Cool As Ice Solo Video Review: Part 3 by Jamie
25/03/2009, 11:15 am
Filed under: Cool As Ice Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Finally! Part 3 is here and I spend a little too much time on a minor montage sequence…

Top Ten Podcasts by Jamie
14/03/2009, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, I decided it’s time for something a bit different today. I just can’t be bothered to watch a movie today, especially considering Battlestar Galactica Season 1 just came through the door. Awesome. So, while I work my way through that I’ve decided to do something which ties into movies tangentially, because most of them are about movies. Yes, podcasts have revolutionised the way I, at least, entertain myself. It’s because of them, perhaps, that I need to be entertained at all times. If nothing’s happening my brain feels like it’s starting to fade until I can find something to occupy myself with.

So here is a list of my ten favourite podcasts. If you have iTunes, and honestly who doesn’t these days, I order you to download them immediately.

10. Remember When

Hosted by Parris and Jay, Remember When is an erratically updated pod cast taking a look back at the entertainment of yesteryear. It’s a fun listen with segments like “Great Movies Jay Has Never Seen,” in which Parris has Jay watch a classic film he’s never seen before and then review it for the next weeks show. Generally it turns that Jay, much to Parris’s dismay doesn’t enjoy the film. It’s all good stuff. Especially worthy of note is their six episode specials regarding the Star Wars series.

9. The 10th Wonder Heroes Podcast

Ah, Heroes. It’s one of my favourite TV shows and so it’s only natural that a pod cast dedicated to it should appear on this list. Hosted by Graham Hancock and Derek Russell, the show is about everything Heroes and Heroes-related. There are generally two shows a week, one being a live recording directly after the show has played in the US, in which the pair give their reactions to the episode they have just watched and another later in the week which deals with all the news, spoilers and other such things that surround any major TV series. Don’t worry though, the spoilers happen at the end of the show and so can easily be ignored if you don’t want the show ruined for you.

8. Hometown Tales

I may be a sceptic but I still like hearing tales of the supernatural and Hometown Tales delivers that in a refreshingly level-headed manner. And what’s more is that the supernatural isn’t their main focus, they’re more concerned with tales of local legends, hence the name, and that can deal with anything from a local haunted house to a famous local sandwich. Brian and Gene cover it all in a straight forward yet often humorous way. In fact, this podcast is probably the first one I listened to and it’ll probably be on my ipod for as long as they decide to make episodes.

7. Filmspotting

Filmspotting, hosted by Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson, is a more cerebral approach to film than Cinepub can offer and it really is a quality film pod cast. There are usually at least a couple of reviews per episode and a Top 5 list, because, hey, if there’s one thing we geeks love it’s a list. I’ve never understood what mystical power a list holds over us but I certainly love them. Anyway, they also have other features such as marathons which is a multi-episode topic during which the hosts watch various films with a common theme and then review them. It’s really good for finding out about older films you’ve never heard of as well as some smaller indie films which might not get much press.

6.The Skeptics Guide To The Universe

Another stalwart of my ipod for as long as I can remember, the SGU promises to be your escape to reality and it delivers. It takes a scientifically sound yet also often humorous look at the ridiculous claims that people make throughout the week and reports and comments on them. The show, hosted by Steve Novella, Bob Novella, Jay Novella, Evan Bernstein and Rebecca Watson (And formerly by Perry DeAngelis until his tragic death in 2007), often has interviews with a variety of different sceptical personalities such as James Randi or Mythbusters’ own Adam Savage. The show also has a number of regular features such as ‘Science or Fiction’ in which Steve challenges the Skeptical rogues to guess which two news stories are true and which is fictional as well as the newest feature ‘Who’s That Noisy?’ In which the rogues challenge the listeners to guess who or what made the specially selected sound.

5. (Cool) Shite On The Tube

Cool Shite is awesome for a number of reasons. One is the sheer scope of their geekery. They review films, cartoon, television series and, more recently, sound tracks whilst also delivering at least one show a week dedicated to news and listener mail. The review shows generally focus on one topic which is discussed throughout the episode, though tangents are frequent, particularly at the opening of the show. At the end of the review, the subject is given a rating ranging from Shite minus all the way to Cool plus with Meh in the middle to denote something so unrelentingly bland that you can’t even say you hated it. Also they’re Australian and that’s fun. Good times.

