Cinepub


31 Days Of Horror 15: ParaNorman (2012) by Jamie

So it seems as though I’m still on my nice little animated break from the blood, guts and gore of your more traditional horror fare but this one at least has something more Halloweeny about it than Monsters University what with it’s Zombies and ghosts and witches and such.

ParaNorman is the tale of a young boy named Norman who is obsessed with zombie movie and, it just so happens, can see and speak to the spirits of the dead. He lives in a town that’s only claim to fame is a witch trial some three hundred years prior. The witch it seems placed a curse on those who tried her that would mean that they would rise from their graves, doomed to have their souls trapped in undead bodies for all eternity. Norman comes to learn that this legend actually has a basis in fact and, due to his special ability, it will soon be his responsibility to see that the curse goes unfulfilled for another year. Will he succeed or will the accursed undead rise from their rest?

Well, I should think the answer to that is pretty obvious or else there wouldn’t be a movie. and a movie there is. A rather enjoyable movie as it turns out and one that I’m happy to see doesn’t feel the need to talk down to kids. It’s a movie that realises that you don’t have to talk down to kids. You can make jokes about sex and violence because kids are already making the same jokes on the playground. One character whilst getting Norman to keep a promise by asking him to swear to which Norman responds “You mean like the F word?” These are the kinds of jokes that I can appreciate. Jokes that remind me of my childhood when I heard kids say shit in The Goonies or Elliot call his brother penis-breath in E.T. It’s stuff kids don’t need to be sheltered from because they already know it. It’s honest.

There’s also a pretty good message at the heart of this film, the message of acceptance. Yes, that you should always be accepting of others no matter your own prejudices or fears but also acceptance of the fact that some people just won’t like you, they’ll be dicks to you but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a dick back.

All in all this was a pretty funny and thoroughly enjoyable film. If I have a complaint it’s that it kinda lags a touch in the middle where the talking to ghosts conceit seems to be all but abandoned for a while but it makes up for it with a pretty strong beginning and ending, some nice horror references to things like Halloween and Friday the 13th and by being one of the best looking stop-motion films I’ve ever seen. Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

ParaNorman_poster



Review: Movie 43 by Jamie

There will come a time in human history when we’ll have to look back on what we’ve done collectively as a species. Genocide, global warming, war… There’s a lot we have to feel guilty about is what I’m saying. And now, thanks to Peter Farrelly, we have a new atrocity to add to that list in the form of a steaming cinematic turd named ‘Movie 43’. Jesus fucking Christ, I don’t even now where to begin.

Ok, so this movie has two versions. Living in the UK, I saw the one released here which involves three teenagers trying to find the eponymous Movie 43, the most banned film in the world because watching it will lead to the destruction of the world somehow. During their internet search they come across several vignettes which make up the bulk of the film. The really shocking thing and the reason that this film has gotten any exposure at all, rather than being left on the trash heap of cinematic history as it so rightly deserves, is that for some reason this film stars actual people that you’ve actually heard of. I mean real famous actors like Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Halle Berry and many, many more. I don’t know why these people agreed to be in this. Maybe they thought they’d get to seem like they had a sense of humour or that they’d be perceived as being edgy in some way. I’m sure that the fact that these were shorts meaning they could be done relatively quickly also helped to convince a few of them in some way.

To say that this film is not funny would be like saying…. I don’t know. There isn’t anything I can compare it to which will properly convey how funny Movie 43 isn’t. It’s like comedy got cancer and people were actively preventing a cure from being found. It is to comedy what the vacuum of space is to human survival.

The majority of the sketches focus on some form of gross out, politically incorrect or absurd premise which can make for some great comedy. Here, though, it’s just terrible. The reason? Everyone is trying so desperately hard to be funny. It’s like those fucking ‘Insert Genre Here’ Movie movies and parody films like them where they’re afraid you might not get the joke so they hammer it hard leaving you with absolutely no doubt what it is that they are trying to parody. At least with those movies the joke is pretty quick and moves on to the next thing. With Movie 43, whole segments revolve around one joke and they hammer it so hard that all that’s left at the end is the joke’s smashed corpse and nobody is laughing.

For example, Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet’s segment is about the fact that Hugh Jackman has balls on his neck. That’s the joke. It’s like the filmmakers saw ‘Men In Black II’ and decided the Ballchinian deserved something more than the few seconds he got on screen. GAHFUCKINGFUCKITYFUCK!

