Category Archives: Films

The Force Awakens (contains spoilers)

If you’re reading this and you haven’t watched the film yet, stop and go watch it. I’ll wait. No really, go watch it. I’m not going to hold back under here, I’m still buzzing after seeing it and I don’t want to miss things by trying to avoid spoilers.

Also, I’m placing it behind a cut, so don’t read it unless you really want to…

Continue reading The Force Awakens (contains spoilers)

Fantastic 4

So I saw the Fantastic 4 reboot on Tuesday and it was… not good. It had potential, but they scuppered it and it finished unsatisfyingly.

A brief breakdown of the film (contains spoilers):

  • The Set-up: Reed Richards is established as a child genius working with his best friend Ben Grimm to build a teleporter out of scrap junk and N64s. They present the upgraded version at a school fair, where they meet Franklin Storm who invites Reed to join the Baxter Foundation where he meets Sue Storm, Victor Von Doom, and Jonny Storm.
  • Reed, Victor, Jonny, and Sue work together to build the real prototype dimensional shuttle. When they finish it, they do a test with a living subject (chimpanzee), and the Foundation board decides to get NASA involved from here on out.
  • Victor, Reed, and Jonny get drunk and decide to go across on their own and be the first dimensional travellers. They pull Ben in as well and the four of them cross over to the other dimension. Things go wrong, they get blasted with alien energy, Victor gets left behind, and Sue has to manually initiate the return from Earth. The shockwave of the return destroys the equipment and transfers energy to Sue.
  • The military takes over, taking everyone into custody for study. Over time they develop suits that allow Sue and Jonny to control their powers. Reed escapes the facility and works on his own to try and find a cure for their afflictions.
  • The military captures Reed, brings him in to finish their new quantum gate, and send a team to the other dimension where they find Victor – still alive.
  • They bring Victor back where he promptly kills everyone he meets and goes back to the other dimension, opening a large gate that starts sucking everything through – with the aim of destroying Earth.
  • Reed, Sue, Jonny, and Ben go through the gate, avoiding the matter-to-energy conversion field and start fighting Victor. They get their asses handed to them.
  • Reed noticed they can’t beat him on their own and suggests they work together. Instant change in results, and they send Victor into the energy stream and destroy the gate, presumably killing him before returning to Earth.
  • Having saved the world, they then blackmail the military into giving them a private facility in the mountains.

So. It built up pretty well, and had me asking good questions – it had me interested in the film – pretty much right up until after the “one year later” part. After that, things went downhill. Sue found Reed effortlessly, Ben took Reed down effortlessly, Reed fixed the quantum gate project effortlessly, the Four took down Doom effortlessly once they started working together, the Four effortlessly got the military to cave to their demands. It just lost all sense of dramatic tension.

I mean, sure, the good guys are always going to win, but they don’t have to win so easily. It wasn’t good storytelling, and it was a poor show all round. No one left that cinema excited, no one was eager to see if there were post-credits scenes (there weren’t any – just a message about how the film secured 15,000 jobs and took over 100,000 hours to make), and there were cries of dismay as people started shuffling out.

My recommendation? Don’t spend any money on it, and don’t feel any need to see it.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World

Last night, I went to see Jurassic World because I was in town and there was a showing still on and I really wanted to see it. I was not disappointed. There’s a bunch of moments that stuck out at me and I had a lot of fun.

So, in no particular order:

  • Lowery (Jake M Johnson) having a Jurassic Park t-shirt. Not only because it’s really cool, but because it foreshadowed the entire movie.[1]
  • The original John Williams sequence being used to accentuate both the glorious and creepy moments including the flyover of the new park, and the kids entering the old one. It was really great to pick out the theme and it accentuated things in entirely the right way while being part of an original soundtrack.
  • The old park. I loved watching that and seeing the kids explore the old park set. Especially how the raptor painting looked like it was going to jump out of the wall.
  • Jimmy Fallon doing the safety intro for the gyrosphere.
  • The hedging and hawing about what went into the Indominus Rex from Dr Henry Wu
  • Military applications for raptors. Have these people not been listening to Randall Munroe’s warnings?[2]
  • Indominus Rex’s genetics revealed. No really, have InGen not been listening to the warnings?
  • Kids being cleverer than the adults, getting a car sorted and getting out of dodge while the adults become the new prey.[3]

See also: Howard Tayler’s review of Jurassic World

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. “Sure, they ended in disaster…”
2. xkcd – prophet of the raptor apocalypse
3. Kids being cleverer than the adults seeming to be a common theme in Jurassic films

The ponytail equation

I was doing some hairstyle research[1][4] and I discovered the ponytail equation. I couldn’t actually believe this was real. I thought it must be an April Fools that got into a Wikipedia article. Then I realised that I’d seen some of it before.

It’s the phrase “Rapunzel number” that causes familiarity. I’ve heard it used before, and that triggered a vague memory of previously discovering hair equations – possibly even this one. It still seems a little ridiculous, but there are people who have calculated stranger things (I mean, have you seen some of the stuff Randall Munroe gets asked to figured out?[2]). Actually, it’s entirely possible that it was something Randall Munroe wrote that caused the Rapunzel number to come to my attention, or it might just be the massive news coverage it seemed to generate in 2012, or it could be one of the times I’ve found interest in a video talking about how they do CGI hair (the Monsters Inc CG team put a lot of work into making Sully look like he had real fur – it was a massive leap in the technology at the time[3]).