4. Film Junk

Film Junk is hosted by Sean Dwyer, Jay Cheel and Greg Gaspari with occasional appearances from the Pilkington-esque Reed Farrington and is separated into many different segments normally beginning with a run down of the weeks news, followed by one or two reviews of current features and finishing with trailer trash, a look at recently released trailers. The whole show is hilarious and yet they still manage to keep on track most of the time and each episode is packed with a wealth of information. Also they’re Canadian and that’s fun. Good times.

3. Simply Syndicated

Simply Syndicated is a pod cast network with a myriad of shows such as The Definitive Word, …Or Do You Think That’s Just Bollocks and the flagship Movies You Should See. Simply Hear is all of their shows on one feed. I recommend it heartily as practically every show is worth a listen, even Make It So, the Star Trek show. Now, I’m not a major fan of Star Trek, only really liking the original series and some Next Generation, even when talking about later series Make It So is fun. Movies You Should See has really opened my eyes to some movies I otherwise wouldn’t heard of, including one of my personal favourites, Save The Green Planet. There are many hosts, as there are many shows but the one constant through most of them is Rich Smith, the Godfather of the Simply Syndicated universe and he is awesome. I salute him.

2. Smodcast

From the people that brought you Jay and Silent Bob and Zack and Miri comes Smodcast, a show hosted by Kevin Smith and (usually) Scott Mosier. There is no real fixed topic here, they generally just shoot the shit. Occasionally they’ll talk about the movie business but they’re just as likely to be talking about fisting dolphins and the still living decapitated heads of dogs. It’s all good fun and on occasion listening to it has caused me to burst out into laughter in public places. You have been warned.

1. The Bugle

The Bugles is the audio newspaper for a visual world hosted by Andy Zaltzman in London and John Oliver in New York. They cover the weeks news stories that most affect our great nations with tongues firmly in cheeks. Their own cheeks, not each others. I assume. There have been a number of features throughout the show’s history, most of which have since been discontinued, such as the Audio Cryptic Crossword during for which Andy would give one clue a week and, upon it’s completion John was heard to remark “I see the glorious history of the ‘Audio Cryptic Crossword’ as I see the glorious history of the Third Reich—a terrible idea that was rammed down peoples throats for far too long.”
There was also ‘Hotties From History’ during which listeners would send in suggestions for long dead people for inclusion in a pin up calendar including such suggestions as Joanna The Mad and the Toba eruption. When the feature finally came to an end, Andy and John began receiving (humorous) death threats. Ah, what fun. Seriously it’s a good show. Download it.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed that and maybe I helped you find something new to while away the pointless, pointless minutes, days and years leading up to the sweet release of death. Come back tomorrow for something hopefully a little more movie related. Laterz.

Audio Review: Watchmen by Jamie

Yes, just me reading out my review that I wrote for the Watchmen. Was just gonna leave this on YouTube but fuck it, might as well post it here as well.

Review: Watchmen by Jamie

Read a review once: Man goes to movie. Movie is Batman and Robin. Makes him depressed. Makes life seem harsh and cruel. Makes him feel alone in neon world where what lies ahead is bat-nipples and ice puns. Reviewer said “Treatment is simple. Great film Watchmen is in town tonight. Go and see it. That should pick you up.” Man looks confused. Says “But, reviewer… Who watches the Watchmen?” Bad joke. Everybody boo. Throw fruit on stage. Curtains.

