Review: Inception by Jamie

Another spoiler free review. Well, I say spoiler free but since the plot of Inception has been kept so quiet, pretty much everything is a spoiler. No endings or anything will be given away though. Also, I’m sorry if this review seems a bit weird or if there are more spelling or grammar mistakes than usual but I hit my head pretty hard on Saturday night and I’m having a hard time focusing on what I write for too long. Anyway, enjoy.

Christopher Nolan has certainly made quite a name for himself round Hollywood way. The man seems to be a master story teller with a real flair for incredible visuals. Essentially he’s a world builder, taking odd or interesting concepts which could easily seem otherworldly and bizarre and manages to ground them in some sort of plausible reality. Take ‘The Dark Knight’ for example. He managed to make a man dressed as a bat trying to stop a terrorist dressed as a clown seem perfectly rational. That takes quite a bit of genius to achieve.

So when the hype began to build around his latest film, ‘Inception’, the world began to take notice. The trailer didn’t give too much away and the plot remained fairly under wraps until the films release. In fact the secrecy surrounding the film is probably the most impressive thing given that we now live in the internet age where things are leaked or crew members accidentally give things away on Twitter to such a degree that you often know the plot of a film before you go in. Somehow Inception managed to avoid all that which must have been pretty sweet for a big summer blockbuster.

So what exactly is the film about? Well, to tell you exactly would be kind of spoiler territory so how can I do this properly. Well, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team are a bunch of extraction experts who use their special skills and equipment to head into peoples dreams and extract important information and secrets. The title Inception comes from actually implanting ideas inside peoples heads which is apparently very difficult to do.

The film looks about as stunning as you’d expect something from Christopher Nolan and his cinematographer Wally Pfister (Hehehe, Pfister) to look. From the streets of cities to snow covered mountains, it’s all very crisp and clear. The CGI is impressive as well, particularly the scenes you’ve probably seen in the trailer of streets rising up to a 90 degree angle. The important thing and something Nolan seems to be pretty consistent with is that the CGI is used very sparingly. After all, as one of the characters says in the film, dreams are generally pretty normal and you don’t realise you’re in them until you notice something amiss or something really crazy happens.

There’s also a nice sprinkling of physical effects as well. For example there is a scene in which a fight occurs in a zero gravity environment and, as I understand it, all of that was done practically with a giant tube that span around a lot of something. I did know the technical term for that once but the smack to my noggin seems to have knocked it out of my brain box. Fuck. The point is that it’s a kick ass action scene as most of the action scenes are.

In fact there seems to be a lot of hype surrounding this film about how complex and intricate everything is but to be fair I didn’t really see it that way. I actually thought that the whole thing played fairly straightforwardly as a slightly more intelligent than average action film would. Of course I think the level of complexity that you consider the film to have all depends on how you take the final scene. That’s all I’ll say about that. If you have seen the film and you want to know my take on it then you’ll have to ask me in person, over twitter or over facebook or something.

All of the acting is fairly solid though some of the characters were the kind of stock characters you’d find in any heist film (and yes, at heart this is kind of a heist film). You’ve got you’re intelligent and cautious character who just wants to get the job, you’re comic relief who’s a bit cocky, you’re character who’s providing the money and the job in the first place who’s never done a heist before but insists on coming along anyway and you’re rookie who’s brought in because they’re skilled in a specifically specialised job that the team needs for this mission. In a lesser film this kind of thing would annoy me but here it all works fairly well and most of the characters are fleshed out a little better than what I’ve just written would suggest. Fuck feeling woozy again.

There is one major problem I did kind of have with the film though and I’m afraid that in order to address it I’m gonna have to enter some very light spoiler territory. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want anything at all revealed then perhaps you should go away now. I was going to give the film four and a half out five anyway and highly suggest you watch it so there you go.

Right, are they gone? Good. Ok, the only real problem I had was the fact that everyone keeps on going on about how difficult inception is, how hard it is to implant a fresh idea in someone’s head without them realising that it’s been planted there but to be honest it kind of seemed as though it wouldn’t have been that difficult if not for the fact that their target had had his mind trained to protect itself from extraction and one of the crew had severe problems that was infecting the targets dream state. Honestly, it looked their mission would have been pretty damned easy if not for those two elements but hey, I guess I’m kinda nitpicking here. Oh, speaking of nitpicking it did seem to me as though Joseph Gordon Levitt was kinda young to be an expert at extraction but hey, he turned in a solid performance so I guess I can let it slide.

Right, I’m sorry, I’d love to write more on this review but I’m just having trouble concentrating on words being typed on a screen without feeling really dizzy so I’m gonna have to stop. Maybe I’ll have another, fuller review written when the Blu-Ray comes out and everyone’s had a chance to see it. I’ll sum up by saying Inception is a damn fine film but I didn’t find it as complex as everyone’s been saying. In fact, I found the Joker’s plot in ‘The Dark Knight’ and the way he played everyone in Gotham City to be far more complex but again, I think it all comes down to how you take the ending. That’s it, apologies again but I have to end this now. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

Review: Toy Story 3 by Jamie

Right. This is a spoiler free review.

15 years ago, the first fully CGI animated film was released by Pixar. That film was, of course, Toy Story.. It introduced us to a cast of characters who, despite being made of plastic, had an emotional range equal or greater than many actors who have graced the silver screen. And far, far more emotional range than Keanu Reeves. It was a great film as was the second which came out in 1999. A good time was had by all.

Personally, I was 10 or 11 when the first Toy Story film came out. It’s hard to pin down exactly which because of the great difference in release dates between the UK and the US, especially with Pixar films and especially back then. Still even though I wasn’t exactly a little kid I still kind of grew up with the Toy Story films and, even though I’m always a little cautious with sequels, especially ones with the number three in the title, I was looking forward to Toy Story 3. So was my anticipation rewarded with the kind of joy akin to receiving a Castle Grayskull on Christmas Day or was my hope dashed to pieces like so many ruined LEGO creations?

The answer, of course, is rewarded. Toy Story 3 is seriously the best film to come out this year (Still haven’t seen Inception yet but even that will have to work hard to top this) and admittedly that’s not saying much given the turgid shit that this summer seems to have served us up so let me go one step further. Toy Story 3 is one of the best films this decade… Wait, that doesn’t work either what with this being the first year of the decade… Fuck it, Toy Story 3 is really, really good, alright.

I’m not gonna do one of my normal, long winded synopsises because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Everyone should see this film and they should see it knowing as little as possible about it. So I’ll just summarise a few things that everyone should probably already know. It’s a good few years after Toy Story 2 and Andy is 17 and is getting ready to leave for college. In the confusion of his packing, moving things to the attic and moving other things to the trash, his old toys get donated to a local daycare. They find life isn’t as awesome there as they might have hoped and so they decide to try and escape and make their way back to Andy.