Excuse me. Look, don’t see this movie. If you somehow end up in a situation where you have to choose between this and suicide, well, I mean you should probably just watch this because it’s only an hour and forty minutes long and suicide is forever but if you’re the kind of person who finds themselves in that kind of situation you probably deserve it. I can say there was one moment that elicited a chuckle from me and that was when Emma Stone says “He was a Wizard!” in response to some asking her about sucking off a hobo for magic beans. It’s really more her delivery than the script though. Man, Emma Stone is great. Ok, this seems to be devolving in to some stream of consciousness thing so I’m just gonna rate this thing and get the fuck out of here. I give this film I have only ever given once before. This film gets Unicum, Hungary’s national drink, out of five. If you’ve ever tasted Unicum then you know why. Laterz.

Movie 43 Can Go Fuck Itself



Review: How To Train Your Dragon by Jamie

I’ve tried to stay away from spoilers but there are still a couple of things which people may consider to be a little spoilerish.

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of dragons. I’m assuming this is probably some kind of extension of my lifelong love of dinosaurs. There’s just something fascinating about the giant, mythical reptile beasts with their leathery bat-wings and their propensity for igniting their breath. Yet despite the fact that some kind of dragon legend or other permeates almost every culture on Earth, dragons on the big screen have always been a little hit and miss.

From the crap like D-War and Eragon to the pretty good like Reign of Fire, there’s never really been a dragon film that stood out. Well, I suppose there was ‘Pete’s Dragon’ but in terms of ‘realistic’ dragons, there’s never been anything great. I should probably define that term ‘realistic’ dragon. I mean something that makes somewhat sense biologically, with a slight hint of suspension of disbelief for things like flying, occasionally speech and fire-breathing, but something which looks like it could possibly exist without a ridiculous number of magical powers. That’s why Pete’s Dragon doesn’t count in this definition and Draco from ‘Dragonheart’ does.

So it was with some apprehension that I decided to watch ‘How To Train Your Dragon’. I’ll say that I watched in 2D because a) My last experience with 3D with ‘Clash of the Titans’ was so piss-poor that I’d rather just watch things in 2D and b) I think maybe 3D doesn’t work for me as well as it does for most people. Maybe it’s because I wear glasses, maybe it’s because I need to have my eyes tested again and get better glasses. I’m not sure but 2D is fine for me anyway.

Also, yes, I know this is based on a book. No, I haven’t read the book. From what I understand the film is quite different from the book in that the film has more of a mature edge. Right, that’s that out of the way. Let’s get on with the review.

So, ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ concerns the story of a young Viking named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel), the son of Chieftain Stoic The Vast (Gerard Butler) and the village’s local fuck-up. In their particular clan it’s generally seen that the best thing you can be is a great and mighty Dragon Slayer. Sadly, due to the fact that he is a bit of a fuck-up, it seems as though Hiccup will never achieve such glory. However during a Dragon raid on their village, he manages to use a special bolas machine he has invented to take down the legendary Night Fury, a dragon so rare and that flies at such great speeds that no one has ever actually seen one. Of course, no one believes Hiccup and so he goes to the forest where his target crashed in order to prove himself to everyone.

Unfortunately when he finds the dragon it turns out that he’s only ensnared it in the giant bolas rather than actually kill it. He is about to stab it and cut out his heart but finds he pities the creature, sensing it’s fear and decides to free it instead. The dragon takes off into a valley, a valley that Hiccup finds that the dragon can’t get back out of because the bolas has damaged his tail and he isn’t able to fly properly anymore. Hiccup manages to gain the beasts trust by feeding it fish and gives it the name Toothless due to it’s ability to retract it’s teeth back into it’s gums. He slowly begins to train domesticate the dragon, inventing a kind of prosthetic tail-fin to enable it to fly again and allow him to control Toothless whilst riding him.

Whilst this is going on back in the Village, Hiccup is being trained to be a Dragon Slayer with his peers, braggart Snotlout (Jonah Hill), frantic fraternal twins Tuffnut (T.J. Miller) and Ruff nut (Kristen Wiig), nerdy Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and the object of his adolescent fantasies Astrid (America Ferrera). This training is carried out by the awesome Gobbler The Belch (Craig Ferguson), a Viking who’s run in with dragons in the past have left him with a metal leg and an arm which he can screw various different tools into including, most awesomely, a mead tankard. If I ever loose a hand, I’m so getting a tankard attached to my stump.

