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Zombie Month Repost: Fido by Jamie

Originally posted 30th October, 2009.

FidoTitle 2

A newer entry into Halloweek today, the 2006 film about a boy and his zombie, Fido.

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Zombie Month Repost: Dawn Of The Dead – The Remake by Jamie

Originally posted February 2nd, 2010

In 1968 a 28 year old filmmaker named George A. Romero made a film that would spawn not only a new genre but an entire pop culture phenomenon. That film was ‘The Night Of The Living Dead’ and it was the birth of zombies as we know them today. It was the first time that zombies were apocalyptic in nature, a world-wide event that meant the possible end of mankind.

Romero followed this up a decade later with a film which many consider to be the greatest zombie movie of all time ‘Dawn Of The Dead’. The film told the story of a group of survivors who barricade themselves inside a mall in an effort to escape the shambling hordes of zombies who have gathered outside. It was a simple story but for some reason its commentary on consumerism and its balls out gory violence struck a chord. It was destined to go down in history as a horror classic.

In 2004 the decision was made that Dawn was to be remade, directed by Zack Snyder who’d go on to direct ‘300’ and ‘Watchmen’. The basic plot, as it turned out, would essentially be the same: A group of survivors would hold up inside a mall and try to continue surviving but this time it would be all flashy and grand because it was the 21st century and ‘28 Days Later’ had been released just two years earlier. It’s what modern audiences would be expecting.

Yes, gone were the slow, shambling zombies that many of us had come to know and love. They were replaced by a new breed, a fast, screeching zombie. The runners who would bolt towards someone at the first sign of human activity. Now, as I said yesterday, I have come to appreciate the runners as long as they are used effectively or for good reason such as in ‘Zombieland’ or ‘Dead Set’. So does the Dawn remake really gain anything from using the runners instead of the shamblers?

Well, no. Not really. The problem is that for most of the film, the survivors are inside the mall and when they do head outside the zombies have gathered into a massive horde, so large in fact that it they don’t have enough room to run. Sure, there are scenes in a sewer and an underground car park which are probably better for having had the runners but what’s the point of having of giving them this super speed if they’d be just effective, more efective in fact, throughout most of the film if they were just the normal shamblers?

Perhaps I should clarify something before going on. I didn’t hate this film. It’s definitely entertaining. The first twenty minutes or so is simply a superb example of film-making and the later scenes between the group in the mall and Andy, another survivor on another rooftop, is a cool idea. Hell, the montage of the people going about their daily business inside the mall accompanied by Richard Cheese’s version of ‘Down With The Sickness’ will probably go down as one of my favourite montages for the choice of music alone. I also really enjoyed the cameos from the cast members of the original, particularly Ken Foree who got to repeat his line “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.”

No, the problems with the film are derived from two simple things, the running zombies and the character development. The original film focused on a small group of survivors, allowing their characters to develop and allowing you to care about what happens to them. In the remake the group is simply too large. I found I couldn’t really give a fuck whether they died or not. Actually, the only character I really gave two shits about was Andy and you don’t even see him close up until after he’s joined the legions of the undead.

Now to finish this by just rounding out my views on the running zombies in this film. When it comes down to it, they just aren’t scary. They’re no way near as threatening as the slowly advancing hordes. Maybe it’s because you pretty much always hear their bestial screeching long before you see them. There’s nothing that scary about something which has basically just screeched the zombie equivalent of “I’ll be with you in a second if you wouldn’t mind waiting, thank you very much.” You’d think that an individual runner would present more of a threat than a shambler but I’ve seen a number of shamblers lurch suddenly round a corner to catch someone of guard. The reason being, of course, because they didn’t announce their presence.

This lack of fear doesn’t seem to stretch to all runners though. For some reason the runners in Dead Set did seem genuinely threatening and at times I did find myself a little scared by them even though they made similar noises to the ones in this film. Maybe it‘s down to the way it‘s shot. You barely ever see the zombies up close in this film which just sucks. The kills aren‘t really worth talking about either.

So yeah, even though I had some problems with it, it’s still an undeniably entertaining film, probably more so if you don’t think as deeply about zombies as I apparently do. It’s perfect if you just wanna watch something without really having to engage your brain too much. Three pints out of five.