There, synopsis over. Let’s get to the substance. There is so much going on in this film and yet it plays out in a beautifully simple way. It touches on themes of loyalty, love, friendship, family and learning to let go and it all seems as though Pixar where taking a massive risk taking the franchise in this direction. They could have done another film set when Andy is young and it all would have been very safe and familiar and I think the first idea for this film would have been like that with some kind of recall for Buzz Lightyear figures put into effect or something. Thankfully someone came up with this idea and thankfully Pixar doesn’t shy away from risks.

Perhaps first and foremost on the importance block is the fact that the film was funny. I mean really funny. There were scenes were the whole cinema was filled with raucous laughter, in particular a certain situation involving Mr. Potato Head and when Buzz is accidentally set to a Spanish mode (Don’t worry, that’s not a spoiler, it was in the trailer.

Still, the character with the most consistently funny scenes is Ken (Michael Keaton) who I was surprised was actually in the film as much as he is. I remember seeing the clip of him and Barbie meeting in either a trailer or a preview clip online and thought that would be it, he would be there for that one joke. Thankfully he’s not and he is awesome. He is ridiculously camp, obsessed with fashion and just basically seems to have the kind of personality that a male toy from a girls toy line would probably have.

The villain of the piece shows up in the cuddly bear form of Lotso (Ned Beatty) a toy who certainly has some issues with abandonment. He is aided in his dominance of the Daycare by Big Baby, a baby doll who appears in one of the creepiest and bizarre moments of the films. I won’t give it away but I’ll just say it involves a swing and it is awesome.

Speaking of terrifying, Jesus fucking Christ, one of those creepy fucking cymbal monkeys is in here as well, his unblinking eye always watching for any escapees, his cymbals and horrible monkey screeches acting as an alarm. He also posses one of those rictus grins that those little bastards always have. Ugh, but still awesome.

Speaking even more of terrifying, there is a scene near the end that is actually pretty goddamn horrific considering the film is a U. But it is also this scene which has perhaps the second most heart-wrenching moment in the entire film, just watching the toys come together as a family and the way that they deal with what is about to happen to them. I have no shame in saying that I was crying at that moment and also genuinely scared for the characters.

The biggest heart-wrenching moment is, however, the ending. Seriously if you don’t cry during that scene then you are an inhuman monster, devoid of emotion, incapable of empathy and we should probably lock you away before we find a bunch of dead hookers buried under the patio in your garden. You sicken me.

Hmm, I don’t like this whole writing without spoilers thing. It constrains me too much. Still, you honestly just have to see this and I would hate myself if I ruined any of it for you.

Now, is there anything really that bad to say about the film? Well, not much actually. There is the occasional bit where the film seems to drag on a little but these moments are few and far between and quickly forgotten when things get going again. There’s also the feeling that some of the plots threads are recycled from the previous two films and the idea of a prison break style plot isn’t exactly massively original but it all seems easily forgivable given what the filmmakers do with everything they have at their disposal.

So to summarise, Toy Story 3 will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will make you nostalgic for your own childhood and your own toys. It has references to Jurassic Park, Cool Hand Luke and the original Toy Story with a cameo from Sid. Hell, it even has Timothy Dalton playing a thespian stuffed hedgehog.

Most importantly it is the ending to a great trilogy of films (Hopefully at least. The biggest mistake Pixar could make is deciding to green light a Toy Story 4), a trilogy 15 years in the making. For many of us that’s a substantial part of our lives, certainly over half of mine. We’ve travelled along way and for a long time with these characters, we’ve seen them lose their way and redeem themselves. We’ve seen them grow closer as friends and as a family. Finally we’ve seen the end of their story and, even though they are only toys, it’s one of the most emotional and human endings to any film series I have ever seen. Five pints out of five. Laterz.

Review: Zardoz by Jamie

The 1970s. It was the decade that brought us the Watergate Scandal, the beginning of summer blockbusters and the colour combination of orange and puke green was a viable style for home furnishings. And if the film Zardoz is anything to go by, everyone was batshit insane. That might explain those orange and puke green sofas actually.

Zardoz is set in the distant future of 2293 after some great apocalypse has ruined the world. Most of the world is a pretty desolate wasteland which is inhabited by a race of people known as the Brutals. Some of these Brutals form a class of chosen people called Exterminators who worship the god Zardoz who appears to them in the form of a giant flying stone head and tells them that “The gun is good. The penis is evil.” The exterminators orders are to kill the other Brutals to stop them from spreading over the Earth. In fact, only the Exterminators are given permission from Zardoz to breed.

Yeah, I know. That all seems pretty fucked up. And don’t get me wrong. It is. Especially when you take into consideration just what it is that the Exterminators wear as their uniform. Allow me to show you in the form of Sean Connery, who plays a character called Zed in this film.

This man has a knighthood.

I don’t know exactly how you would describe that outfit so I’ll use the words Channel 4 used. They described it as “a red nappy, knee-high leather boots, pony tail and Zapata moustache” which is a fair description although they failed to mention the red bandolier which really ties the whole thing together. I have decided to dub it the ‘Bondage Bandito’ look.

Anyway, one day Zardoz orders the exterminators to force the other Brutals to farm grain for him which infuriates the Exterminators because they have come to love the thrill of the hunt and the kill. One day, Zed sneaks aboard the giant floating rock head in a bunch of grain and kills the pilot, Arthur Frayn (Niall Buggy). Oh, I should probably explain that in the films prologue the floating head of Arthur appeared and told me he could not die and that his occupation was as the false god Zardoz… So yeah, there’s that.

The floating rock head takes Zed to a hidden community known as the Vortex where a bunch of people who call themselves the Eternal live. These people have been alive since the great, yet still unidentified, apocalypse that turned the world from a pre-apocalyptic world to a post-apocalyptic world occurred. They have been kept alive and young by an artificial intelligence called the Tabernacle. They are the guardians of the collective knowledge of human civilisation for the future. However their long lifespan has made them bored, made reproduction pointless and the men impotent and life is pretty much day after day of the same menial task. They cannot even commit suicide because the Tabernacle simply regenerates them. In essence they are protecting the knowledge of mankind for a future that will not come because of their own inactivity.

Some of the Eternals have become so bored with life that they have been struck down with a disease which puts them into a barely conscious state, something akin to a zombie without the ravenous devouring of human flesh. They wander about only ever reacting when a piece of food is given to them and even then just barely. Others have gone completely off the rails, fallen out of sync with the rest of their society and they are dealt the harshest punishment that a deathless society can. They are forcibly aged and sentenced to a life of eternal senility.

So the Eternals read Zed’s mind and find out that he got access to the Vortex when he followed some prey into a library. There he was led to a book about the ABCs and eventually he learned to read. Then one day he found the book ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and learned that this was where Zardoz had gotten his name from. (The Wizard of Oz). When he read the book and found that it was about an all powerful being which turns out to be nothing more than a normal man behind a giant mask, he becomes enraged and suspects the truth behind Zardoz which led him to the whole sneaking into the giant rock head.

