Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Big monsters? Yes. Boring miserable characters? NO.

Let me just start, for those that don't know the United States DVD release of Ten Dead Men, the film Brother Chris happened to write one day, was today. Yay. Go and buy it, if you can, here.

Now to the point, I'm supposed to be working on something else, but I only really get stuff done at weekends. So I just watched Jack Brooks - Monster Slayer. It's alright, not that great. Far too much time is spent setting up the monster, and the fact that he's a "monster slayer" he doesn't get slaying until about 15 minutes from the end. So yeah, it could have been a lot better, but was kind of what I was expecting.

What bothers me though is that the people behind the film mention that they grew up on '80s horror, the link with this post's title. Yes there were many a horror film in the 80's but Evil Dead this is not. The Thing this is not. It's not the first time this reference has been made. There was a film out last year called Hatchet. It was supposed to start a new franchise so had a new slasher guy in. But it wasn't very good. And had a weird featurette about how it was made because the directer wanted to see Twisted Sister and then he befriended vocalist Dee Snider and they saved each other from cancer or something, and that made him make Hatchet, cause he was inspired by 80's horror films. But again, effects aside, that film was boring and the characters weak.

Now I know lots and lots of films get made, and there were a fair share of bad 80's horror. (The Lamp springs to mind) but why would you want to recreate those. You can have your gory effects, fair enough, but gory effects does not a great movie make. Throw in a fun character, a cool character, any kind of character, just not your token run of the mill, characters.

Jack Brooks fails because, as mentioned, it takes too long to set up. Yes we realise he gets angry, and from then on you work out he can fight monsters to "relax", so why spend an hour getting there. It should go more like: Jack gets angry. Oh Shit, monsters have come. Jack can fight monsters because he's angry. Jack has now become monster slayer, much slaying and wise cracking later Jack wins, film ends.

Instead it was more like: Jack gets angry.......he's a plumber.....an angry plumber......why's he learning science at night school.....chekovs gun......he's angry.....monster brewing.........he's still angry........comedy Englund...........angry......Englund.......angry......Englund.....Monster.....Angry...Fight..End.

And I sped up the Robert Englund comedy for you as well.

Cool seems to be lost on films these days. I finally got some feedback today for a script I wrote. They said the end was cheesy. I always thought it was cool. "I'd like to see that in a film" I thought. If Jack Brooks is what passes as cool today. I think I'll stick to cheesy thanks. It's more fun.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Valkyrie, Valkarar,Valkyrie, Valkara-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

Not that is was funny. Ok so I saw Valkyrie. Its not the greatest. At first I wasn't really that bothered, then Brother Chris highlighted the fact that Usual Suspects' Christopher McQuarrie wrote it so I was intrigued. Unfortunately, Brian Singer has lost it a bit I think. Overall it was a bit like watching a history video. Knowing nothing of the attempts on Hitlers life I have nothing to go on as to how much was made up. However, if even a fraction was made up, then they should have taken advantage and gone with it. Example, there's a section where Tom Cruise has to go and get an extra man to help out, obviously I'm paraphrasing and making it sounds slightly less interesting. Anyway, this extra man is attracted in an interesting fashion but it made me think that he could have made it like Magnificent Seven or Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise having to go an recruit these "traitors". And then have Willie carry the bags.

As it ends up, as mentioned, there's no real visual flair. The script is pretty good, and the acting is good in theory (more on that in a bit). But having a look at Christopher Mcquarrie's IMDB page, he hasn't done anything of his own for the last 8 years or so. The last thing he was credited for was Way of the Gun, and I wasn't a fan. Unfairly, I was comparing it to Usual Suspects a lot, not wholly my fault as this has been a major marketing factor.

So back to the acting, the German language is abandoned early on in a nice transition, however, then each actor speaks in with different accent. Tom Cruise is his usual American, the majority of the English cast use slightly posher accents, with the exception of Terence Stamp, who, as ever, seems to just be playing himself once again. Then on the other side you have Thomas Kretschmann with a German accent, and a few others with German accents. With no clear language flowing through the film you feel each character needs their own German to English transitional segment.

Overall, the film could've been better. I think, and I'm not sure if this is credible, it does show how loony Hitler and his followers really were. (A link to Scientology springs to mind). There is a scene with Hitler and his henchmen sitting in a circle like some kind of Evil League of Evil, each with their own special characteristic. Look out for the toys in shops soon. It also loses a lot of clarity when the good Germans start taking over, it all seems pretty easy, especially as they're following a guy with one eye, one hand adn only three finger left on the other. You can't really see how Germany nearly took over Europe. They were all mental.

Well, maybe not.

I'm trying but there doesn't seem to be anything better than Congo lately.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Thought I'd best write something...