Zombie Month Repost: Dead Set by Jamie

I don’t know if I’ve made this clear in the past but I’m quite the fan of Zombie films. I’m not sure why. There’s just something mildly appealing about being one of the few last members of a doomed species surrounded by the undead who want nothing more than to consume your flesh. That may seem odd but who wouldn’t want to be one of those survivors, no more of the drudgery of everyday life, going to work and earning a wage but fighting back the shambling hordes just so you could say you survived. Yeah, for me the Zombie Apocalypse is escapism.

There’s also a fantastic sense of hopelessness in zombie films. In the best ones it seems as though once the infection has begun to spread then the fight is already over. The zombies have already won simply through sheer numbers. The infection often seems to be global and it seems as though it’s only a matter of time before the remaining survivors succumb to either a natural or unnatural end. This is why my favourite zombie films are the original Day and Dawn of the Dead. It’s made very clear in those films that the undead dominance is practically total. The same is also true of the absolutely fantastic piece of Zombie-related televisual entertainment I’ll be looking at today, Dead Set.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way right at the outset. Dead Set’s zombies are the runners that are becoming more and more prominent throughout zombie fiction. Whilst still being a zombie purist and preferring the shambling, rotting kind who are no real threat on their own but amass in huge numbers causing survivors to become trapped and ideally turn on each other, I will admit that, when used correctly, the runners can be effective. This was perhaps best demonstrated recently in ‘Zombieland’. Running zombies were perfect for that film because the survivors didn’t spend most of their time trapped in one location. It was essentially a road movie and in that kind of film I can see why the runners would be more effective than the traditional Romero variety.

In Dead Set, the running zombies are effective but for different reasons that Charlie Brooker, the writer of this and all-around genius, has stated himself in response to friendly criticism he received from Simon Pegg, well known slow zombie advocate. Basically the runners are used due to budgetary constraints restricting the number of crowd shots, the need to differentiate itself from Pegg’s own ‘Shaun of the Dead’, and the fact that infection needed to spread quick enough to stop an evacuation of the studio being possible. That last one will make more sense once I get into the actual review which I seem to be having some difficulty in doing. Anyway, to sum up these are all fair enough reasons.

Right, to the synopsis then. ‘Dead Set’ starts off during an eviction night for the reality series Big Brother. Throughout the day there have been reports of massive riots or some such thing occurring throughout Britain but despite the possible ramifications of this, the producer decides to take Big Brother to air as normal. During the eviction, however, something horrific happens and before long the only people left alive are those inside the Big Brother house, unaware of what’s happening outside, a show runner, the producer and the evicted contestant. There are a couple of other survivors but the main focus is really on these and, later on, the show runners boyfriend who is trying to make his way to the Big Brother house.

The show runner, Kelly, soon finds out that the outside world is pretty much devoid of life and decides to make her way into the Big Brother house, what with it being possibly the safest place in the world right now. When she makes it inside the house mates think that she’s a new contestant, albeit a fairly crazy one. When a zombie manages to get in and bites one of them, however, they soon realise the situation they are in.

And that’s pretty much where I’m going to leave the synopsis. I’ll say right now that this really is a must watch. It’s available in all of it’s fantastic five part glory through Channel 4’s YouTube page here. My apologies to people outside the UK. I know how these things often work so I wouldn’t be surprised if you find some kind of content restriction message. You can always buy the region 2 DVD, which I would recommend for anyone if I’m honest. It’s always nicer to have a physical copy of something. There are of course other methods you could employ which I will no way endorse here.

So what makes Dead Set so pants-wettingly brilliant? Well, everything really. The very idea of taking Big Brother and putting a zombie apocalypse around it, is in itself a wonderfully simple idea and allows for all the satire and commentary that the best zombie films are known for. In this case it’s reality TV that’s on the chopping block, obviously, and the culture that surrounds it. All of the contestants are the kinds of twattish stereotypes that Big Brother and it’s generally twattish audience thrive on. From blonde bimbo to flamboyantly gay transvestite, all the archetypes are covered. There’s even that one who’s a little bit stupid but likeable enough that he’d probably never actually win. From what I’ve seen of Big Brother those are generally regarded as background characters who never get much screen time because they aren’t as twattish as their housemates. I need to stop using the word twattish.