The Eternals also find out that due to his genetics, he is more powerful physically and mentally than all of them and could bring about their destruction. the Eternals, led by a woman called Consuella (Charlotte Rampling) decide they must kill Zed but with some help from an Eternal scientist named May (Sara Kestelman) and a half aged Renegade by the name of Friend (John Alderton) Zed escapes destruction and learns all human knowledge that has ever been knowed… No, wait. Known. All human knowledge that has ever been known. Zed then begins to understand the nature of The Tabernacle and manages to destroy it by entering it’s tiny crystal, running around a hall of mirrors and shooting at those mirrors. The hall of mirrors scene last for about five minutes, maybe longer, and is one of the oddest things I’ve seen in a film. And that’s saying something when you’ve already seen Sean Connery dressed up as the Bondage Bandito. I really want you to go right ahead and fuck yourself M. Night. Just go right ahead and fuck yourself…. Oh sorry, that was yesterday’s review.

With the Tabernacle destroyed, the giant invisible wall which surrounds the Vortex disappears and the Eternals become mortal again. Arthur Frayn shows up again and explains that as the person who the Eternals had placed in charge of the lands outside the Vortex, he had begun an extensive breeding program in order to create a specimen who would be able to destroy the Tabernacle and end their pointless eternal existence. At this point the Exterminators show up and kill most of the Eternals which they are really quite happy about.

A small band survives and heads off to live with the Brutals except for Consuella who goes off to live with Zed in the giant rock head which crashed to the ground when the Tabernacle was destroyed. The film ends with a sequence showing Zed and Consuella sitting in the rock head and progressively getting older whilst Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony plays. They also have a son who grows and leaves them upon reaching adolescence. Eventually they die and their skeletons sit there holding hands for a bit. The camera then zooms behind them to show two cave painting style handprints on the wall next to Zed’s rusted pistol. Given the fact that the two had a son I guess the message here is “Fuck you gun. Not so good are you now, eh? Guess the penis is back to rule the fucking roost.”

My god. I can’t believe I managed to write a synopsis for that film. I’ve still left massive chunks of the movie out. There’s just too much bizarre and crazy shit going on here to fit it all in. I didn’t even get to the slide show about erections, Zed’s ability to reverse the destruction of statues or the future porn of 2293. Yet despite it’s insanity and the fact that you see Sean Connery running around in that outfit with his 43 year old man boobs jiggling all over the place, it’s actually quite an enjoyable film.

You literally can’t take your eyes of the screen because a) Sean’s jiggling man boobs are actually slightly hypnotic and b) you have absolutely no idea just what fucking direction the film is going to take next. One minute Zed is being treated like a simple beast of burden, the next he’s the fucking chosen one going mental in a hall of mirrors. It goes so far in the direction of crazy that you just can’t figure out how this movie was written, shot and released without someone at some point just saying “Wait, what the fuck is this meant to be?”

Now, this film was written and directed by John Boorman who also brought us the hillbilly rape and revenge drama ‘Deliverance’ and the tale of King Arthur in ‘Excalibur’ (which I still have to review at some point). Zardoz certainly bears a certain resemblance to Excalibur. In fact they’re kind of similar. They’re the tales of chosen heroes… Alright, that’s kind of where the similarity ends I guess but they certainly have the same feel about them and I think they’d actually make quite a good double feature together with Excalibur being the really good and fun one and Zardoz being the really bizarre but fun one. Not that Excalibur doesn’t have it’s share of eccentricities as well. More on that at a later date.

I would be remiss as an atheist and a sceptic if I didn’t mention what I saw as quite a good sceptical message in there that in order to break free from oppression you must rise up against those who would use imaginary all powerful beings to subjugate you and that an eternal life in paradise would be excruciatingly boring. Of course I could just be reading my own beliefs and philosophies into it but that’s one of the messages I get from the film. I suppose you could also see a bit of anti-scientific message in there as well seeing as the Tabernacle, the pinnacle of human science, has destroyed the balance between life and death, between man and nature and must be destroyed in order to restore that balance. Of course, the Tabernacle does see itself as kind of a god seeing as it is all knowing and all seeing so I suppose you could also see it as the destruction of another god in order to free mankind of it’s enslavement. What I’m saying is that there are a few ways you could take this film.

The film is also very, very clearly made in the 70s. It just has that air about it, so much so that I’m surprised that Zed’s Bondage Bandito outfit isn’t orange and puke-green in colour. I’ve gotta say that with the mention of auras and crystals throughout the film that it must take some influence from the new age and hippy ethos that permeated the late 60s and early 70s. Also there are bare 70s boobs all over the place, If you can’t tell the difference between a 70s boob and a modern boob in film then you need to watch more films from the 70s that feature boobs. Then watch more films with boobs in them because the gun is good, the penis is evil and the boob is awesome.

At the end of the day, I have absolutely no idea how to rate it. I enjoyed it but I’m not sure why and I’m not actually even sure how much. So in honour of my completely confused but entertained state, I give this film moustache out of five. Laterz.

Review: The Last Airbender by Jamie

Some spoilers for the cartoon and the movie are ahead. Not really that much though.

Also if you’re a child who has somehow stumbled upon this review to find out about what is, to be fair, a film aimed at children, you might want to look elsewhere. Things might get curse wordy.

I had never watched ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ until this past weekend managing to get through all three series in about three days. The reason was so that I could properly compare the series to the M. Night Shyamalan ‘The Last Airbender’ which is based on said series. What did I think of the series? Well, I fucking loved it. There is so much greatness within a show that it would be impossible to explain just how awesome it is and why in this opening paragraph. Let’s just say that if you haven’t seen it, you should watch it at your next possible opportunity.

But no, this review isn’t about the show. It’s about the movie. Let’s start of with some of the good things. Well, the special effects were pretty good and the settings did look like the places that were in the show, so yeah, that was OK. Also the costumes seemed pretty accurate too. Still if I had one complaint with the special effects it’s that the elements being bended didn’t seem to flow as well with the people doing the bending as they did in the show.

Well, that’s pretty much the good stuff out of the way, now onto the rest of the film. The show had spirit, heart and an engaging story. The movie has none of these things. Seriously, it’s like they got a bunch of cosplayers together and got them to play out short vignettes of things that sort of happened in the cartoon. Cosplayers that weren’t particularly good actors. Scenes skip by as characters move from place to place with no journey in between with just the occasional bit of narration to fill us in with things that happened in the cartoon that they just didn’t have time to put into the film.

It’s almost like M. Night watched the series, noted down a few scenes he considered to be important, changed them slightly so they’d fit within an hour and a half and then ignored everything that came between those scenes which is a massive, massive shame because it’s in those journeying scenes between that you often got proper character development within the series. What I’m basically saying is that this is a film about an epic quest with most of the quest removed. You don’t even get the sense that Sokka and Katara have become friends with Aang. It just seems like they view him as a super weapon that they have to stop from getting into the wrong hands.

Whole plot points which become massively important later on in the story are excised completely such as the Kyoshi warriors and the city of Omashu. Of course the characters involved in those parts of the story are lucky that they’ve been left out because, fucking hell, the characters that have been left in are pretty much just cardboard cutouts of the characters from the show, their personalities barely recognisable or even apparent during most of the film.