I haven't given up on this yet, but I am finding it less and less important on my pretty empty schedule of things to do. The reason I guess this is is plainly I 'm not up to much yet. Well, I am, but as Chris and I have previously mentioned I can't really talk about anything "in progress". This mainly boils down to things falling through. If everything I did had a definite outcome then this blog would be full. As it happens, only a small percentage of the stuff that comes out of my brain ever ends up on some kind of paper or written word, and even less ends up as "something".

So other things...other things to talk about. All I can think at this moment is I just watched The Contractor with Wesley Snipes. Not literally with Wesley Snipes, he was just in it. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good either. There's a problem with the middle TV budget films where nothing much happens, then you get a flash of coolness and its gone, well, in a flash. It mostly comprised of Mr Snipes sitting around a run down flat with a street wise school girl helping him out. Actually it wasn't very good, apart from the odd flash. I'm also finding it difficult understanding Lena Headey, who was English in this, being set in London and all. Since she become Sarah Connor Chronicles in America, I'm used to her as an American. A similar thing happened with Christian Bale until he turned his back on every known accent and created his own.

So the channel 5 film continues fuelling the careers of the fading action hero. Especially as there's another random Van Damme film on next week, The Hard Corps, although his drug taking, Stephen Rea co-starring effort, Until Death, was well pants. I don't quite know what I'm expecting from these films as the results all tend to leave me feeling disappointed. Anyway I shall be watching.

To end on a lighter note, I'm look ing forward to Sylverster Stallones The Expendables, starring Jason Statham, Jet Li, Mickey Rourke, Dolph Lundgren and Sir Ben Kingsley. Theres no way this is going to be anything other than a 80's style action flick. And after the blood shed seen in Rambo, I'm hoping this film wont disappoint.

Maybe next time I'll have something productive to report. We can but hope.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Dragging up the past...Trailer Style.

So I shouldn't really be posting now. I'm in the middle of a Batman Begins/Dark Knight double bill and paused briefly, but a promise I did make to Brother Chris. When we were young, we had a tape collecting a variety of trailers from the videos we rented. I can't remember why, but obviously is the reason I still like watching the trailers at the cinema. On this tape was a strange selection ranging from Ghostbusters II to King of the Kickboxers. I did go a bit mental and bought some of the ex-rental bix boxed VHS years later, only to discover in most cases the trailers were better. One of these films was WhyMe? based on the book by, and written by the late Donald E Westlake. This came up in conversation because of his recent death and Chris asked me to find it, so here we go.

Below you'll find this trailer and a selection of other hits from the trailer tape.

Why Me?

Puppet Master 2

The Time Guardian

The Ambulance

This trailer, on the tape at least, had the best tag line but doesn't seem to feature online. It went like this, "The Ambulance. If you call for help, you're dead!"

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Dentists and Nazis...

The first film I've seen at the cinema in 2009 was The Spirit - pause for reaction. I have mixed feelings about this film, in many ways I enjoyed it, but in many other ways it falss short. I shall explain.

Frank Miller has recreated, more or less, the look of his previous co-directed effort Sin City, however I'm not so sure this is the look for The Spirit. I haven't read many of the original Spirit comics but from what I have read, including the new run currently ongoing, surely a brighter style would have been more fitting. This ties in nicely with my confused opinion. The Spirit tries to be both a goofy, comic movie; but also a straight noir-ish crime movie. And these kind of don't mesh together. If a little more time was taken over the script I've no doubt The Spirit would become a great movie. Instead it will probably be forgotten. I could see the film working in comic form both in style and structure. The Spirit did tend to talk aloud a lot, or to the audience, or to a stray cat, but never to his sidekick who had obviously never been included in the film.

Its just the real life problems of The Spirit did not mix with the Adam West's Batman campness. Which, as I've said is the only problem. The film either should have been straight cut noir, or 60s camp. Now as I previously mentioned, I haven't read enough of the history, but then again, for this character to appeal to a mainstream audience, you can't rely too heavily on a history the audience today know nothing about.

As far as the cast, all performed their roles well. Gabrial Macht as The Spirit was excellent, Samuel L Jackson was pretty much the same as he always is, just a little more nusto, but well balanced with Scarlett Johansson as straight talking scientist Silken Floss.

I did enjoy a lot in this film. The look was cool, some of the gags were funny and the story is pure comic book. It just needed a little tightening up a little. Now I know this will not be a shared opinion. The characters were a little one dimensional, and it is a little chauvinistic, but that all kind of works on the campness side. I think I've said that too much.

So in review, don't go to see it thinking it's the next Sin City. Don't go in thinking too much about it at all really. Watch it at face value, as entertainment.