What’s interesting is that most of the characters, whilst still retaining may of their stereotypical charactersitics, manage to undergo major developments. For example Veronica, the blonde bimbo character, upon finding out about the zombie apocalypse enquires “Does this mean we’re not on the telly anymore?” but by the end she’s able to come up with a plan in order to take down a zombie lose in the garden. It manages to take what should be a relatively unlikeable cast of people and make you care about them and what happens to them in a way that I imagine Big Brother itself would have trouble doing in two months of programming.

It’s also quite clear that a large portion of the zombies are drawn to the Big Brother house, something which makes sense because most of the people there probably where fans of the show who were turned on the night of the eviction and one of the contestants even muses that they the house was almost like a temple to them in life. This echoes Romero’s ‘Dawn of the Dead’ where it is theorised that the zombies come to the mall due to some fading half-memory of their former life in which they considered it to be an important place for them. In this case the people used to come here to feed on the micro-fame of the people inside the house and now they’re back to feed on them once more, only this time in a much more literal sense.

Of course, you could talk about the satire and social commentary in zombie films until the cows come home and I’m sure people will continue to do so until the inevitable real life Zombie Apocalypse. The most important thing is how is this invasion of the undead portrayed on screen and all I’ll say is that Dead Set does not disappoint. It is exquisitely gory, revelling in the dismemberment of people by the ravenous monsters. Seriously, for a TV mini-series it seems as though absolutely no punches were pulled. You get to see a zombie get it’s head smashed in with a fire extinguisher, a zombie being carved up for bait and British television ‘favourite’ Davina McCall getting her throat bitten out. The whole thing is enhanced by the fucking fantastic sound effects, each squelch and stab being presented in sickeningly, crisp detail. Awesome. Speaking of sounds, I should also say that setting the initial zombie outbreak to Mika’s ‘Grace Kelly’ was an ingenious idea.

Right, I think I’ve spoken enough about this now. If you haven’t watched it yet, find a way to do so and do it now! Five pints out of five. I‘ll be back tomorrow with either a new list, a review of ‘Antichrist’ or the remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ which I‘ve decided to rewatch after my softening on the whole running zombie thing. Laterz.



Zombie Month Repost: Survival Of The Dead by Jamie

Originally posted March 22nd, 2010.

I’m gonna try and not include as many spoilers as possible abut a few things will probably slip out. Also at the end of this review I will be spoiling the ending. I will warn you ahead of it.

George A. Romero is one of my all time cinematic heroes. I’m sure any fan of the zombie genre would say the same. The man essentially created the zombie film genre as we know and love it today when he made ‘Night of the Living Dead’. He followed it up with what may be the pinnacle of the genre, ‘Dawn of the Dead’. The trilogy of the dead was created with the release of ‘Day of the Dead’ and what many thought would be an end to the saga came with ‘Land of the Dead.’ All good movies in their own special ways. Land suffered somewhat from the law of diminishing returns but still, it was a fun entry into the genre.

Then Romero came back with ‘Diary of the Dead’ (You can read my full review of it here) and boy was it disappointing. Fuck, it was far, far more than disappointing. It was fucking atrocious. The acting was terrible, the dialogue was bullshit and the social commentary was way, way over the top. The worst part of the film was that, as much as I love the slow-moving zombies, they don’t work if there aren’t many of them and the characters aren’t holed up in one place. The true fact of the matter is that the slow movers aren’t that big of a threat in small numbers. They are rendered practically pointless.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached ‘Survival of the Dead’, Romero’s latest undead offering. Still, I watched it and the question is what do I have to say about it? Well, I shall answer you question in the form of a haiku:

It is better than
Diary of the Dead but
Still not a good film.

I think that’s a haiku. I’m not entirely sure and I don’t muchly care. If it’s not a haiku then it’s a new form which I’m calling fuku. Yeah, take that. Anyway, that pretty much sums it up. It is markedly better than Diary, though there’s no way that it couldn’t be. The acting is a huge improvement and the story is certainly more interesting. Unfortunately that’s about all the good things that I can really say about it.

Unfortunately this film suffers from one of the major problems that ‘Diary’ also suffered from. The character’s are on the move for the most of the time and there are simply not enough zombies. There is one scene, fairly early in the film, where the characters are all holed up near a dock but it doesn’t last very long and the numbers of zombies that gather could hardly be called a horde.

So what does all that mean? Well, it’s simple. As with ‘Diary‘, the zombies in this film are never really much of a threat and whilst it’s true that the zombies in these films are never the greatest threat, it’s the people you’re stuck with, they should at least provide some kind of genuine danger. This isn’t helped in this film by the fact that most of the zombies are chained up or kept in a stable. It basically neuters the zombie as a monster.

