Cinepub


Murder Week: Salvation Boulevard (2011) by Jamie

Quite by accident, I ended up watching a number of films that all seemed to revolve around the worst crime a human being can commit that doesn’t involve touching children in inappropriate ways. So I’ve decided that, hell, I might as well review ’em and make a theme week out of it. So yeah, murder. It’s something that humans are pretty good at. There are those out there that would say that humans are especially evil being the only species that kill their own kind. To that I’d say that Black Widow Spiders and Praying Mantises would have a number of arms to raise in objection to that. Hell, we’re not even the only species to go to war.

Still, there’s something which fascinates us about this darker side of human nature. The fascination with death is probably only second in the human psyche to our fascination with sex. It probably comes with being, as far as we know, the only species that is fully aware of our mortality. It’s why we created myths to ease the fear of death. The fact that we could comprehend that we were alive made it hard to accept that one day everything we were would come to an end, hence we came up with the idea of the afterlife. This idea was then taken by the ruling classes of several different societies and cultures in order to keep the peasants in line. Just work hard and do as you’re told in this life, and you’ll get rewarded in the next. Its Marx’s opiate of the masses, if you will. And so it is that we come to today’s film, Salivation Boulevard, a comedy-thriller-religious satire from 2011. Yeah, that’s right. All that build up was for the review of a little known comedy film. I’ll admit, the opening got away from me a bit there.

The most notable thing about this film is probably the cast. Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, Jim Gaffigan, Ciarán Hinds. Hell, that’s a fairly impressive list of pretty solid people. So how was it that this thing slipped through the cracks and ended up with a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes?

Well, to be fair, it’s just not that great of a film. To be fair I don’t think it’s really 21% bad but it could have done so much more with the premise. The basic set-up is that Pierce Brosnan plays Pastor Dan Day, the head of a Mega Church in a small town in Western America. He’s beloved by the community, in particular former Deadhead turned Christian Carl Vandermeer (Kinnear) and his wife Gwen (Connelly). The Mega Church that every obedient follower of the Lord could want, including a daycare centre with colouring books featuring Pastor Dan’s smiling face. Yes, the people of the town pretty much worship Dan as much as they do a 2000 year old Jewish Carpenter Zombie and the film isn’t particularly subtle about it, at least at first.

After Dan engages in a spirited debate with atheist Dr Paul Blaylock (Harris), he and Carl head back to the professor’s office for a night cap. One thing leads to another and the Pastor accidentally shoots Blaylock in the head. Fearing that the shooting will put his plans for a new Christian community that he plans to build in jeopardy, he tries to pass off the shooting as an attempted suicide whilst also trying to silence Carl. “Hilarity” ensues and all manner of madcap mix-ups and misunderstandings occur.

The main problem with the film is that it never quite balances its genres. It feels like it could have been a decent enough comedy about a man wrongly accused of a crime or a decent religious satire but in trying to combine the two, the final product is a bit of an unsatisfying mess. It’s the religious satire aspect, in particular, that really seems to suffer. It just never seems to go beyond the fairly obvious. Also I was a little disappointed that Pastor Dan actually seems to believe in the product he’s selling. Yes, he’s using that belief to gain and profit for himself but it’s pretty clear that he’s a believer himself and he suffers a great deal of guilt over what he’s done. Not enough to come clean but still, it tortures his religious soul. Personally, I feel it would have been better from a satirical viewpoint to have Dan simply pay lip service to Christianity in order to get what he wants. Sure, that might have been obvious too but it could have been a little more biting.

Perhaps the oddest thing in the whole film is Pierce Brosnan’s accent. It starts of as one thing and ends up something like an Australian accent and I honestly have no idea why. Honestly, it’s just bizarre. Why not just have him using his normal, British accent if he’s not going to play an American anyway? It’s possible it’s inspired by Australian Ken Hamm, director of the Creation Museum and a man whose choice of facial hair leaves him looking far more like a product of an evolutionary process he insists didn’t happen.