I went into this film ready to hate it. I went there ready to be pissed off that there was no squid, pissed off that it wasn’t exactly like the graphic novel. So did I hate it? Was I pissed off? Well, the answer is no. In fact, I really, really enjoyed it. Is it as good as the graphic novel? Of course not. You’re talking about adapting something that could be around 6 hours long and making it palatable for an average movie going audience. I mean seriously, what film is better than the book that proceeded it? Jaws? Well, yeah, OK Jaws. But still most of the time the books are always better than the films, so why is it that the Watchmen film is getting such harsh treatment from film critics and embittered fan-boys alike? As far as adaptations go, this is one of the more faithful ones I’ve ever seen. Hell, Jaws was less faithful to it’s source material and did people complain about that? No, because Jaws can do no wrong! Hmmm, seem to keep getting sidetracked here.

My point is you have to learn to separate the artistic formats. One is a film, destined for mass production and produced by a mass of people. The other is a comic, also made for mass production but there’s a smaller number of people involved in it’s creation, in this case just four, writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, colourist John Higgins and editor Len Wein, though it could be argued that when it comes down to it this is really Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons baby. Anyway back to my point, a comic book can afford to be long. It can afford to explore certain things that a movie cannot because there’s no real restriction for how long it can last and, especially in the case of the Watchmen, there’s a much smaller creative team in charge of everything. A contained creative environment like this in which only a few people have to keep track of exactly what is going on can branch out into ways that a large production like a movie, with any changes having to be run by everyone, simply can’t afford to. Sacrifices have to be made. And in this case the sacrifices which didn’t seem to hurt the film at all. Sure, some people will say “Well then, if it couldn’t have been perfect the film shouldn’t have been made at all!” And you know what, person who says that, you’re a dick. The film has been made and you’re going to let your dogged loyalty to an item which is in no way effected by this movies existence blind you to the fact that it’s an entertaining film? Well, bully for you.

Now, is this film for everyone? Probably not. For the action seeker, there are some scenes of hyper-violent brawls but for the most part it’s a murder mystery that centres around the heroes thoughts and feelings rather than their ability to kick ass. I will say this though, I felt that the fighting scenes are among the weaker things in this film. The martial arts employed do look good and certainly wouldn’t be out of place in something like the Dark Knight but in a film about superheroes who are retired, for the most part, it just doesn’t seem right, especially from Night Owl II and The Comedian. It also seemed to me that it could give the impression that these people have super strength. It’d be understandable that they could be stronger than your average person but some of the stunts they pull here are perhaps just a bit too much.

So what about the characters? Are they well represented here? Well for the most part, I thought that the actors did a pretty good job. I’ve heard some complaints about Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II but I can’t really comment without seeing the film again. I guess that means her performance just kinda breezed by me which, I suppose, says something. Someone whose performance didn’t just breeze by me, however, was that of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the Comedian. He manages the difficult task of bringing a despicable character who you just can’t quite hate to the screen. When it comes to stealing the show, however, it’s Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach who really shines. He was my favourite character in the book and I’m glad that Haley really seemed to get him down. Even his voice was pretty much how I had heard Rorschach’s voice in my head when reading it. The fact that he was the only actor who’d read it before being cast probably really helped.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in terms of main characters was Dr. Manhattan, played by Billy Crudup. Not only do you have to create a glowing, blue god in image but you also have to give the impression that the character can see the past, present and future all at once and you have to convey the impression that he’s losing his touch with humanity. Overall, I don’t think I can fault Crudup’s performance. I think he managed to give Manhattan just the right amount of detachment without severing the link fully with his human past as was required. If I had to complain about anything with Dr. Manhattan, it’d be the effects used to bring him to life. There are times when the character touches another person, such as when shaking hands, that something about it just seems a little off, a little shaky. The same can be said when Manhattan is talking. There’s just something about the movement of his lips which just took me out of the movie a little. Then there is the issue of the good Doctor’s cock. Yes, I couldn’t go the whole review without mentioning it, so let’s just get it over with. The fact that Manhattan walks around so… freely, as it were, is just another way of showing his further detachment from human societal norms. However, I did feel that it was a little over used and sometimes just a little too lovingly animated. I didn’t really have a major problem with it but once more, it’s just something that can take you out of the movie a little.