Anyway, to begin with Hiccup isn’t particularly great during these lessons but as time goes on, he gets to learn more about dragons from his experiences training Toothless. He uses these things to basically tame the dragons in the training pens in a similar manner and soon the Vikings think he has some mystical affinity with the beasts.

I’ll leave the plot discussion there for now. I don’t particularly want to give away the ending except to say that things happen on an incredible scale and it’s amazing to watch, especially compared with that fucking confusing Kraken from ‘Clash of the Titans’. (Though admittedly, the trailer below gives it away a little).

Let’s start of with the look of the film. It’s fucking amazing. Some of the scenes with the dragon in flight are some of the most incredible things I’ve seen in a CGI animated film and I’m even gonna include ’Avatar’ in that. It truly is beautiful and there are times when there are literally hundreds of dragons on screen and it’s truly a magnificent sight. I also really love the design of Toothless. He’s somewhat reminiscent of an axolotl and everyone loves axolotls. They rule. It’s a nice departure from something strictly lizard-esque though still recognisable as something close to the classical image of a dragon.

It’s also genuinely funny and it completely avoids any pop cultural references (Though you could say the little arena where Hiccup must fight a dragon looks a bit like the thunder dome for Mad Max 3) which have become the hallmark of the somewhat lacklustre recent ‘Shrek’ films and non-Pixar CGI films in general. Every piece of humour works perfectly well and consistently within the context of the films medieval/fantasy world. I’ll also say that this is probably the first family film that I’ve ever seen that contained the phrase “Breast Hat” and for that alone it must be applauded.

The actors providing the voices are all really quite brilliant, delivering believable performances. Perhaps the most enjoyable, besides Hiccup himself, was Gobbler played by Craig Ferguson. He managed to deliver just enough humour but also seemed to care for Hiccup in a way that his father really didn’t seem to. Speaking of his father, Stoic played by Gerard Butler , I was really surprised by this performance. Butler seems to have a more convincing emotional range in this then he’s ever had in any film where he’s actually appeared on screen. I honestly hope he does more of this kind of film because he was really, really good in it.

There is one thing that did seem a bit odd. Why is it that all the adults in this film have Scottish accents whilst all the children have American accents? I mean that’s odd on it’s own but aren’t these people supposed to be Vikings? Shouldn’t they all be talking like the Swedish Chef or something? No, no that’s stupid. I apologise. I suppose it’s fine the way it is… Just a bit odd is all…

Anyway, if I had to compare this to any other recent film of this type, I suppose I’d say it’s most like ‘Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs’. In fact the underlying emotional story is pretty similar. Both films are essentially about sons who want nothing more than their fathers approval and trust. I think that that particular story element is probably explored a bit more fully in ‘Cloudy…’ but in terms of overall enjoyment I think ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ just beats it for me personally. Maybe it’s just my natural love for all things Draconian. Four and a half pints out of five.



Review: Kick Ass by Jamie

Every once in a while a film comes along that defines where we are as a shared culture in the Western world. ‘Kick Ass’ is not that film. ‘The Dark Knight’ possibly is. A grim, pessimistic comic book film about a terrorist loose in a major city and the heroes who seem almost powerless to stop him. Though ‘Kick Ass’ is not that film, it is still fucking awesome.

There, I’ve pretty much shot my load already and revealed exactly what I thought about this film. Go see it and thanks for stopping by… No, I suppose we should get further into it. Ok, so ‘Kick Ass’ is about a guy who thinks the same thing that I’m sure most superhero fans have thought throughout their lives, why is it that no one has decided to dress up and just be a superhero? Unfortunately the sad fact is that people have already decided to do that and I’ll let you judge just how ‘super’ they are from this news clip:

Despite that the premise is still solid. Dave Lipetsk (Aaron Johnson) is the character who has this thought and, one wetsuit purchase from eBay later, becomes the titular superhero Kick Ass. He doesn’t have any superpowers to speak of, just his disguise, a couple of clubs and an ambition to help those in need. Naturally things don’t go well and, on his first attempt at stopping crime, he is stabbed and hit by a car landing him with six weeks in hospital, metal reinforcements to his skeleton and damaged nerve endings which allow him to take beatings a little better. He also makes the medics who take him in to promise not to tell anyone about his costume leading to people believing he was found naked which then leads to a rumour being spread around his high school that he is gay. Sounds bad but it actually allows him to get closer to the girl he’s always had a crush on, Katie (Lyndsy Fonseca), who has always wanted a gay friend.

As the film goes on Kick Ass really becomes more of a secondary character and the plot focuses more on Damon Macready (Nicolas Cage) and his 11-year old daughter Mindy (Chloë Grace Moretz) who take on the personas of costumed vigilantes Big Daddy and Hit-Girl in order to take violent revenge on Mafia Boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong). And by violent revenge I do mean violent. Limbs fly, shotguns are fired directly into heads at point blank range and all manner of other marvellously over the top deaths are portrayed on screen. Make no mistake, Big Daddy and Hit-Girl make this fucking film.

I’m not gonna go much further into plot for fear of spoiling the film for those who haven’t seen it. So let’s just focus on a few of the details, performances and even the controversies surrounding this film. Let’s begin with that man I’ve certainly had my fair share of problems with in the past, Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage is really doing annoyingly well these days and fair play to him. It’s annoying because it makes continuing on with my video series ‘Cage Rage’ talking about how terrible Cage is really difficult. That’s two films now that Cage has been awesome in lately, this and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Seriously Nic, what the fuck? You’re the only actor I know who does better films when he’s desperate for money.

So what of his actual performance, I hear you ask. Well, let’s just say that he manages to make you believe that he is a character who is clearly abusing his child through the way he is bringing her up in order to be a lethal, tiny assassin and yet he really, truly loves her. It’s just that his world view has been so warped by the events that have occurred that the only way he really knows how to express his love is by raising his daughter in this fashion. Also when in costume he does a brilliant Adam West-esque voice that is a joy to sit back and watch. Also I can see myself quoting the line ‘Oh Child, you always knock me for a loop!’ for some time.

Now to the most controversial character in the film, Hit-Girl as played by Chloë Grace Moretz. Yes she’s an eleven year old, yes she slices and dices villains with incredible ease and yes she utters the word ‘Cunt.’ Now a certain film reviewer in a certain British newspaper (Christopher Tookey of The Daily Mail) has also made certain claims that the film sexualises this 11 year old. Frankly I can help but be somewhat concerned about Mr Tookey if he was in anyway sexually aroused by this little girl in the least sexual superhero costume I’ve ever seen on a female character from comics. He also mentions that the girl also appears dressed in a school girl outfit with pig-tails. Dear God! Someone of a school going age wearing a school girl outfit! Someone alert the people who deal with this sort of thing!

He also mentions the mental abuse that Hit Girl goes through at the hands of her father. Well, Mr. Tookey, might I point out some examples of Superhero’s doing this sort of thing to younger sidekicks throughout the entire history of comics. Green Arrow and Speedy, Captain America and Bucky and perhaps the most popular superhero duo who have been gracing the comics since 1940, Batman and Robin. You’re really going to tell me that Bruce Wayne taking the freshly traumatised Dick Grayson under his leather wing and putting him in harms way on a regular basis isn’t tantamount to some kind of child abuse. Kick Ass is just as much a commentary on that stalwart of the genre as it is an entertaining action flick.

It manages to pastiche and reference the world of comics throughout it’s running time which makes sense given the nature of the film. When Kick Ass first begins training for his new role as a crime fighter there are several direct references to the first ‘Spider-man’ film where Peter Parker is first experimenting with his powers. One scene in particular stands out. Remember that scene where Tobey Maguire becomes a weird computer game character and begins leaping from roof-top from roof-top? Well, Kick Ass is about to do the same thing, running right up to the edge of the roof before stopping and deciding not to go through with it. There’s even references to ‘Scarface’ and the original Tim Burton ‘Batman’ film. It’s a geeks dream.

It is most important to remember though that the characters in ‘Kick Ass’ aren’t just carbon copies of characters we’ve seen in other comic book films. This isn’t ‘Superhero Movie 2’. The characters are actually well-rounded, well written and each have genuinely engaging and believable motivations for the actions they take. It’s kind of a spoof of the comic book genre in the same way that ‘Shaun Of The Dead’ was a spoof of the zombie genre. Yes it’s taking a few pot-shots at the genre but it’s lovingly done and with an actual story and actual characters. And that’s why you should go an see it. Four and A Half Pints out of Five. Laterz.




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