Aang (pronounced rhyming with sung here rather than sang for… some reason) isn’t the goofy and plucky young boy who seems good natured despite what he has experienced and what he has to overcome. No, now he’s all dark and depressed and serious because… well everything has to be dark and serious these days, doesn’t it? Nothing can be fun anymore. Well you know what, M. Night? Some things work when you make them dark like Batman and some things don’t like Avatar: The Last Airbender! Aang is a likeable character because of his fun-loving nature and the occasional times when he did get upset only furthered to flesh out his character not become his defining character trait. Damn it. Fuck you M. Night. Fuck you.

And thanks to the protracted nature of the story, certain moments of character development go by and seem completely pointless. For example in this film when Kuzo dresses up as the Blue Spirit and recovers Aang from Zhao’s custody, it’s pretty much just a way to get the story from point A to point B because it didn’t seem like Kuzo had been pursuing them for any time at all. In the show it had emotional resonance because they actually share a moment in the forest after the rescue where Aang offers his would be kidnapper the opportunity for friendship. No, honestly, fuck you M. Night.

Oh and the dialogue! Fuck the dialogue. It’s pretty much all exposition. Literally, I don’t think there’s a line in here that isn’t just explaining something which could have just been shown. You could probably watch this without actually looking at the screen and still be able to tell what the basic gist of the story is because it’s all helpfully explained to you because hey, you’re a moron. A moron who needs everything spelled out for you because you’re too stupid to figure things out if actual plot points or character development is shown to you. They don’t even show Sokka falling in love with Princess Yuwe. It’s simply explained away in a piece of narration in which Katara explains that they have become “fast friends’. Fucking fuck you M. Night. Fuck!

As for the acting, well, it’s kinda hard to describe really. Even Dev Patel, playing Zuko, is pretty much wasted here. I honestly can’t blame the actors for their wooden performances here because I get the feeling that it suffers from the poor direction, poor writing and having to work with CGI that the Star Wars prequels suffered from. To be fair, Aasif Mandvi as general Zhao was probably the best actor on screen but even he was playing such a stock, cardboard cutout villain that it’s hard to get excited about it.

Gah! Thinking about this film is making me feel angry and just a little bit sickly. The worst part is if you’ve seen and enjoyed the series, then this film will piss you off. If you haven’t seen the show I don’t know if you’ll be able to figure out what’s going on at all. It’s a lose-lose situation. I would say that this will probably be the worst film of the year but we still have an outing from Friedberg and Seltzer to come in the form of Vampires Suck so yeah, it’s still up in the air at the moment. Fuck. I think I know how Dragonball fans felt when Dragonball Evolution came out.

At the end of the day there is just no fun in this film and that’s the biggest crime of all. The show managed to take these children characters and put them in dangerous situations with serious consequences but it always managed to be fun. This is just a soulless interpretation of the source material and it sucks hard. I’ll end with a quote from episode 17 of the third series. The characters have just left a play which has been based on their adventures. It applies pretty damn well to this film adaptation of their journey as well…

Zuko: That… Wasn’t a good play.
Aang: I’ll say.
Katara: No kidding.
Suki: Horrible.
Toph: You said it.
Sokka: But the effects were decent.
Aang: Fucking fuck you to hell, M. Night. Fuck you to hell.

OK, that last line wasn’t in the episode but I think you gt the idea. The Last Air Bender get’s a half a pint out of five. Laterz.

Review: The Fourth Kind by Jamie

Alien Abduction. It’s a very serious problem which troubles crazy people on a daily basis. Or at least it used to. I mean, does anyone really care about the whole alien abduction phenomenon since ‘The X-Files’ went off the air? Haven’t we grown as a species and, apart from a few fringe die hard believers, kind of moved on from that ridiculous belief which once seemed so prevalent?

Now, as I’ve stated before I used to be a believer in practically any paranormal bullshit that came along. I was an atheist but not yet a sceptic. The real big thing for me though was the Greys. Something about them just grabbed my attention when I was younger. I was even pretty convinced that my brother was abducted by aliens because he had a fear of masks (A common complaint amongst those who believe they’ve been abducted…. God, I wish I didn’t know that) and because he used to talk really loudly in his sleep. Not pleasant talk either, more aggressive and terrified.

Even know I have a soft spot for the big-eyed bastards. There’s just something about them that really gets to me and kind of still creeps me out. I remember how much pictures of them or seeing them in films used to creep me out. I’d always have to look away when ever they appeared in a magazine, book or on the screen but I’d always have to look again even though I knew it scared me. Yeah I was weird.

This is my probin’ hand, bitch.

Then came my great sceptical awakening. Still not sure entirely when it happened but certainly in my very early twenties, which kind of saddens me that I spent so much time and money pursuing my interest in the paranormal. To be fair having all this knowledge about the weird things people believe probably gave me the tools to be a better sceptic so swings and roundabouts I suppose. But yeah, one day I just stopped believing in all of it. I was an atheist because I didn’t see any conclusive evidence for the existence for a God and I kind of realised that I should probably apply the same rule to all these paranormal beliefs I had and, on further investigation, none of them held up to that kind of scrutiny.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that aliens definitely don’t exist. On the contrary, I think it perfectly reasonable to think that somewhere beyond the reaches of our pale blue dot, life exists but not because of that same old argument ‘Well, it’d be arrogant to assume we’re the only intelligent life in the universe.’ It’s not arrogant because we’re the only example we know of. It’s a pretty small sample to draw from. Still the fact that life has evolved on this planet and given the vastness of the universe, it’s perfectly acceptable to speculate that it’s probably happened somewhere else.

The idea that aliens have actually visited us, on the other hand, is a totally different kettle of fish. The physics involved with long term space travel just make it seem really, really unlikely. Not necessarily impossible but really, really unlikely.

Anyway, that’s my background with alien abduction and thoughts on it now. I suppose we should probably take a look at this little movie also dealing with this particular subject, ‘The Fourth Kind’.

Let’s begin with the movie’s biggest flaw. It starts off with Mila Jovovich appearing on screen and explaining that the film is based on actual events and dramatizations of those events will be interspersed with actual recordings that were taken at the time. This often takes the form of a split-screen with one side showing the dramatization and the other showing the ‘real life’ recordings. The main problem with this gimmick is that it’s fucking annoying. I don’t need two people saying the exact same dialogue. True, the gimmick does provide some of the better parts of the film later on but that is just the “actual” recordings played by themselves. The whole split-screen thing is just kind of intrusive, especially when they start fucking around with it and splitting the screen into multiple little boxes and they start moving all around the screen.

The worst example of this is during a fairly tense scene. A man who has uncovered some rather disturbing memories involving alien intruders has decided to hold his family hostage with a pistol. Mila Jovovich, playing the man’s psychiatrist, is trying to talk him out of killing anyone and the tension starts to build and them these squares just form and start moving all over the place and it kind of ruins the mood.

To be fair, that’s probably the worst thing I can say about this film. The problem is though that it happens a lot. What could have been quite a tense, fluid abduction thriller is constantly having it’s mood broken.

Now the film kind of plays out like an episode of ‘The X-Files’ just without Mulder and Scully. Which is no bad thing for me… except for the no Mulder and Scully thing. That kind of sucked. But yeah, ignoring the ridiculous gimmick, it’s actually a fairly well-paced thriller with a few generally creepy and outright scary moments.

There are a couple of scenes in particular in which a couple of characters are possessed by an alien who speaks ancient Sumerian that I actually found kind of difficult to watch alone by myself at night in a hotel. The noise the people make before the aliens begin speaking through them is pretty fucking horrific and, though it’s difficult to make out because the recording becomes distorted, something happens to the peoples faces during this possession that just reminded me of the final scene in ‘Rec’ which I will maintain is one of the creepiest fucking scenes ever put to film.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this film. I was thinking it was gonna another shitty, boring film based on “true” events like ‘Paranormal Activity’ was but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. Still it could have been so much better if they’d just restrained themselves with the whole stupid split-screen bullshit. Probably could have done without the whole ‘based on true event’ angle as well really. I know it isn’t, you know it isn’t so why even bother. Just make an interesting film for fucks sake.

Finally a note about the owls in the film. I kind of like the effect used around the owls eyes, like ink was seeping from their eyes into their feathers, giving them the appearance of the classic gray alien eyes but come on. Owls aren’t scary or threatening at all. Would it have hurt to show at least one alien? I mean seriously, I spent the whole film waiting to just get a glimpse of those little abducting bastards and instead I get fucking barn owls as a substitute. There is nothing remotely threatening about a cuddly, little barn owl…

Holy shit! Has anyone made a film about killer owls? Seriously Hollywood, if no one’s made a killer owl film, get on it. That shit would be awesome. They are purest evil.

Overall I’ll give ‘The Fourth Kind’ three pints out of five. It was a pretty decent paranormal thriller with some pretty good ideas but ultimately it’s kind of ruined by it’s own attempts to be different. Keeping it simple would have made it so much better. Laterz.

Review: Spirit Camp by Jamie

When it comes to getting rid of an infestation of annoying teens at your summer camp, there’s really only one person you need to call. That person is of course Jason Voorhees (and I suppose his mother has been most helpful in the family business as well). Whether a living, breathing, psychopathic man-child or a Zombie serial-killer from beyond the grave, Jason has been cleaning up the scum from Crystal Lake for 30 years now. He’s truly a credit to his craft.

Still there are those who try and follow in the big guys footsteps, maybe hoping to catch him unaware and snatch the hockey mask from right off his face. And of all the horror movies set at a summer camp, ‘Spirit Camp’ maybe the worst I’ve seen yet. I would rather watch ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ for the rest of eternity then attempt to watch this shit again.

The first warning sign is that ’Spirit Camp’ describes itself as a horror comedy, a mix which can be difficult to achieve. There are many horror films which have comedic elements to them such as ‘Scream’ but in terms of successful horror comedies your first ports of call should be ‘Shaun of the Dead’, ‘Hot Fuzz’ (which contains action elements but seems to have far more in common with things like ‘Wicker Man’ and slasher films than it does ‘Point Break’) and something like ‘Gremlins’ and it’s sequel. These films seem to get the balance right. Fuck the balance up and you get ‘Spirit Camp’ which seems to be more like a shitty straight-to-DVD American Pie film which happens to have a serial killer for some reason (Seriously, no reason is ever given for the killers killer-ousness…).

This one time at Spirit Camp…

Let me give you an example of some of the humour. There is a sign at the camp which reads CAMP LUMIS: Pop. 69. Hahahah! That is funny because 69 is a sexual position as well as being a number! Hahahah! What great times we are having, you and I. Also if you’re going to reference a character from Halloween, maybe you should spell the name fucking correctly. It’s Loomis you fucktards, not Lumis. Fuck.

Yes that’s the level we’re dealing with here people. I’m not gonna lie to you. It hurts. Hurts deep. Hurts like a big hurty thing covered in spike being repeatedly shoved into your face before you suffer the final indignity of having it shoved somewhere you’d really rather prefer spikey, hurty things were not shoved.

As for the horror aspect, well there is shit that just doesn’t make sense here. I know, I know. There’s always shit that doesn’t make sense in a horror film. Things like characters running blindly into the woods in order to escape or people going upstairs in order to look for their friend in a wheelchair that they had left by themselves (See Friday the 13th: Part 2 for more details) but the shit that happens in this film just stretches the bounds of believability to breaking point.

For example, there are approximately six girls attending the camp, although one never makes it there, which leads me to ask the question just how the fuck does this summer camp for cheerleading actually stay open? I’m sure running a camp is probably quite costly so I’m sure they’d need to open their doors to a few more people. Anyway, that’s besides the point. My point is that one girl goes missing fairly early on and no one seems to remember her until far, far later on. I could understand her disappearance going unnoticed in a large group but in a group as small as the one in the movie, it should be noticed earlier. None of the camp counsellors notice either. In fact the woman who owns the camp leaves in order to by ammunition and is never heard from again.

The film also features what may be the most incompetent cop I have ever seen in a any film., despite his insistence that he’s hella experienced because of his 30 years on the force. A psychopathic killer has escaped from the local jail and he’s going to warn the woman who owns the camp. On his way he discovers a bag lying in the road. He pulls out a pair of panties, sniffs them and puts them in his pocket. Then he takes the bag and puts it in his car. Of course if he investigated the scene like a fucking cop probably should under these specific circumstances, then he would have found the body of a dead cheerleader mere feet away behind a tree. Then the camp would have been evacuated, a few more lives would have been saved and this movie wouldn’t of had to have happened. Fuck you cop and fuck you movie.

Fucking hell, I could go on and on about the plot holes in this film. Like why doesn’t the killer kill one character earlier on when he’s walking alone with her for sometime? Last time I checked movie serial killers weren’t that good at urge control. Why is the one girl camp counsellor coming on to the stereotypically gay camp counsellor especially when she’s known him for years and why does her head terrify me? Is the camp on week long or two weeks long? Accounts vary based on whether it is a parent or a camp counsellor doing the talking. Why is there unnecessary stock footage of an alligator? Why does that chick with the sweet body though slightly odd face have the fattest boyfriend imaginable and no one mentions it? I’m assuming they’d run out of actors. Seriously, that’s not even half of the problems but I don‘t have eternity to sit here.

Right let’s wrap this the fuck up by talking about the acting. It’s god fuck awful. It’s not helped by the god fuck awful script either and when you combine these two aspects together what you get is dialogue delivered like the worst porno you’ve ever seen. They sound like they’re just getting through the lines because hey, no ones here for that, we just need to get to the hardcore fucking as quickly as possible. But you know what? There is no hardcore fucking! Goddamn it movie, if you’re going to star what seem like Z-grade porn stars and have a Z-grade porn-esque script you good at least deliver on the promise that those things suggest. Instead the money shot here is a dude sitting next to a box full of dynamite that explodes…. And he survives with wuite minor looking burns all things considered.