This man certainly didn’t evolve from apes…

So yeah, I kinda had high hopes for this film. The subject matter put it firmly in my wheel house and I thought that maybe it might be a nice little treasure that I could appreciate even if the critics didn’t but sadly I was disappointed. There were a few moments where I did laugh out loud and Kinnear puts in a great, believable performance as poor put-upon Carl but as a whole the movie just leaves you wishing it had been so much more. Two pints out of five. 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.



The Depress-A-Thon: Jesus Camp Repost by Jamie

Well it’s time for a look back to an old post that I wrote some time last year as The Depress-A-Thon steam rolls ever forwards. It’s a film that I found both terrifying and depressing when I watched it. That film was Jesus camp. Enjoy.

I’ve previously written about Threads as being the single most depressing thing mankind has ever put to film. There is one film, however, that always threatens it’s position. Hell, it’s the film that was in my mind when I came up with the title for my documentary reviews, Documental. It doesn’t manage to take that title away from Threads though, simply because depression isn’t the overriding emotion that I feel whilst watching this film. In fact it’s a sickening cocktail of anger, hatred, fear and depression. Good times are ahead.

The film follows Becky Fisher and her “army” of god made up of children who seem to range between ages 5 and 13 as they spend the summer at a camp in Missouri and the various japes and shenanigans that they get up to like having seminars where they teach children that a child is fully formed in the womb after seven weeks or having them all pray to a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush. It’s very much a case of ‘Hello Mother, Hello Father, Here I Am At Camp Retarded!’

What’s probably the most disturbing accept of this film is the fact that Fisher seems to want to teach the children to die for Jesus much in the same way that people are taught to die for Allah in Islamic fundamentalist training camps. In fact, there seems to be even a hint of admiration for these terrorist groups and even a kind of remorse that America doesn’t have a Christian alternative. Worst of all is that the children seem amenable to this philosophy. There’s even a point where one child emphatically states “I feel like we’re kinda being trained to be warriors, only in a much funner way. Like I don’t feel the sense of afraid to die in battle or anything like you would if you were actually going off to a war in the physical. There’s a peace with it all too. There’s an excitement at the same time too, it’s really cool.” Keep in mind that child saying this is a 9 year old little girl.

She’s one of two real main children that you really follow through the film and certainly the one I feel most sorry for. There’s a scene where she talks about how the other kids tease her at school but she doesn’t care. After all it’s God who’ll be judging her, not her schoolmates or as she puts it “Man’s decision–whatever! God’s decision–Something.” There’s a sense of sadness and loneliness about her, however, that seems to suggest that under all the indoctrination and religious fervour she’d maybe like to be a normal girl with friends.

The other main child in the film is Levi. He doesn’t have the sense of sadness that Rachael does which is probably due to the fact that he’s home schooled so he’s probably the spared the torment of being bullied because of his extreme faith. In fact you see a bit of what this home schooling entails. His mother is telling him, essentially, why global warming is a lie, that real teaches would call him stupid for believing in creationism, that creationism is the only possible answer to all the questions and the real gem that comes near the end of the scene in which she asks “Did you get to the part on here where it says that science doesn’t prove anything? And it’s really interesting when you look at it that way.” Excuse me for one moment.

Sorry about that, I feel much better now. Well, I don’t really but I have to get through this. Now, I’m an atheist but the average Christian is fairly inoffensive, rarely forcing their views on anyone else and I’m always happy to enter into spirited debate with these people after which we can agree to disagree and have a pint together. There are occasions when I have made the unfortunate decision to debate with fundamentalists. This no longer happens as I’ve developed a kind of fundamendar, like gaydar except the fundamendar would like to have gaydar banned. I can quite easily spot them now because there is one major sign. The average fundamentalist will have an odd sense about them, you get the feeling straight away that something isn’t right. Then you look in there eyes and you hit on what it is. There’s a vacancy there, a sort of glossed over look like they’ve switched off part of their brain and are using a lot of their processing power to keep it switched off. The cause of this is that they are. They’ve become so steeped in this worldview that it takes over their life completely and all other things are completely meaningless apart from the will of their magic sky daddy. They are, however, still human so the urge for rationality and reason is always there and it takes a lot to keep this basic human need for inquiry completely suppressed. This vacant look is present throughout this film.