Anyway, I just thought that the idea of a ponytail equation was a bit ridiculous and thought I would share it, even though I can massively appreciate the advantages such an equation can bring to the CG world.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I wanted to make sure the hairstyle I was mocking was indeed a reverse mullet. References disagree on how a reverse mullet should look, so I’m not actually sure. It was basically something like an undercut ponytail – long hair along the top gathered at the back into a ponytail with a short back and sides underneath. I do not understand why anyone would want this style unless it’s something like how you keep a devilock out of the way when you don’t want a devilock, but he didn’t look like the type to have a devilock so…
2. what if? by xkcd
3. VentureBeat article on Sully’s hair in Monsters University
4. I did a lot of hair research… considering I didn’t really intend to do any.

Kingsman – The Secret Service

I’ve been to see this twice now, and I can still say that I love it. Especially with some of the callbacks to the original comic in there[1].

The gadgets are awesome, the slowed-down epic combat scenes worked brilliantly, and I loved the “Manners, Maketh, Man” scenes.

Was it fantastic in its portrayal of female characters? Not hugely. Was it a send-up of the classic spy movie? Yes, yes it was. The fact that they had a female agent candidate who not only had no romantic interest in the protagonist, but passed the training where the male protagonist didn’t was a firm point against a male bias (even though I freely admit the film had a male bias, as the original comics likely did).

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. the role Mark Hamill was playing was called Mark Hamill in the comics

Resident Evil: Retribution

So, I thought it was interesting that the synopsis for Resident Evil: Retribution on Amazon Prime was “A sequel to Resident Evil: Afterlife (3D).”

That was it.

Turns out, I couldn’t really have explained it any better myself. It’s not really a film in its own right – it wouldn’t make any sense unless you’ve seen the others, and even then…

So. That was how I killed my evening.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

So I read two of the books. Then saw the film. That may have been a mistake.

The film does bear a resemblance to the book, but it may well be easier listing what they got right than what they got wrong (Most of the first third was accurate enough). Went to see it with Ailsa, Tara and Suzanne, and Ailsa was immensely unimpressed – but she’s geeking out massively about it; it’s entertaining to watch.

The film was enjoyable, but it doesn’t follow the book plot except in the vaguest sense. They reveal things from the second and third books, and added whole new parts cut whole cloth that weren’t even in the book, as well as redeeming one of the villains.

Still, it wasn’t a bad film – it just wasn’t the book. It’s likely going to be the next Twilight in terms of films (and audience), but has several things up on Twilight. For a start, the main character is actually pretty badass and doesn’t just wilt in the presence of danger and wait for her hero to rescue her. And vampires are mean, like they should be (as well as being beautiful creatures of the night).

I would probably recommend not seeing it with a bunch of impressionable teenage girls – they may shriek at the sight of Jace being badass.

Kick-Ass 2

Otherwise known as “Ass-Kick” or “The Ass-Kicker”. You’ll get it if you’ve seen it.

Went to see it with Sam, Andy, Andy and … I forget. It was a good film, I was entertained and I had quite a lot of fun, though I didn’t manage to see Luke in the big fight scene (I assume he was masked). It was hugely predictable, but that doesn’t matter – not when it’s done well.

There was character growth, and idiocy, and some really dodgy name choices on the part of the bad guys. I mean… yeh…

I don’t really have a lot to say about it, apart from apparently there was something after the credits and I missed it… Argh!

Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth

Not really a film, but I saw it in the cinema (a while ago), so it’s like a film. Me and Sarah saw a live broadcast of the performance at the Manchester International Festival from the comfort of our local Cineworld.

Though having seen it, being there might be worth the trek to Manchester. It’s in a converted (and de-consecrated) church, with stalls for the audience running down the length of the church with gaps for the performers. Backstage for this performance is more “behind-the-audience” for the most part, it seems. The central floor is mud and earth and the performance began with rain pouring down over the combatants as they fought in the mud for the glory of Scotland.

The witches were a stunning performance, and I especially liked the demon ritual they did – have to use that for something else.  Ray Fearon’s performance as Macduff stole the show, and you really felt the emotion pouring from him in his soliloquy.

It was a breathtaking performance, full of energy and tension. I heartily recommend anyone see if they get the opportunity. It’s still being screened in some cinemas.

Pacific Rim and Arya

Today, I skipped out on going to the Glasgow Isles of Darkness games to spend the afternoon with Hanna and Arya, who were up visiting. It’s the second time I’ve been around Arya, and the first time I’ve actually spent any time with her, and she is adorable. We had a dance around Cosmos while Hanna got some food and she was an absolute darling.

Well, up until we got into the cinema. We went to see Pacific Rim and Arya objected to this idea not long after it started. Since she wouldn’t quieten down, Hanna took her out, but insisted I stay to watch the film. And it was a good film. I want to see it in IMAX 3D now – just to watch it be even more epic. Yes, the plot is a little straightforward and cliché, but what did you expect from a film that essentially revolves around giant robots fighting giant monsters?

And in the immortal words of the Megas XLR theme: “Who digs giant robots? I dig giant robots! We dig giant robots! Chicks dig giant robots! Nice.”