So was there anything good about this movie? Well there was a raccoon in it for a few seconds and raccoons are the greatest things evolution ever produced. Raccoons make all films bearable, right?

Oh right… I guess not.

Ok, well then I guess there’s nothing redeemable about this film. Literally nothing. And don’t get me wrong. I love bad films. I’ve probably watched ‘The Room’ more times than I’ve watched any other film in the past year but this… this isn’t a film. This is just a thing that probably shouldn’t exist. Having said that, it’s still better than watching a film by those fucktards Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer so I guess I have to give it that. Well done movie. Well done. Overall, I’m gonna give it a half pint out of five just for that raccoon. I can’t help it they rule. Seriously though, if you do ever accidentally watch this film, here’s a little song I wrote to help you through:

It’s only illegal,
If you get caught.

With that in mind, I bid you adieu. Laterz.

Review: Predators by Jamie

Remember ‘Predator‘? It was a film made in 1987 that rocked your world. It rocked it and it rocked it hard. Remember those iconic scenes like a group of badasses shooting the shit out of a jungle or Billy staying behind on the log to take the Predator on alone? Well the writers (Michael Finch, Alex Litvak), producers (Robert Rodriguez, John Davis, Elizabeth Avellan) and director (Nimrod Antal) of ‘Predators’ certainly remember those scenes and are happy to show you half-assed versions of them because, hey, doing something original would just be too much bother.

Now there are things here which weren’t just ripped wholesale from the original ‘Predator’ and those things, for the most part, were incredibly, incredibly dull. It was mostly scenes of people walking through a jungle and when they weren’t walking through a jungle they were spouting some of the most terribly written dialogue ever committed to film.

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Maybe the problem is that I decided to watch the first and second Predator films before going to see this. Maybe all those scenes which were taken from the original seemed more like a nice, nostalgic homage to those who hadn’t seen the first one that day. All they did was reminded me of a far better, far less boring film. There’s none of the snappy dialogue that made even some of the slower scenes of that first film so fun to watch.

Again, maybe that’s not entirely fair. There were a few moments when I perked up and thought that something was finally going to happen. Generally anytime Topher Grace was on screen was quite fun as was the short time that Laurence Fishburne. They seemed to have the most developed and engaging characters which is a shame because they didn‘t get enough screen time and the rest of the characters just seemed to be stock characters who got barely any development whatsoever.

In the first film they managed to achieve character development through the interactions and dialogue of the characters as they trek through the jungle. You get an idea of who those characters are even though they do little more than trek through the jungle trying to hunt the hunter. In this film most of the dialogue seems to serve as little more than exposition especially the lines of Adrien Brody’s character who only seems to be there to figure out what’s just happened or what is about to happen and then explain those things to the rest of the crew.

There’s even a scene where Alice Braga relays the plot of the first Predator film. Why? Why does this need to happen? She could have explained that humanity had encountered these creatures before without essentially reading a synopsis of the first film. Like so much of this film, it just ends up being boring.

‘Predators’ also manages to piss me off by introducing these new, bizarre Predators which are apparently bigger and badder than the crab/vagina faced beasts we’ve come to now and love over the years. These new ones have slightly different faces with extended lower mandibles and as I say are apparently bigger though that’s kind of hard to ascertain during the film. Also they capture the Classic Predator’ types and hunt them as well. Why does this piss me off? Well because it just doesn’t make sense in the context of the series. Remember Jurassic Park 3? In that film a group of people go back to the same island that was in Jurassic Park 2 but this time there’s a bigger, badder carnivore there in the form of Spinosaurus. In the very beginning of the film it kills the T-Rex, beloved favourite dinosaur of many a human being. That was a dick move and it doesn’t make sense because that Spinosaurus probably should have shown up in Jurassic Park 2 if it was such a dominant carnivore on such a small island.

I have similar feelings about these new Predators. If they are so much more badass than the original Predators, how come we’ve never seen them before? I suppose you could say that these Predators do all their hunting by gathering specimens and bring them to game preserve planets but if this blood feud is as intense as it is implied in the film than how would the classic Predators get any hunting done without fear of being hunted themselves by these new Predators. It makes much more sense that one type would wipe out the other before resuming their normal hunting practices. Sigh. I guess I’m just over-analysing things as usual but I can’t help the way that my mind works.

Still the biggest problem with this is that the final showdown feels very Alien Vs Predatory. This time though you don’t have Xenomorphs, humans and Predators going at it. It’s Predator, human and Predator and that sucks just as hard. All right, it didn’t suck as much as Alien vs. Predator but it still wasn’t anything interesting.

So yeah, overall I was pretty damn disappointed with this film. I was so looking forward to it and it was just boring and that’s the worst crime a sci-fi, action film can commit. A lot of people have been saying that this is finally the worthy sequel that ‘Predator’ has been so deserving of. I’m sorry folks but I just don’t see it. Sure ‘Predator 2’ wasn’t a perfect film but it’s a helluva lot less boring than this tired, plodding piece of shit that does nothing we haven’t seen before. Even the Predator’s hunting dog things looked like someone had seen those dog things from ‘Avatar’ and said “Yeah, that’s what Predator needs. Let’s just add some spikes that would make their evolution and survival literally impossible.” Oh, and the less said about Adrien Brody’s American version of Jason Statham’s voice, the better.

Still it is better than both AVPs… I’ll give it that. Overall I rate Predators two pints out of five. One for some of spine-ripping scenes which were kinda cool and a half each for Topher Grace and Laurence Fishburne. Laterz.

Review: Independence Day by Jamie

It’s hard to believe that our little America was 234 years old yesterday. It seems like only yesterday that you were dressing up like Natives and dumping our tea in the Boston harbour. Now look at you. All grown up with your own postal service, building codes and monuments. We’re so proud of you.

It’s equally hard to fathom that the film ‘Independence Day’ is fourteen years old. Seriously, just try and fathom that, I dare you. See? I told you. It’s practically unfathomable. Still I can remember watching this film in some tiny cinema in some backwater Essex town which name escapes me now but it was certainly between the time that Braintree’s cinema closed and it’s new one opened. It could have been anywhere but I can still remember thinking how weird it was that this place that was essentially a village had a cinema whilst Braintree, an averagely sized town had none. I think I saw ‘The Blair Witch Project’ in the same place.

Anyway, that’s besides the point. The point is that I can remember that I was blown away by the film back then. It was fucking awesome seeing all those alien spaceships and exploding monuments. What wasn’t to love? My excitement was probably heightened by the fact that I was an eleven year old seeing a 12 rated film in the cinema and also the fact that I was deep into my fascination with the paranormal back then, particularly aliens so the fact that this film referenced things like Roswell and Area 51 was just icing on the awesome cake for me. Still some things stuck out as odd to me even back then. In particular the portrayal of the British soldiers but I’ve already gone into that in my ‘2012’ review.