Another thing which seems to have divided people about Watchmen is the choice of music. Now, I loved it, but then again I seemed to love every damn song that’s in that movie, even ‘99 Luftballons’, so I may be just a little biased. Still whatever you feel about the music in this film, you must admit that the opening with Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ and the funeral scene with Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘The Sounds of Silence’ are awesome.

So that’s it for now. Hope to maybe do a group review of this in the pub at some point where we’ll go over a few more of the topics raised in criticism and praise of this film in a little more detail with a lot more booze. Until then, I’ll leave you with this: This movie could have been made by Fox. Have you seen the pictures of Deadpool from that Wolverine movie? Have you? What the fuck Fox?!? What the fuck have you done to my precious Merc With a Mouth?!? I curse and renounce you Fox and everything you stand for! Fuck you Fox! Fuck You! Ahem. Sorry about that. Laterz.

Review: Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis by Jamie
10/03/2009, 7:08 pm
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Anime and I have a long, complicated past. There have been times when I have been quite a fan and times when I don’t care for it all that much. Generally, the older I get, the more I seem to dislike the genre. I can still respect the classics but as for sitting down and watching an anime series, well that’s pretty much out of the question these days. But why? What is it that causes this ever growing dislike for Japanese animation? Well, I guess the most obvious thing that turns me against it is the pacing. It seems to me as though anime can go for a very long time without much happening. Now, when something actiony does happen it’s generally very well done but for some reason, down time in an anime seems to last a life time and the juxtaposition between the two is often quite jarring. Hell, this even affects such greats as Akira. Perhaps it’s not so much a criticism of the genre, maybe it’s my fault. Maybe not.

Another favourite to pick on when it comes to anime is the voice acting, but I’m not going to dwell on this too much. In my opinion it’s pretty much like anything else, you get the good and the bad. There is the extra problem of course of English voice actors having to cram or elongate a sentence to fit it into a characters open mouth which can sometimes lead to a somewhat stilted performance, especially with the insertion of English lines which seem to be irrelevant or overstate a point just because a characters mouth is moving, but I think you’ve got to cut them some slack there.

Sometimes however, it just gets it right, such as in this 2001 film inspired by Osamu Tezuka’s manga, Metropolis, a manga which I have never read. The central character of it is apparently based on a still from the 1927 movie of the same name, a movie which I have also not seen. This should be interesting. Spoilers ahead, bitches. Seriously, I can’t review this film with talking about, perhaps even showing the ending. It’s splendiferous.

Set in Metropolis, which looks like a 1930s American city but with robots and zeppelins, at a time when there is apparently conflict between robots and their human masters. Robots, it seems have progressed to a stage where there artificial intelligence is practically comparable to humans but they lack the same rights as humans, are forbidden to travel between the four zones that Metropolis is divided into and are forbidden from taking on human names.

The films opens with a city-wide celebration because the Ziggurat has been completed. Sweet, I’ve been looking forward to Ziggurat completion for some time! What? What’s the Ziggurat, you ask? Well, its… Well it’s not explained yet. But it’s complete so shut the fuck up and drink! Woo! Celebrate! The party is soon crashed, however, by a robot protestor who has left his assigned zone and, as such, is gunned down by the apparently twelve years old antagonist of the picture, Rock. We soon find out that Rock is a Marduk, an organisation designed to protect the citizens of Metropolis from law-breaking ’bots. He’s also the adopted son of Duke Red (though Duke really seems to hate the kid), the most influential citizen in all of Metropolis, designer of the Ziggurat and dude who really, really misses his dead daughter. So much so that he has commissioned a robot replica to be built.

Meanwhile, a Japanese detective by the name of Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive in Metropolis on the trail of alleged human organ trafficker Dr. Laughton, who just so happens to be the man hired by Duke Red to build his new robot daughter. The police are far to busy trying to control all the hubbub surrounding the Ziggurat celebrations so Shunsaku is assigned a robot detective to help find the doctor. He’s kinda like Inspector Gadget but without the personality. Oh, and he doesn’t screw up all the time. Not entirely sure he has gadgets either. Hmm, Ok so he’s not like Inspector Gadget, he’s just a robot detective.