There is some humour within this film, albeit unintentional. The film features one Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (at the time), giving a sermon about what the bible teaches about homosexuality and actually making jokes about one of the documentary team being unfaithful to his wife. If you don’t understand why this is funny, please refer yourself to this old video which I made years ago. Please excuse the typos:

So there you go, Mr We Have The Bible To Tell Us About Gays was having gay sex with a male prostitute whilst doing crystal meth. Bravo sir, bravo.

Other highlights throughout this film include Becky telling the chilren Harry Potter would be killed in Old Testament times, yelling at them for being all hypocrites in the eyes of God until they break down in tears, begging for forgiveness, several scenes where the adults lead the children in screams of “This Means War!” and “Righteous Judges!” plus much, much more.

I really have a love hate relationship with this film. I enjoy watching it even though it really, really pisses me off. I’ve watched it more times than I can remember. Maybe I just like getting angry. Perhaps the weakest point of the film is the moderate Christian radio host who’s kind of used as a framing device. I suppose he’s there to provide context and a counterweight to the extreme fundamentalists just so the film makers can say ‘See, we’re not saying all Christian’s are bad, just these ones.” Still, I suppose he’s not too intrusive and so overall I’ll give this film three and a half pints.

Laterz.



Documental: Jesus Camp by Jamie

I’ve previously written about Threads as being the single most depressing thing mankind has ever put to film. There is one film, however, that always threatens it’s position. Hell, it’s the film that was in my mind when I came up with the title for my documentary reviews, Documental. It doesn’t manage to take that title away from Threads though, simply because depression isn’t the overriding emotion that I feel whilst watching this film. In fact it’s a sickening cocktail of anger, hatred, fear and depression. Good times are ahead.

The film follows Becky Fisher and her “army” of god made up of children who seem to range between ages 5 and 13 as they spend the summer at a camp in Missouri and the various japes and shenanigans that they get up to like having seminars where they teach children that a child is fully formed in the womb after seven weeks or having them all pray to a cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush. It’s very much a case of ‘Hello Mother, Hello Father, Here I Am At Camp Retarded!’

What’s probably the most disturbing accept of this film is the fact that Fisher seems to want to teach the children to die for Jesus much in the same way that people are taught to die for Allah in Islamic fundamentalist training camps. In fact, there seems to be even a hint of admiration for these terrorist groups and even a kind of remorse that America doesn’t have a Christian alternative. Worst of all is that the children seem amenable to this philosophy. There’s even a point where one child emphatically states “I feel like we’re kinda being trained to be warriors, only in a much funner way. Like I don’t feel the sense of afraid to die in battle or anything like you would if you were actually going off to a war in the physical. There’s a peace with it all too. There’s an excitement at the same time too, it’s really cool.” Keep in mind that child saying this is a 9 year old little girl.

She’s one of two real main children that you really follow through the film and certainly the one I feel most sorry for. There’s a scene where she talks about how the other kids tease her at school but she doesn’t care. After all it’s God who’ll be judging her, not her schoolmates or as she puts it “Man’s decision–whatever! God’s decision–Something.” There’s a sense of sadness and loneliness about her, however, that seems to suggest that under all the indoctrination and religious fervour she’d maybe like to be a normal girl with friends.

The other main child in the film is Levi. He doesn’t have the sense of sadness that Rachael does which is probably due to the fact that he’s home schooled so he’s probably the spared the torment of being bullied because of his extreme faith. In fact you see a bit of what this home schooling entails. His mother is telling him, essentially, why global warming is a lie, that real teaches would call him stupid for believing in creationism, that creationism is the only possible answer to all the questions and the real gem that comes near the end of the scene in which she asks “Did you get to the part on here where it says that science doesn’t prove anything? And it’s really interesting when you look at it that way.” Excuse me for one moment.

Sorry about that, I feel much better now. Well, I don’t really but I have to get through this. Now, I’m an atheist but the average Christian is fairly inoffensive, rarely forcing their views on anyone else and I’m always happy to enter into spirited debate with these people after which we can agree to disagree and have a pint together. There are occasions when I have made the unfortunate decision to debate with fundamentalists. This no longer happens as I’ve developed a kind of fundamendar, like gaydar except the fundamendar would like to have gaydar banned. I can quite easily spot them now because there is one major sign. The average fundamentalist will have an odd sense about them, you get the feeling straight away that something isn’t right. Then you look in there eyes and you hit on what it is. There’s a vacancy there, a sort of glossed over look like they’ve switched off part of their brain and are using a lot of their processing power to keep it switched off. The cause of this is that they are. They’ve become so steeped in this worldview that it takes over their life completely and all other things are completely meaningless apart from the will of their magic sky daddy. They are, however, still human so the urge for rationality and reason is always there and it takes a lot to keep this basic human need for inquiry completely suppressed. This vacant look is present throughout this film.

There is some humour within this film, albeit unintentional. The film features one Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (at the time), giving a sermon about what the bible teaches about homosexuality and actually making jokes about one of the documentary team being unfaithful to his wife. If you don’t understand why this is funny, please refer yourself to this old video which I made years ago. Please excuse the typos:

So there you go, Mr We Have The Bible To Tell Us About Gays was having gay sex with a male prostitute whilst doing crystal meth. Bravo sir, bravo.

Other highlights throughout this film include Becky telling the chilren Harry Potter would be killed in Old Testament times, yelling at them for being all hypocrites in the eyes of God until they break down in tears, begging for forgiveness, several scenes where the adults lead the children in screams of “This Means War!” and “Righteous Judges!” plus much, much more.

I really have a love hate relationship with this film. I enjoy watching it even though it really, really pisses me off. I’ve watched it more times than I can remember. Maybe I just like getting angry. Perhaps the weakest point of the film is the moderate Christian radio host who’s kind of used as a framing device. I suppose he’s there to provide context and a counterweight to the extreme fundamentalists just so the film makers can say ‘See, we’re not saying all Christian’s are bad, just these ones.” Still, I suppose he’s not too intrusive and so overall I’ll give this film three and a half pints.

Laterz.



Review: Terminator Salvation by Jamie
Review: Terminator: Salvation
Disclaimer: Spoilers have been avoided, where possible but some might have slipped out here and there.
Terminator: Salvation is a very difficult film to review. I can adequately judge whether or not it lived up to my expectations because, in all honestly, I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were. I knew going in that this would be substantially different than any other Terminator film, dealing as it does with the post-Judgement Day war rather than time travel, and so all the film really needed to do was show a few major battles between humans and robots and I probably would have been sated. Did the film deliver on this? Not quite.
The film does deliver on special effects, for the most part, with massive explosions, giant robots and the classic skeletal Terminators. There’s even an appearance from a CGI Arnie, a scene which I couldn’t help but smile at. There are massive explosions, robo-bikes and air raids galore but it seems to feel as though there’s much more show than substance here.
A great example of this is pretty much the whole first half of the movie. There’s plenty of action sequences with giant robots and flying machines but the whole thing seems boring. In fact, my biggest complaint about the film as a whole is that it seemed to take a damn long time to get into. Seriously, how do you fuck up so badly that you make robots blowing shit up boring?
Another thing that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about is the fact that neither John Connor or Kyle Reese are the main character in this film. That goes instead to a new character named Marcus Wright. Ok, so here comes a spoiler… kind of. To be honest if you haven’t worked this out fairly early on in the film for yourself then you’re a moron. Marcus is a cyborg. Human brain, human heart, robot/human hybrid nervous system and a Skynet chip attached to his brain. His storyline is basically the same one that we’ve seen in things like Battlestar Galactica and even, to some extent, Terminator 2, what does it mean to be human? Is it your birth/creation that defines you or is it your actions? It’s an interesting concept to be sure but it’s explored so much better in the previous two examples for one simple reason. Marcus Wright has a human brain ergo he’s a human. Simple as. Oh and is human heart, is a very strong, powerful heart. Trust me, that’ll be important later.
Marcus also brings about what is, in my opinion, the worst special effects in the film. Part of his face is blown away revealing the metallic skull beneath and it just looks shit. I can’t exactly place my finger on why but it looks so strange and unrealistic and far, far worse than similar effects in the first two films. I don’t understand why it was so difficult to pull it off. I guess it just goes to show yet again that sometimes physical effects are more effective in certain situations than computer-generated ones.
Christian Bale is pretty much Christian Bale in this, playing the part well though in some scenes he just seems to be going through the motions. Anton Yelchin is pretty good as Kyle Reese though he doesn’t really have that much to do past the halfway point of the film and, despite my general dislike for the character, Sam Worthington was pretty good as Marcus Wright. Perhaps the worst actor was Common who thankfully only had a small part. Seriously Hollywood, not all rappers need to become actors. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most of them don’t. Seriously.
So to sum up, first half fairly boring, picks up in the second. Story is pretty much lacking as is character development but it’s probably still better than you’re average summer blockbuster mindless action flick and I can pretty much guarantee you it’ll be better than Transformers 2.  At least I could tell what was going on during the action scenes (except for the opening one. That one seemed almost Bay-esque.) Overall I think it’s worth a watch just for the second half and CGI Arnie. That was pretty fucking awesome. Now I’ll finish this review with some minor gripes that’ll make much more sense once you’ve seen the film.
Ok, why do the Robo-Bikes have a USB port and why are they constructed so that someone would be able to ride them? Why is it that, despite it being a dark, grimy future everyone has impeccable teeth? How come a bunch of people can stand in the middle of SkyNet’s command post without being swarmed by Terminators? And why is it that John Connor doesn’t realise that if Kyle Reese is killed before being sent back in time, Judgement Day won’t happen? Sure John, you won’t be born but then a Terminator won’t be sent back in time to stop Kyle and Cyberdine will never find the chip and design SkyNet in the first place. Damn, Terminator time travel logic fucks my mind. Laterz.
Disclaimer: Spoilers have been avoided, where possible but sometimes, they just can’t be.