I remember even have the graphic novel adaptation of the film which I read on the way to the cinema, something that I certainly wouldn’t do now. Fuck I even try and avoid comedy trailers nowadays simply because I don’t want the funny bits of the film ruined. I loved this film so much that I even had a couple of the alien action figures. I thought they were awesome with their weird bio-mechanical suits and frail little inhabitants. Yes, I was completely sucked in by the awesome I perceived ‘Independence Day’ to be.

So what would it be like watching it again now? I have actually watched it since, well, watching it may be a bit of an exaggeration. Let’s just say it’s been on whilst I’ve been in the vicinity of the television. Yes, it was time to actually sit down and watch it properly… And then watch it with the Rifftrax commentary directly afterwards. If anything’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.

So what’s the film about? Really? You need me to explain it? Everyone’s seen it, right? Can I finish a sentence in this paragraph without a question mark? Yes. Yes I can.
Anyway the basic gist of the plot is that aliens come and attack Earth. A group of generally unrelated characters come together and fight back and save America and the rest of the world from the alien menace. That’s pretty much it.

So who are these disparate characters? Well, there’s uh… ummm J-Jeff… Ah, yes Jeff Goldblum playing Jeff Goldblum playing David Levinson. No, that wasn’t a typo. Jeff Goldblum basically brings his usual Jeff Goldblum thing to this character but hey, he’s good at it so who am I to complain? David is a genius who manages to figure out the aliens are planning to attack. He decides to travel to Washington with his father Jewlius Levinson played by Judd Hirsch… Sorry, that should be spelled Julius. I just got confused because Julius is perhaps the most stereotypical portrayal of a New York Jewish character ever portrayed on screen. Seriously, he’s meshuga with the over the top Yiddish. Oy vey.

Anyway as I was saying, they schlep to Washington to meet David’s ex-wife Constance Spano (Margaret Colin) who just happens to be an advisor to President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman). In fact it was her decision to further her career in politics that caused their divorce. Still right now David needs to see the President so I guess it all conveniently worked out for the best.

Meanwhile The Fresh Prince of the US Air Force Captain Steve Miller (Will Smith) is having problems. The first is that he wants to become an astronaut but is finding it difficult because he is in love with Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox), a stripper, and NASA apparently has very strict rules against hiring people as astronauts if they want to marry a stripper. His second problem is that his Fourth of July weekend has been cancelled thanks to the massively inconvenience of an alien invasion. Thirdly, he has the most annoying best friend in the history of the world, Captain Jimmy Wilder (Harry Conick Jr). Thankfully the aliens sort out his third problem for him.

Even more meanwhile redneck drunkard Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) is having issues due to an alien abduction related incident ten years prior. It causes him all sorts of drink related problems such as crop-dusting the wrong fields and being a really, really shitty father. He’s just been looking for a chance to get back at those extra-terrestrial bastards and it looks like he might finally get it.

So that’s your main cast I guess. There are a few other characters that round the whole thing out like the president’s other employees, William Grey (Robert Loggia) , the wise but gruff military general and Albert Mimzki (James Rebhorn), the nuke happy, douche bag Secretary of Defence. There’s also wacky Area 51 researcher Dr. Brackish Okun, a man apparently so despised by his own parents that they named him after salty water and Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell), the First Lady who may or may not die in order to provide a poignant moment. By the way, she totally dies. Seriously though, they should have let her play the president, though I may be biased by my complete love of Battlestar Galactica.

So does the film hold up these days? Do I still believe it to be an unrelenting pile of awesome? Well, no. The special effects certainly look a little shoddy these days especially the scene with the incredible slow moving fireball in the tunnel which Jasmine, her son and their dog manage to escape by escaping into a maintenance room. The green screen effect is pretty fucking horrible, probably even by the standards of big blockbusters in the 90s. Plus there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of detail on the spaceships, more the illusion of detail… That’s not fair perhaps but what I’m talking about specifically is the giant death ray on the bottom of the ships. There’s just some metal bits and then a lot of ill-defined blue stuff.

As for the story it’s certainly true that much has been made of the ending where David and Steve manage to upload a computer virus into the alien ships systems and with good reason. It’s perhaps one of the most patently ridiculous plot points in any movie ever made. Seriously. If Macs are safe from the majority of viruses that can seriously shit up a Windows PC then how are we able to accept that we could infect a completely alien computer network with one? That shit just doesn’t make sense. And yes, I realise that it’s all supposed to be a modern, technological reference to ‘The War of the Worlds’ with the cold that wiped out the aliens replaced with a computerised version instead but I don’t care. As I previously stated, that shit just doesn’t make sense.

I suppose I can’t really finish this without bringing up President Whitmore’s little speech. Now thanks to the magical wonders of someone who can’t hold a camera still filming their television screen whilst the scene is playing, we can watch it. Let‘s do that, won‘t we?

Well, what can I say about it? Is it a bit cheesy, over-emotional and over-patriotic? Yes, yes it is. But then so is America. Don’t get me wrong, America, it’s these very qualities which endear you to me. I may not understand your rampant patriotism or emotionalism and there’re certainly not everyone’s cup of tea or light beer or whatever it is you drink in the States but I can find them charming in the same way that you find our Britishness quaint and endearing. Unfortunately the emotional impact of this scene is somewhat hampered by that whole British soldiers thing I mentioned earlier which happened but a few moments earlier.

And despite all the bad stuff I’ve said about this film, there’s an undeniable quality to it that just makes it somewhat entertaining. Sure there isn’t actually as much action and blowing shit up as you might expect from a sci-fi summer blockbuster and there are definite sections of the film which just seem to lull for what seems like an inordinate amount of time and the characters may all be cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes with no real reason to care but still about them but the movie somehow overcomes all those little problems to do what it sets out to do. Much like a little band of colonies did some 234 years ago. Happy America Everybody!

Oh, also the scene where the White House blows up is still pretty awesome.

The Original Still Exists: The Karate Kid by Jamie

Well, the time has come and The Karate Kid remake has been released. I haven’t seen it yet since it won’t be released in the UK until July but I’ve certainly complained about it enough in everyday life which on reflection certainly seems a bit harsh but the trailer really, really irked me. There are times when a remake can lovingly make reference to the original whilst establishing itself as some new and separate or it can go ‘The Clash Of Titans’ route and seemingly take the piss out of the original. In ‘The Clash Of The Titans’ remake there is a scene where Perseus picks up Bubo, the mechanical owl from the original, and is told to just leave it behind. To me that just seemed completely unnecessary and disrespectful to the original. In the trailer for The Karate Kid remake it looks as though Jackie Chan is trying to catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks before simply killing it with a fly swatter. To me this smacks of ‘Leaving The Owl’ as I will now refer to it.

Anyway much has been made of the recent remake trend in Hollywood. There are those that feel as though the films that we grew up loving are just being taken, given a modern facelift and being released in the interest of nothing more than making money. Of course the fact that most of these remakes are of films that came out in the 80s, the decade of consumerism, makes that a little hard to take completely seriously though it certainly seems that in many cases that does seem to be what’s going on here. Still no matter what happens it is important to remember that the original films still do and always will exist. The movie gestapo aren’t going to come around and destroy the original films that these remakes are based on. It’s also possible that the simple fact that the remakes exist may inspire people to revisit, or perhaps watch for the first time, those original films and that can’t be a bad thing… Unless they remake Jaws. I will bring about the end of the human race if anyone ever dares to remake Jaws. This I promise you.