There was another major problem I’d like to get into before I get onto the spoilers. The special effects in this film are fucking atrocious. Sure, there’s some pretty sweet zombie kills but they are ruined by the piss-poor CGI. What the fuck happened to the practical effects that you could revel in and enjoy, knowing that someone had spent hours applying make-up and prosthetics so that they could make it look as realistic as possible? It’s a real fucking shame.

SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ ON IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ENDING OF THIS FILM.

Ok, so the main plot of the film focuses on a feud between the heads of two families on an island. One patriarch believes that the zombies should be completely eradicated whilst the other believes that they should be kept ‘alive’ and essentially domesticated in case a cure for zombism is discovered. To this end he tries to train the zombies to eat things other than humans. And what happens at the end of the film after most of the main characters are dead? We see a group of zombies chowing down on a horse! What the fuck is that? You can’t throw something like that into the film that completely rewrites the very essence of what zombies are! I don’t care if it has to happen so that the over-arching point of the film is made and I don’t care that Romero basically set down what future generations would understand zombies as being! You can’t change the game like that this far in. If zombies suddenly switch from human meat to animal meat then all you’ve done is served to further neuter the threat of zombies! No fucking way.

As for the over-arching point of this film, I’m honestly not sure what it was. That maybe we should try and live as one with the zombie? That’s fucking insane. Romero has always been known for layering his ‘Dead’ films with social commentary but I have no idea what it was supposed to be in this film. I can’t help but feel that he heard all of the criticism about how over the top the social commentary was in ‘Diary’, and it was fucking over the top, and just decided that he was gonna try and keep it as light in this film as possible. Well, this was too fucking light. I know how I must sound after complaining about the weight of the social commentary as being too heavy in one film and too light in the next but come on! This is George A. Fucking Romero for fucks sake! This is what he’s supposed to be really fucking good at.

So yeah, all around I was pretty disappointed by this film. I hate to say it but it looks like George A. Romero’s talent as a director may have died with ‘Diary of the Dead’ then it came back to life and started shambling about aimlessly as it produced ‘Survival of the Dead’. Someone really needs to aim for it’s head and put it down for good. Just don’t ask me to do it. I used to love it too much. Two and a half pints out of five.



Zombie Month Repost: Diary of The Dead by Jamie

Originally posted 16th December, 2009.

I like zombie films. In fact, I love zombie films, in particular I love the classic ‘Dead’ trilogy that came from the awesome mind of the Deadfather, George A. Romero. Hell, I even like ‘Land of the Dead’. It’s a fun entry into the series. Sure, it’s not up to the greatness of those first three but it’s enjoyable none the less and it really only missed one trick and that is that it should have had Bob Hoskins in it. Then it would have been an awesome ‘Super Mario Bros’ reunion. Who wouldn’t have loved that?

So I was looking forward to finally getting around to watching ‘Diary of the Dead’ the latest but one entry into Romero’s zombie canon, if it is indeed canon with the rest of the films. I’m a little unsure of that actually. Let me check… Ok, according to Romero himself, as quoted on wikipedia, the film is basically a ‘rejigging of the myth’. It’s set in present times but takes place in the same time frame as the original ‘Night Of The Living Dead.’ So yeah, I guess it is canon.

Now ‘Diary of the Dead’ is filmed in the handheld style that really took off with ‘The Blair Witch Project’ and generally I don’t get the motion sickness that some people associate with this style of film making but goddamn was this film the exception. After about ten minutes I was feeling extremely woozy and there hadn’t even been any graphic zombie killings up until that point. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly what the hell was so different about this film to cause this kind of reaction in me. It didn’t seem to be any more jittery than any other handheld movie I’ve seen so I’m really quite confused by this. Anyway, I endured and managed to sit through the whole thing. Good for me.

Except not good for me because you know what? I really didn’t enjoy this film, sickness inducing nature of it aside. Maybe it’s because of recent zombie craze, that has been so relentless that even I have begun to grow a little tired of the walking dead, or maybe it’s the other craze of handheld horror films but nothing in this movie seems to stand out. At times it plays out like a goddamn student film, someone trying to do an homage to both Romero’s films and ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Honestly I expected better from the man who pretty much defined the entire zombie genre.