Terminator: Salvation is a very difficult film to review. I can adequately judge whether or not it lived up to my expectations because, in all honestly, I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were. I knew going in that this would be substantially different than any other Terminator film, dealing as it does with the post-Judgement Day war rather than time travel, and so all the film really needed to do was show a few major battles between humans and robots and I probably would have been sated. Did the film deliver on this? Not quite.

The film does deliver on special effects, for the most part, with massive explosions, giant robots and the classic skeletal Terminators. There’s even an appearance from a CGI Arnie, a scene which I couldn’t help but smile at. There are massive explosions, robo-bikes and air raids galore but it seems to feel as though there’s much more show than substance here.

A great example of this is pretty much the whole first half of the movie. There’s plenty of action sequences with giant robots and flying machines but the whole thing seems boring. In fact, my biggest complaint about the film as a whole is that it seemed to take a damn long time to get into. Seriously, how do you fuck up so badly that you make robots blowing shit up boring?

Another thing that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about is the fact that neither John Connor or Kyle Reese are the main character in this film. That goes instead to a new character named Marcus Wright. Ok, so here comes a spoiler… kind of. To be honest if you haven’t worked this out fairly early on in the film for yourself then you’re a moron.

Marcus is a cyborg. Human brain, human heart, robot/human hybrid nervous system and a Skynet chip attached to his brain. His storyline is basically the same one that we’ve seen in things like Battlestar Galactica and even, to some extent, Terminator 2, what does it mean to be human? Is it your birth/creation that defines you or is it your actions? It’s an interesting concept to be sure but it’s explored so much better in the previous two examples for one simple reason. Marcus Wright has a human brain ergo he’s a human. Simple as. Oh and is human heart, is a very strong, powerful heart. Trust me, that’ll be important later.

Marcus also brings about what is, in my opinion, the worst special effects in the film. Part of his face is blown away revealing the metallic skull beneath and it just looks shit. I can’t exactly place my finger on why but it looks so strange and unrealistic and far, far worse than similar effects in the first two films. I don’t understand why it was so difficult to pull it off. I guess it just goes to show yet again that sometimes physical effects are more effective in certain situations than computer-generated ones.