Anyway, that’s what this new series of articles on Cinepub is all about, remembering and looking back at those original films on which these remakes have been based and I’m going to start with a personal favourite, the aforementioned ‘The Karate Kid’ from that greatest of all years, the year 1984. Spoilers ahead.

Now, I suppose it’s only fair to begin by saying that I love this film. It may even be in my top ten films of all time. It’s practically perfect in my mind. However, I suppose if you had to criticise the film for anything, it’d probably be the plot. It’s a pretty standard sports/fight film plot. Underdog must train in order to beat seemingly superior opponent. Simple as that. It’s a story we’ve all seen time and time again. It’s what is built around this fairly simple plot that makes this one of my favourite films of all time.

The true backbone of this film is the relationship between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita)… Still, I suppose we should get to the plot besides the whole underdog vs. seemingly superior opponent before we get into the relationships within the film.

So Daniel’s mother Lucille (Randee Heller) gets a new job in California

Yes, that’s right little mentally be-wronged boy from ‘The Wizard’, California. Anyway she moves herself and her son out there from New Jersey all the way to the aforementioned other state. Daniel’s pretty annoyed at being moved from one side of the country to the other but whilst moving in he’s actually invited to a beach party! And at the beach party he meets a girl that catches his eye, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue). Yes, things seem to be going pretty damn well for Daniel but of course this wouldn’t be much of a film without a conflict now, would it?

Unfortunately the Cobra Kai gang which is headed by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), Ali’s former boyfriend, stumble across the beach party and decide to crash it. Johnny decides to try and worm his way back into Ali’s good books, going so far as to steal her boom box. Daniel tries to defend her but is soundly thrashed by Johnny and his gang.

Still Daniel tries and persists with Ali and more thrashings from the Cobra Kai are dealt out towards him. All the while the friends who Daniel made on his first day at that beach party have abandoned him and so he finds himself developing a friendship with the janitor of his apartment complex, Mr. Miyagi, which really begins after Miyagi fixes Daniel’s bike after one of the aforementioned thrashings.

Over the months Daniel finally just kinda gives up on Ali and his only friend is Mr. Miyagi until the elderly janitor tells him that he should just go to the Halloween dance and try his luck with the girl he likes or as Miyagi puts it “To make honey, young bee need young flower, not old prune.” Which is an awesome quote. Daniel heads to the dance dressed as a shower and a prank ends in yet another thrashing but this time Mr. Miyagi sees the fights, intervenes and kicks the Cobra Kai’s collectives ass which leads Daniel to beg him to teach him Karate and also head down to the Cobra Kai dojo with him to try and get the bullies to let up on the beatings a bit.

So how does this meeting go? Well, the good news is that the Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) orders his students to leave Daniel alone. Unfortunately Daniel must now enter the local karate tournament with only a few months to train. I know what you’re thinking, well why doesn’t Daniel just not show up for the tournament? Wouldn’t that solve all of his problems? Unfortunately not. If that were to happen not only would Daniel’s beatings resume but Mr. Miyagi would be fair game as well. Yes, Sensei Kreese is such a douche that he would order his students to beat the shit out of an elderly old man.

And so Daniel-san, as Miyagi calls him, begins his training. Though the training seems odd to the young ninja wannabe because it mainly seems to consist of doing chores for the elderly janitor such as cleaning his car collection, sanding his patio and painting his fence and house. Finally pissed off, Daniel-san confronts Miyagi and the reason behind the chores becomes clear as all the movements that Miyagi had taught Daniel-san to carry out his tasks turn out to be karate blocking moves. Well played Miyagi. Well played.

Anyway, Daniel trains, Miyagi teaches, the two grow closer and Daniel also manages to grow closer to Ali though he can’t help but feel as though there will always be a gulf between them because she’s an uptown girl and he’s a back street guy, a feeling which isn’t helped by an incident at a country club. Still, through his training Daniel learns more than just karate from Miyagi. He also learns the importance of discipline and balance and uses these lessons in order to reconnect and build his relationship with Ali. He also learns that Miyagi once had a wife who died in childbirth whilst being held in Manzanar internment camp whilst he was serving America, the country that had imprisoned his family, in Europe, a service for which he was awarded the medal of honour. The combination of training and learning more about each other which leads them to developing a kind of father/son-esque bond.

Finally the tournament comes round and Daniel manages to reach the semi-final whilst Johnny manages to make it to the final. Sensei Kreese decides that he doesn’t want there to even be the possibility that Daniel might defeat Johnny and so orders his opponent, one of the Cobra Kai’s less cuntish students, to perform an illegal move against Daniel and damage his knee. The student reluctantly agrees getting himself disqualified and getting Daniel taken from the ring, effectively making Johnny the defacto winner.

Daniel is heartbroken but Miyagi tells him that he has proven himself. Still Daniel believes that if he doesn’t go out there and fight Johnny then his torment at the hands of the Cobra Kai will never end and he begs Miyagi to perform a pain suppression technique on his knee so that he can compete. Daniel hobbles back into the ring, the fight goes ahead and is boils down to a tie despite Sensei Kreese’s orders for Johnny to sweep the leg. Finally, barely able to even stand, Daniel performs the difficult crane kick manoeuvre and wins the match gaining the respect of Johnny and all of California. He’s the best around.

So yeah, that’s a basic outline of the plot and as I say it’s really the relationship between Miyagi and Daniel that provides the back bone of this film. It’s totally believable and totally moving. There was more than one point whilst re-watching this that I started to tear up a little. Moments such as when Daniel finds out what happened to Miyagi’s family and later when Miyagi throws him a little birthday party and gives him a few gifts. One is a Karate outfit including a symbol that Miyagi’s wife had made for him. The other is one of the classic cars from his collection. More important are the non-material things that Miyagi gives to Daniel. Things like balance, discipline and most importantly a father figure where he had none before. It’s truly believable and touching and most importantly at no point does it feel creepy that this young teenage boy’s best friend is an older gentleman. Mr. Miyagi is just a great teacher with regards to karate and life and we should all be so lucky as to have one.

Finally, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the music in The Karate Kid. It’s an 80stastic mixture of 80s awesome wrapped up in a very 80s package. 80s. Yes, it may seem a little cheesy now but there’s a little gland in the back of the head of everyone who experienced even a small part of the 80s that makes us enjoy it’s music on some kind of level even if we don’t want to. And let us remember that it was the Karate Kid that gave us one of the greatest and most inspiring songs that the world has ever known, ‘You’re The Best’ by Joe Esposito.

Right well, this has gone of for much longer and taken much longer than I ever would have thought. Suffice it to say the original film is fantastic and no matter whether the remake is good or bad, the original will always be around to watch again and again. I give this film 4.5 pints out of 5. Laterz.

%d bloggers like this: