’s bad. But once he is acting on his dark side, it’s funny and interesting to watch, you just have to ignore that he got there so fast.

Like with so much of this film, it’s good when you get there, it’s just how they got there that leaves a little to be desired.

4 – Jonah Jameson = comic genius. Nothing else to say, every scene he’s in is hilarious.

5 - The Restaurant scene. I loved this for so many reasons – Bruce Campbell as the French waiter, classic. The uncomfortable atmosphere once Gwen Stacy introduces herself to Peter and MJ, for me it’s probably the most identifiable scene in the film. “You’ve never mentioned her before?” “Yeah, about that…” Everything for 3 minutes is perfect. Comedy and drama in a bag baby.

6 - The way Sandman and Venom meet. What the hell kinda bollocks-ass screen writing is that?! It is appalling and is down-right the worst scene of the film. They ‘bump’ into each other by pure coincidence!?!?

“Hey I hate Spider-man and so do you. Wanna join forces?” “Um, Ok.”

Seriously, I almost walked out of the cinema I was so infuriated. I had to hit myself to make sure I didn’t just dream seeing that crap! This film is made by real people right? You’re telling me that a group of people sat around a table, discussed it and agreed that this was a good scene?! Who even writes that into a script? Of all the ways they could have met!


7 – The second thing I hate is how the ending is set up. A news report? “Okay, so we have to get Spider-man, Venom, Green-Goblin and Sandman all together for the climatic show-down. How are we going to do this? I know! We’ll announce it on the news and then just sit back and press play.”

What. The. Hell?

And then when the scene finally gets started and you start getting back into it, it’s narrated by the most annoying news reporter in the entire world (complete with the worst English accent I have ever heard). Shut the hell up! I know what’s going on, I’m watching the same film!

8 – The black suit. Well based on the trailers, the posters and the marketing campaign you’d think it was in the film for a fairly long time wouldn’t you? Try 5 minutes of actual black suited spider-man screen time.

It lingers in his room for the first half, attaches itself to Peter and we get our ‘ONE’ sequence of spidey in action with it and then it’s either locked up or under Peter’s clothes. I smell ‘wasted opportunity.’

The way Peter even comes into contact with it is ridiculous. Peter and MJ are in a park and a meteorite just happens to land next to them?! Right… And they don’t even notice? Okay…

When Peter realises he has to get the suit off and that it’s turning him bad he’s only wearing half of it (no mask and no gloves). Yet he then decides to put them back on and then struggles to get it off in a bell tower. Why? Oh because it’s a homage to the comics.

No you idiots! In the comics he went to the bell tower because he knew the suit was sensitive to the sonic sound waves of the bell clanging. Here it’s just coincidence he goes there and makes the realisation later on. There’s also no suggestion that the suit is attaching itself to Peter, because before the bell scene he has been able to take it on and off as he pleases. The script makes up the rules as it goes along.

9 – I really liked the introduction, with CG webbing and a recap of the previous 2 films, thought this worked really well, created a cool bit of style and set-up the film nicely.

10 – The action sequences are amazing (despite of how some of them just start out of the blue), whilst they’re running they were all creative and the majority of the special effects were top notch. There isn’t really any small sequences in this film of say spidey just nabbing a bank robber or something like that. They all link into the plot and generally involve a large set-piece.

11 – The first two films felt like cohesive movies that had a focus and a core story to tell. This one feels like a bunch of people sat in a room, everyone chucked in a suggestion about what villains they wanted, what new characters they wanted to see, what action sequences should be included, and then they employed someone to write a script to join the dots together.

12 – The fight between Harry and (dark) Peter is brilliant. Despite both of them being superheros the fight is very brutal and has a down ‘n’ dirty feel to it as they smash each other through the furniture. Also I loved the way they tease each other “Arr what’s the matter? Is Goblin junior going to cry?”

13 – Venom was wasted plain and simple. There is no two ways about it, Avi Arad got him included for the fans and Sam Raimi obviously didn’t want him there. So they tacked Eddie into a couple of scenes and then transformed him into Venom so he could be in a fight scene at the end. The fact that they then kill him is just more salt in the wound as you know he’s never going to be in another film and potentially used properly.

They seem to have no grasp of the character or any development of the symbiote taking Eddie over. No “we” instead of “I.” Nothing. As much as I wanted to see him in a movie, I would have preferred they left him out of this one.

I really like the design of him though, with all the twisted webbing wrapped around his body and some of the things he says are kinda funny like his little tease to Peter “Oooh, my spider-sense is tingling.” But for the few things they got right, there’s a lot more they got wrong.

To me it would be like making a Batman movie, having a couple of minor villains in the whole film, then adding the Joker for the last 15 minutes and then killing him. It just wouldn’t happen, so why they did it here I don’t know.

14 – The dance scene? That’s pretty crazy and out of place in my book. I love the idea of taking your new date to the place where your ex-girlfriend works, (just to rub it in) and it really demonstrates how the black suit is changing Peter. But for him to then get up and dance just ruins it for me.

15 – Why use MJ in the final scene? There is no indication what-so-ever that Eddie Brock knows that MJ means a lot to Peter. Or how the hell does he know where she lives?!

In my book they should have used Gwen Stacy, Brock’s pissed off that she dumped him and then saw her on a date with Peter, in my mind he’d go after her. Then you could also have the added turmoil of Peter fighting for another girl, whilst MJ watched on worried for his life but also slightly jealous.

16 – The whole “Sandman actually killed Uncle Ben”. This didn’t bother me too much as it did add to the story they were telling (despite being different to the cartoon), gave Peter some extra motivation and helped his descent into darkness.

17 - I can’t help but think this film is just way too over-crowed, from characters to plots points, there is enough material here to flesh out at least 2 movies.

Even if they wanted to tell essentially the same story I wish they’d split the film in two, so we could have say the blacksuit and sand-man in the first part and then have the second half deal with Harry and Venom.

How cool would it have been to end with Spider-man getting the black-suit off and Venom being born. Harry making a gradual change throughout the film and then finally becoming the Green Goblin at the end. Just to be left with a “to be continued” That would have kicked ass. Instead it all just gets chucked into one and spat out as muddled movie and left with thoughts of what could have been…

I could say more but I think you get the idea of what a complete mixed bag of a film this is.

I have however seen it 3 times and have never got bored whilst watching it (it is a pure pop-corn flick), but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good film either.


(Oh and just so you know I’d would give the other two films both 9/10.)
Any thoughts?

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