Christian Bale is pretty much Christian Bale in this, playing the part well though in some scenes he just seems to be going through the motions. Anton Yelchin is pretty good as Kyle Reese though he doesn’t really have that much to do past the halfway point of the film and, despite my general dislike for the character, Sam Worthington was pretty good as Marcus Wright. Perhaps the worst actor was Common who thankfully only had a small part. Seriously Hollywood, not all rappers need to become actors. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most of them don’t. Seriously.

There are some good things to be said for this film though, paticularly in the second half. Things really begin to pick up and the T-800 series of Terminators is finally brought to life. I also really like the previous model, the T-600’s who seem to ahve rotting or melted flesh on their metal skull. They are also a little bulkier than their sleeker brothers and lumbering killer robots are always cool. There’s also some nice nods to previous films such as utterances of classic lines like “Come with me if you want to live,” and “I’ll be back”, the afforementioned CGI Arnie and a brief snippet of “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. Very nice.

So to sum up, first half fairly boring, picks up in the second. Story is pretty much lacking as is character development but it’s probably still better than you’re average summer blockbuster mindless action flick and I can pretty much guarantee you it’ll be better than Transformers 2.  At least I could tell what was going on during the action scenes (except for the opening one. That one seemed almost Bay-esque.) Overall I think it’s worth a watch just for the second half and CGI Arnie. That was pretty fucking awesome. Oh, and it’s still better than Terminator 3.  Now I’ll finish this review with some minor gripes that’ll make much more sense once you’ve seen the film.

Ok, why do the Robo-Bikes have a USB port and why are they constructed so that someone would be able to ride them? Why is it that, despite it being a dark, grimy future everyone has impeccable teeth? How come a bunch of people can stand in the middle of SkyNet’s command post without being swarmed by Terminators? Where the fuck were the skeleton strewn streets that we’d seen in previous Terminator films? And why is it that John Connor doesn’t realise that if Kyle Reese is killed before being sent back in time, Judgement Day won’t happen? Sure John, you won’t be born but then a Terminator won’t be sent back in time to stop Kyle and Cyberdine will never find the chip and design SkyNet in the first place. Damn, Terminator time travel logic fucks my mind. Laterz.



Review: He Was A Quiet Man by Jamie
17/11/2008, 8:59 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bob Maconel (Christian Slater) is an office worker, a faceless drone in a sea of many. His cubicle is his prison, his supervisor is his tormentor and his moustache is shit. There is one ray of sunshine in his otherwise meaningless life, Vanessa Parks (Elisha Cuthbert) whose smile lights up the office. Sure, she doesn’t know his name and he certainly has no chance of ending up with her but that doesn’t matter that much because Bob won’t be around much longer for Bob has a plan.

Bob is sick of his life and the way others treat him and so he brings his gun in to work with plans to kill his five most hated co-workers before turning the gun on himself. Unfortunately he chickens out and upon returning home is immediately berated for his cowardice by his pet goldfish. Yes, it seems as though Bob’s mental health problems don’t stop at depression alone.

The next day Bob tries again and as he’s loading the bullets into the chamber he accidentally drops one. Whilst he searches on the floor for it, another co-worker suddenly shoots up the office. Bob stands and turns his gun on the assailant after they both notice that he has accidentally shot Vanessa in the spine. Bob is hailed as a hero and is instantly promoted to Vice President of Creative Thinking. Meanwhile he begins to develop a relationship with Vanessa who has become a quadriplegic due to the shooting.

It is from this twist of events that most of the films very, very dark humour is drawn. The remainder displays Bob pretty much becoming a fully fledged human being over night without ever fully managing to fulfil that role. Conversely, Vanessa, who had stepped on many and slept with more just to get where she was in the company, suddenly finds herself lost and helpless, isolated from the world which had once embraced her.

It is a funny film though, tinged as it is with darkness and despair, it’s never really laugh out loud funny. Perhaps the closest it ever comes to this is whenever Gene Shelby, President of the company, played brilliantly by William H. Macy is on screen. Some have said he was under used though I think he played as big a part as the story necessitated.

Christian Slater is also on form here, playing the mentally disturbed Bob with aplomb though he is helped by the make-up department which transforms him into a tired, balding office nobody. It really is the physical acting, though, which makes Slater’s performance shine. Bob never seems comfortable in his own skin, always wringing his hands or grasping his fingers.

Elisha Cuthbert is also fantastic as Vanessa, someone who seems determined to make her way in life even if that means asking someone else to end it for her. She’s paralysed for most of the film and so most of her emotion is displayed without any kind of body language, making the scenes where she’s trying to explain to Bob how she feels that much more touching as the acting is almost all in the eyes.

The rest of the cast is filled out ably by a host of other actors who I don’t recognise, though wikipedia informs me that one of the detectives in the film is played by one of the dudes in the Bohemian Rhapsody scene in Wayne’s World which is awesome. For the most part the rest of the cast are pretty much stereotypes. You’ve got your bullies, your office slut and your deranged janitor. All par for the course.

The last thing I will say about this film are the surreal elements, all brought on by Bob’s own psychosis. There is the aforementioned talking goldfish, a scene in which Bob imagines the office tower blowing up, hummingbirds flitting happily outside his home and the odd effect of the traffic around Bob zipping by him as he drives at normal speed amongst many, many others. They all serve to help the viewer emphasise with how Bob perceives his life and it works amazingly well. Especially the fish. He’s awesome. If you ever wanted to hear a fish say “Fuck ‘em” then this is the film for you. Seriously, that fish swears a lot.

The film does have a downside though and it’s called the last act. Everything seems to change at such a rapid, con fusing pace that it’s easy to lose track of exactly what drew you into this film in the first place until your left with an ending that feels kinda unsatisfying. That being said I feel as though you should at least rent this. Then if you enjoy it you can make it a permanent part of your collection.



Great Scenes From Shit Films, Part 2: The Wizard by Jamie

In 1989 a strange creature was unleashed upon the world, a strange hybrid beast, not quite an advert, not quite a movie. It starred a young Christian Slater, a younger Fred Savage and that dude who’s in lots of things. You know the one I mean, whatshisname. Yeah, him. The “film” was called the Wizard and it’s best known for being the western world’s introduction to Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the best selling video games of all time.

I don’t think I need to tell you that it’s terrbile. Well, not terrible… fucking awful may be a better description. Filled with Nintendo games, Father/son bed sharing, the first appearance of a young Tobey Maguire and the odd paedophile joke thrown in for good measure, the film tells the unfollowable story of Jimmy, a little kid who is retarded in some way but is really good at Nintendo games like Rain Man if he was sponsored by a large Japanese electronics industry giant.

Something bad is going to happen to Jimmy for some reason and so his brother, Corey, breaks him out of the care home he lives in. Jimmy wants to go to California and to do that they need money so Corey decides to pit Jimmy against middle aged buisness men, who haunted the arcades back in the late 80s, for money. Jimmy wins, they get cash. They meet Haley, a street smart girl from a poor family and make their way across the USA.

Meanwhile Corey’s brother and father are trying to track them down as is Putnam, the villain/comic relief, a private investigator hired by Jimmy’s mother and step-father. God just writing this is making me angry. Blah Blah Blah, video game contest, blah blah blah, funky tie, blah blah Mario 3, blah blah blah Dinosaurs from Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

The important scene in this film is one in which the characters meet up with LUCAS! LUCAS! is the Nintendo God of his quiet desert town. He owns all the NES cartridges, is awesome at all of them and he has a secret weapon. Something so awesome that to gaze upon it is to break down in tears, shit your pants and know that there is a God, thy name is LUCAS! What is this holy Nintendo relic? The Power Glove, of course. With it LUCAS! shall surely crush all who dare defy him! It comes in a case with his fucking name on it! Seriously, how do you out-awesome that?

Now, if you’ve ever actually used the Power Glove you know it’s a total piece of shit, unresponsive in every regard of the word. Though it does apparently allow you to land the plane on Top Gun, something I failed to do as a kid with a normal controller. Still the fact that the Power Glove is played up so much in this singular scene makes it that much funnier. So enjoy and I do reccomend the actual film to be honest, I love the Wizard. It’s so bad.




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