The main problem with this film is that it’s pretty much a road film. The characters are pretty much constantly moving and as such it’s pretty hard for a shambling horde to gather around them. ‘Zombieland’ had a similar problem but had the advantage of being hilarious as well. This is especially a problem for ‘Diary of the Dead’ because these are the traditional Romero zombies, the slow moving undead. Now, I’m a bit of a zombie purist and I will always, always prefer the walking zombies over their running cousins. But in certain films it makes sense for the zombies to run. In ’28 Days Later’ (And yes, I know some people will complain that they aren’t zombies but that’s bullshit. If people can claim that the abominations in ‘Twilight’ are vampires, then I can claim that the so-called Infected are zombies. Oh and I still have a small bit of hatred for this film because in my mind it‘s responsible for the current trend of the running zombie) it made sense because the characters are on the move for most of the film. Same with ‘Zombieland’. In this however, they only ever come across a handful of zombies at anyone time and the slow movers just aren’t a particularly big threat when your dealing with so few of them. I know it might seem cliché these days but give me a small group of survivors, surrounded by hordes of the living dead who slowly turn on each other. That’s what I always considered these films to be about, the fact that it’s not the zombies who are the biggest threat but the other people they have trapped you with. Still, even if they aren’t the biggest, the zombies sill have to be somewhat threatening and in this film, they just aren’t.

Now Romero’s ‘Dead’ films have always included some kind of social commentary. Be it about consumer culture in ‘Dawn’ or the military and science meddling in things it shouldn’t in ‘Day’, there has always been more than just the flesh eating corpses. In ‘Diary’ the messages come thick and fast to the point where it seems as though this is less a zombie film with social commentary but social commentary with a few zombies thrown in. I’m guessing that Romero is pretty pissed of with culture these days, be it the fact that the media doesn’t always tell the truth or that people film and upload everything to the internet these days, keeping themselves detached from reality by putting a camera between themselves and what’s really going on. There were points where it just seemed to get in the way of the movie. The good thing about the older films was that you could watch it on either level. You could take in the social commentary or you could just have fun watching people getting ripped apart by zombies. Basically what I’m saying is that this film isn’t particularly fun.

That being said there were some fun elements in this film. There were some pretty sweet, if poorly computer generated, zombie kills and I kind of enjoyed the English drama professor though that may have been because he was an alcoholic. No, he had a pretty sharp wit about him as well so, yeah, I enjoyed him. There were also a few little digs at the trend of the running zombie which I certainly enjoyed. The best part of this film though is Samuel, a deaf Amish guy who communicates by writing things on a chalk board and throws sticks of dynamite at zombies. That dude was awesome. He even scythed himself in the head a zombie bit him. Hmmm, scythed wasn’t flagged by my spell checker. Who knew it was an actual word? Something else good came out of this movie.

What surprised me most about this film is just how truly paranoid I am about the Zombie Apocalypse. Seems I’ve actually managed to convince myself that it is actually possible and even a bad zombie film can ignite that paranoia in me. For the rest of the night after watching the film, I was sure that every noise I heard that I couldn’t put down to me making was a zombie trying to get into the hotel. The fact that an air conditioner, which I was fairly sure didn’t work, seemed to turn itself on certainly didn’t help.

So there you go. I’d say that ‘Diary of the Dead’ is a fairly poor entry into Romero’s zombie opus. It has a few enjoyable moments and characters but in general there’s not enough zombies and the way Romero really tries to beat you over the head with the messages just distracts from any fun there may have been in this actual movie. Overall it gets two pints out of five, one for some fairly nice zombie kills and one for Samuel, may he find peace in Amish heaven. I just hope it has the internet so he can read this review. Laterz.



Documental: Waiting For Armageddon by Jamie

Ah, religion. Religion, religion, religion. Yep. That’s a thing that happens. I’m sorry but as I know all too well, writing anything about religion on the internet can provoke some fairly extreme reactions from people on all sides of the argument. So it’s once again that I throw myself into this quagmire with a review of ‘Waiting For Armageddon’, a documentary which focuses primarily on fundamentalist evangelical Christians and their views on the coming apocalypse which they see as being imminent.

Now, I’m fairly sure that ever since humans came to understand the passage of life and it’s eventual end, there have been those who have expected to see the end of days in their lifetime and from my point of view, these people are no different. It’s just that, as this movie shows, there are a shit ton of them and they aren’t entirely without political sway. No, it should be said that I think this film was made during the Bush administration when the religious right certainly did have quite a large amount of sway in Washington and I’m not sure what the climate is like now but either way, these are a loud and, to my mind, scary group of people.

That being said, the film doesn’t seem to really take a side though it’s kind of similar to Jesus Camp in that it interviews the people about their beliefs and shows them participating in various activities and largely leaves what the viewer thinks of the issue up to said viewer. Whereas I came away from this disagreeing with most people and their apocalyptic beliefs and the destruction and devastation they’re willing, almost happy, to see take place in order for those beliefs to come true, I’m sure there will be others who already agree with these views to come away seeing it as a documentary which does nothing more than espouse those views. That also being said, much like Jesus Camp, the context of the clips does seem to lean a little more towards my side of the argument. Then again, I could just be seeing it that way because that’s the side of it that I fall on. In other words, I’m confused.

So for anyone who isn’t familiar with the book of revelations, it’s sort of explained in this film. The basic gist is that Jesus is gonna come back and fight the forces of the Antichrist in one major world-ending, pay-per-view event. Jesus is going to be carrying a flaming sword or something and he shall mete out righteous justice and then hit the reset button on all creation, abolishing evil forever. Before this all the righteous Christians will be called up to Heaven so they won’t have to endure the terrible tribulations that will proceed this awesome Holy War which we sinners will have to. The final fight itself shall take place in Jerusalem because if there’s one thing that place needs it’s a massive Holy War. Some Jews will finally accept Jesus as the messiah and the rest will be obliterated and all the rest of us that don’t will suffer a similar fate. I’m not sure whether Hell get’s destroyed with the giant universal reset or not so I’m not sure if I’m due for an eternity of torture or an eternity of oblivion which is what I’m expecting anyway. I suppose that’s kind of beside the point at this juncture. So that’s basically the end of the world according to the various accounts from the people in this movie. In other words Revelations is Jesus’ gritty reboot which, according to the fundamentalists, is long overdue.

Of course, there are a few things that have to take place before this occurs, paramount of which is the destruction of the Dome Of The Rock and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple of Jerusalem. The destruction of the Dome is joked about quite often during a conference at the end of the film ass is, rather disturbingly, God’s “failure” to stop 9/11, the joke being that God didn’t fail to do anything because by definition God cannot fail and so all things occur according to his whim. This means that anything bad that happens, especially with regards to the Middle East or anything even slightly related to it, can be seen as a sign of the apocalyptic prophecies coming true because it’s God’s will.

I couldn’t help but laugh at one particular speaker during this conference. Something about the way he talked about post-modernism and us troublesome atheists just reminded me of the speaker at the police conference in ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’. You know, the one who talks about reefer addicts. Yeah, guy reminds me of him and it tickled me pink.

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the documentary is when a group of evangelicals head of to Jerusalem on a visit and it’s interesting to see their interactions with the Israelis. There’s a sort of grudging politeness. I say grudging because at their heart each one of these people simply cannot respect ‘the other persons point of view. The Christians believe that the only way to get right with God is through Jesus and the Jews just don’t see things this way. The Christians have to be polite and support the Jewish people because if they don’t then they don’t get to see all the sites they consider holy plus they don’t get their Armageddon they’ve so been looking forward too. The Israelis have to be polite and put up with what I’m sure is a lot of evangelising, because these are evangelicals after all, because as one Rabbi puts it ‘We have a phrase called the golden rule. The one with all the gold makes all the rules.’ The same rabbi also claims that if Jesus did exist he was a womanizing sorcerer and has the best line in the film ‘So they believe that Jesus is coming back. We don’t think he’s going to make it a second time.’ Hilarious. Just something about the way he phrases it makes it seem like a threat.

Anyway, this film was pretty good despite it’s rather scary subject matter, it didn’t make me as angry as ‘Jesus Camp’ and there is some fairly interesting stuff in there besides the whacky prophecy stuff. The main thing it highlighted for me was that I just don’t understand religious belief. Maybe it is something genetic or something to do with brain chemistry that makes someone more susceptible to religious thinking (I’m not saying it’s the only reason just something that could make something like that more likely in certain people) but I’ve never believed, even when I was a child being taught all this stuff in primary school. I just don’t have the capacity for it and so it’s one of those aspects of human nature that will always remain a mystery to me. I don’t begrudge anyone their beliefs, they’re just not for me. So yeah, the film gets four pints out of five.



Review: Legion by Jamie

I think I’ve pretty well established that I’m not the religious type on this blog. Still, the idea of religions and their mythologies is an admittedly fascinating topic to me. In the monotheistic religions, the idea various realms of reality warring and trying to one up each other is always an interesting topic to explore. Be it ‘Dogma’ or ‘South Park: Bigger, Longer And Uncut’, the subject has been explored and generally it keeps me entertained. Today’s film, Legion, is yet another to try and tackle this issue.

The basic premise is thus: God has decided he’s gonna get all Old Testament on humanity and wipe our unworthy species from the face of his creation. The archangel Michael (Paul Bettany), commander of God’s army, has decided that he doesn’t want to exterminate humanity and has a sneaking suspicion that God isn’t exactly 100% committed to the idea either. So he falls from heaven, cuts of his wings and decides to join humanity to fight against the angelic horde and to protect an unborn child that he claims will be the saviour of mankind.

The unborn child is currently residing in the womb of a waitress, Charlie (Adrianne Palichi), working in a diner out in the middle of nowhere with her boss Bob (Dennis Quaid), his son Jeep (Lucas Black) and Percy (Charles S. Dutton), a one-handed chef. Also stuck at these diner are a family with car trouble, father Howard (Jon Tenney), mother Sandra (Kate Walsh) and daughter Audrey (Willa Holland) as well as Kyle (Tyrese Gibson), a dude who needs to make it somewhere else for his divorce court hearing… on Christmas… Ho, ho, ho.

Anyway the shit hit’s the fan, the angelic horde descends and the battle is on. Wait did I say angelic horde? I’m sorry, that’s wrong because you only actually see one angel, the archangel Gabriel who has assumed the role left by Michael as the commander of God’s army. The rest of the army have decided that the best way to go about the extermination of the human race is to inhabit human bodies essentially making them kind of zombie-ish creatures that can speak and seem to have enhanced strength. Of course, it makes sense really. It’s not like you’d want to use those wings or anything. Especially as it turns out later on that those wings are bullet-proof and have razor sharp feathers…

Now there are some mildly cool things in this film. The fight scene between Michael and Gabriel is kinda cool, a flashback in heaven in which thousands of angels fly through the sky is kinda cool and a scene with characters on top of a roof firing guns into the crowds of possessed people who have gathered below is reminiscent enough of a zombie movie to get a pass from me. There’s also some pretty interesting concepts taken from Christian mythology. When Gabriel descends to Earth there is the sound of an almighty horn which is apparently meant to signal the coming of the end times. Still the best two things in this film is when a small possessed child cuts it’s thumbs of and a possessed old lady calls Sandra a ‘fucking cunt.’ Any time a seemingly sweet old lady uses that phrase is pretty fucking cool.

Unfortunately it’s all too little to really make this a film that’s particularly worth watching. I mean, seriously, why the fuck do the angels possess people rather than just fight in their angel forms? Do you know how awesome it would have been to have a huge army of angels flying from the skies to attack people below? Instead what your left with amounts to little more than a second rate zombie film.

Also I’d personally have liked to have seen Hell involved in some way. Maybe whilst God’s army was busy trying to wipe out humanity Satan could have gathered his own army and launched his own assault on Heaven and Earth or something. I don’t know. Maybe it would have been too much. Would have been cool though…

Also the plot is really ploddingly slow at times, pretty much to the point where I got bored for a fair while after the first attack and began just surfing the net on my phone until things started to pick up again. There are also some pretty big plot holes. For example, why is this child so fucking important? Seriously, it’s never explained. It clearly isn’t Jesus’ little brother because why would God be sending his angels to kill it? And if this child can redeem mankind, why does God want it dead? I know he’s has indeed gone a bit Old Testament but there’s surely meant to be some kind of element of forgiveness in him. What I’m saying is God’s just a little out of character from the books and films he’s been in before.

Overall there really are just too many problems with this film. Paul Bettany’s pretty good to be fair but if you wanna see him in a better film from recent times then check out the Darwin bio-pic ‘Creation’ instead. He’s fucking awesome in that and it’s an all around better film. Two pints out of Five. Laterz.




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