Anyway, the three head into Zone 1, the zone beneath the city where, at that very moment, Duke Red is visiting Laughton in order to check up on his ‘bot-daughters progress. Rock watches from above as Duke seems to fawn over the incomplete robot and, deciding when the robot is finished his father will never have time for him again, decides to shoot Laughton. The bad doc’s lab explodes, activating and apparently finishing the robot, Tima, and the subsequent fire attracts the attention of Shunsaku, Kenichi and Inspector Not-Gadget which leads to Kenichi rescuing Tima from the fire but also getting separated from his uncle and the boring, gadgetless detective. During their time together alone, Kenichi teaches Tima the basic concepts of humanity and such, as well as meeting a chirping recycle-bot.

Meanwhile, Duke Red tries out the Ziggurat which it turns out to be a sun-spot causing super weapon, the testing of which causes some robots on the surface of Metropolis to go bat-shit crazy. This of coure means that the Marduks have to shoot the shit out of them. Since the Ziggurat was tested without permission and because it seems as though the Ziggurat will massively change the political scope of the city, the mayor and the president decide it is time to arrest Duke Red.

As his uncle and Inspector Boredom work on the hunch that Rock killed Laughton, Kenichi and Tima are being hunted by Rock. They manage to evade him and encounter Atlas, the leader of an anti-robot movement made up largely of workers who have lost their jobs to the increasing mechanisation of the city. When their rations are put on hold during the Ziggurat celebration, they decide to start a revolution beginning with killing off Mr. Gadgetless, the robot detective helping Shunsaku. The president and the mayor are assassinated and Duke Red takes control, the military squashing the rebellion and eventually Tima falls into Duke Red’s hands and it turns out she isn’t just a replacement daughter. She is destined to sit on the throne of the Ziggurat and become the weapon’s control device.

Suddenly Rock shoots Tima, causing a wound which makes her realise her own artificial nature and angers her enough that she joins with the Ziggurat, using it for her own desire to begin a world-wide robot revolution and orders the annihilation of the human race. The robots attack mankind until Kenichi manages to separate Tima from her throne, trying to help her regain all he had taught her about being human even as she tries to kill him. Meanwhile the robots attempt to kill Duke Red. In an effort to save his father, Rock pushes the button to activate the weapon but instead causes it to overload, leading to this scene:

Metropolis I can’t stop loving you
Uploaded by Marceau84

Fuck yeah, I love this scene. It’s reminiscent of the ending of Dr. Strangelove, a touching song playing over the scene of total devestation. Hell yeahs. Anyway, it seems as though Kenichi finally reminds Tima that she once believed herself to be human and what that meant but as she realises this she falls to her apparent death.

The next morning Kenichi helps the robot casualties whilst searching for Tima, finding various parts of her. He then joins his uncle in evacuating Metropolis with humans and robots in a giant plan-like thing. The final shot, however, is of a radio playing music. When it finishes, Tima’s voice can be heard coming across it saying “Who Am I?” suggesting that if her thoughts are still being broadcast then she may be, for want of a better word, alive.

So there you have it. Metropolis. A truly wonderful film with a wonderful ending. The art is crisp, clean and melded perfectly with CGI. The characters seem to be faithful to, I can’t say the manga because I’ve never read it, but Osamu Tezuka’s style. I don’t find the pacing to be a major issue in it like I do in many, many anime films and, though there are a few awkward dialogue moments there aren’t nearly enough to detract from the overall greatness of this movie and if you do find it to distracting, the DVD version comes with the original Japanese and subtitles. Lovely Jubbly.

The film also has an amazing soundtrack. Not only does it feature Ray Charles’ “I Can’t Stop Loving You.” during that climactic scene, it also has some fantastic Jazz throughout. And who doesn’t love robots and jazz? Well probably that wanker robot detective without any gadgets but everyone else loves them. Awesome.

So now that I’ve finally started writing shit again, come back tomorrow for something else. Maybe a review of Watchmen, maybe another Top 10 list. Maybe something completely different. Who knows? I haven’t decided yet. Laterz.

%d bloggers like this: