Cinepub


Review: Angry Birds by Jamie

Ever since the release of Super Mario Bros in 1993, Hollywood has been trying to figure out how to leech off of the popularity of video games. This was particularly troublesome back in the day because most video games didn’t have much going in the way of plot beyond run right, jump and stomp on bad guys. Studios inevitably found themselves having to try and flesh out these threadbare plots to try and put something on the screen for at least an hour and a half so that they could somehow justify calling it a film.

It’s just like the game you remember and love!

Even as the years have gone by and the games themselves have developed more complex and intricate storylines with more fleshed out and developed characters, for some reason the movies that are adapted from them don’t seem to have been able to bring that to the screen. Max Payne was a game widely regarded for it’s storytelling and strong central character but the movie version is a lukewarm piece of shit starring Mark Wahlberg that no one really remembers any more and rightfully so.

Still, video games are massive money makers and with the right property it should be possible to pull of the seemingly herculean task of actually making a video game movie worth seeing. I won’t lie, some of them do seem like they could be promising. There’s the Duncan Jones helmed Warcraft movie which has some potential and an Assassin’s Creed movie starring Michael Fassbender which could be pretty good. And then there’s Angry Birds. Yes, someone out there saw the travesty that was the Super Mario Bros movie and said to themselves “Can we find a game that has even less of a plot than that and make that into a movie? After all, the only thing that matters is brand recognition. As long as the name gets people to put their money on the counter, who gives a fuck if it has literally any story?”

It’s that easy!.

And so here we are, nearly a quarter of a century later and we find ourselves faced with a movie based on a video game that most people spend five minutes playing at a time while sitting on the toilet. What is the plot of the game? Some pigs steal some birds eggs. The birds want them back. FIne, that’s a perfectly fine and simple setup for a quick little physics puzzle game. I’ll even go so far as to say that it could make a fairly decent basic of a plot for a movie maybe. But the problem is that by adapting that story from a video game, you suddenly find yourself restricted by the rules of that video game. This means that you have to reference things that the video game has in it. For example, one of the characters in The Angry Birds Movie is called Bomb. When he’s upset, he explodes. It’s as simple as that (or it would be if he actually exploded the many, many times he should surely be upset during this film, but I digress). Why does this happen? I dunno. This is perfectly fine as a mechanic for a video game that you’re not meant to put too much though in to. At the end of the day, if the object of the game is to knock down structures and kill pigs, does it matter if it’s an exploding bird or an actual bomb? No. No it does not. But when it’s a talking, emotive character in a movie then there should be some kind of reason? Why do some of these birds have super powers? Why do some of them not? Why did someone decide to make Angry Birds into a movie? These are all questions which probably should be answered.

There are other problems too. Early in the movie, Red, the main character, is sent to an anger management therapy where he meets the previously mentioned Bomb and the small yellow bird named Chuck. Neither of these two actually seem particularly angry. Chuck is literally just fast and Bomb’s only problem is his exploding which generally seems to happen when he is startled rather than infuriated. Why are these two in anger management? Fuck knows. Because Red has to meet them somehow I guess?

Ok, so maybe I’m thinking a little too much about what is ostensibly a children’s movie. Sure, I can understand that and perhaps you’re right. Perhaps the most importnat thing when you really get down to it is whether or not the movie is entertaining. The answer, unsurprisingly, is no. There aren’t really jokes in this movie. Just things happening and then people reacting to them often with a phrase that’s popular at the moment. You know, the kind of timeless humour that will really, really play well in a few years time. And there’s a few jokes sprinkled in for the adults throughout although they are mostly pretty weak such as a book on the pigs ship being called “Fifty Shades of Green.” That kind of thing. In fact, there were maybe two jokes that made me laugh throughout the whole film. One was the line “Something isn’t kosher with these pigs.” and the other was when Red insinuated that another bird looked like he may be a kid abducting paedophile. Hehehehe. Children’s movies. Ok, I’ll admit, Peter Dinklage might have gotten a smile out of me as the Might Eagle but I couldn’t tell you if that was because of the movie or because I thought of Tyrion.

Finally, there’s the message of the movie. Red doesn’t trust these foreigners who have shown up on his land and his ingrained mistrust of strangers is proven to be correct. It turns out that these weird people from a strange land don’t want to be friends! They just want to eat the natives children! Vote Red, 2016. Make Bird Island great again.

Again, I know I’m probably coming down too hard on a piece of shit fluff movie that’s just meant to keep kids entertained for an hour and a half. But there are movies that prove that can be done well and with thought and passion and craft. Movies like How To Train Your Dragon or Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs or, you know, most of Pixar’s catalogue. People deserve better than someone assuming that you’ll cynically pay to see a move just because they recognise the name of it. Your children deserve better than that too.

½ pint out of five for that paedophile joke. Hehehehe.

The Angry Birds Movie



Found Footage Friday: Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County by Jamie

After the horror that last week’s inaugural entry into this feature left me with, I decided I’d go back to a little film that I first saw in the early 2000s. It was a different time and I was a very different person. I was young, idealistic and a fucking idiot. Why do I cast such aspersions on young me? Well I used to believe in everything paranormal. Ghosts, bigfoot, chupacabra. You name it and I believed in it. Hell, the only thing that I didn’t believe in was God and it was only as I explored scepticism through the internet that I came to be the rational individual I am today. Much of this blind belief in the supernatural came from growing up in a very specific time when a cultural juggernaut dominated the air waves. That juggernaut was a show called ‘The X-Files’ and because of it an entire generation grew up to believe in all kinds of crazy bullshit. And the area that interested me the most was the subject that also made up the core of the shows over-arching major plot: alien abduction.

Because of the popularity of the X-Files, supposed “real life” aliens permeated the culture of the 90s. It seemed as though every other day there was a special about the Roswell incident or alien abduction. In 1998, a full year before the ‘Blair Witch Project’, a little show called ‘Alien Abduction: Incident In Lake County’(AKA Alien Abduction: The McPherson Tape) aired. It purported to show actual footage of a family Thanksgiving dinner interrupted and terrorised by visitors from another world. When it hit, there was major debate about whether or not the footage was actually real and apparently this discussion still goes on today in some dark corners of the internet despite the fact that it ends with credits which include a cast list and Emmanuelle Chriqui (who plays Renee) went on to some success including playing Adam Sandler’s romantic interest in ‘You Don’t Mess with the Zohan‘ and appearing in ‘Entourage‘. I will say for my own part that I never believed the tape was real even in my silly less sceptical days. Still, that didn’t mean that it didn’t creep young me the fuck out.

The film begins with a family sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner whilst Tommy (Kristian Ayre) films it all. Suddenly the family experience a power cut and so Tommy and his two elder brothers, Kurt and Brian, head out to investigate. From there, shit goes down. And that’s as much synopsis as you’re getting from this time because there’s a very special surprise for you at the end of this review. If you’re wondering if it’s the entire film, then well done, you’ve spoiled the surprise. Arsehole.

Anyway, let me just say before you go watch it that yes, the acting is bad. The special effects are awful and there’s a weird pixilation effect that comes up every time the aliens are on screen, I assume to try and obscure just how bad the costumes are. There are also these terrible talking interviews which pop up and are unintentionally hilarious such as when one guy ascertains that this is not a fake because the people are clearly not actors. It almost feels as though he’s critiquing the film for you. And then there’s this guy, the greatest guy in the history of found footage films relating to alien abduction:


 

My God. Amaze-Balls. So yeah, anyway, despite how bad almost every aspect of this film is, it still holds a special place in my heart. It reminds me of a simpler time when my world was full of mystery. Stupid, stupid mystery. So enjoy Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County and I’ll see you next week for more full found footage review. Not sure what it’ll be yet but I’m sure it’ll be horror related. Gives me the fear just thinking about it… D’you know what I mean?


 



2011 in Film: Number 1: Season of the Witch by Jamie

Spoilers ahead.

Starting a new little project on this blog and going to try and watch every film released in 2011 (at least as listed on Wikipedia) and as luck would have it, I must begin with a Nicolas Cage film. Now normally I like to do a video review of Cage’s films but I’m having some technical issues in that department so I have to resort to something barbaric like typing out the words with my fingers rather than speaking them with my mouth parts. Enough of my problems, on to the review!

The film opens during the crusades which were apparently fought by quipping Americans who may or may not be trying to do English-esque accents. I honestly can’t tell if Nicolas Cage is trying speak with an English accent and just failing or if it’s just the way his voice goes when he’s trying to speak in somewhat faux Olde English. Ron Perlman, on the other hand, doesn’t even seem to bother and honestly, his performance is more enjoyable because of it. Anyway, the two Crusadery chums are hacking their way through battles, killing for God and drinking with wenches and just generally having as good a time as two knights can. After a while though, they come to the realisation that they aren’t just killing deserving infidel warriors but also women and children too. They decide that enough is enough and leave the Crusades and go on the run as deserters.

So they find themselves wandering around medieval Europe. What are they doing? Well, that’s never really explained. Probably going from village to village and righting wrongs where they can. That’s the ind of shit that righteous outlaws are always doing from Robin Hood to The A-Team. Anyway, they come across a kingdom blighted by the plague where they are recognised and arrested. However they are given a holy quest by a plague-ridden Christopher Lee (in one of the more bizarre cameo appearances in film history). The quest is to deliver an alleged witch to a monastery where a rite will be performed that will remove the curse of the plague. Cage is reticent to sign up and work for the church again but ultimately relents in exchange for a guarantee that the accused witch will receive a fair trial and that he and Perlman are given full pardons.

They are accompanied on their quest by a priest, the unfortunately named Debelzaq, a swindler/merchant named Hagamar, another knight whose own land has been ravaged by the plague, causing him to lose his daughter, named Ulrich and a young aspiring knight Kay. They set off and, honestly, not much actually happens on the way. There’s a few deaths and few things which are possibly meant to make you wonder if the girl actually has supernatural powers or not whilst actually makes it pretty fucking obvious that she has supernatural powers. What happens could best be described as dude gets stabbed, there’s a rickety bridge on which no one dies, some demon wolves and then bam. They’re at the monastery.

There are bad things afoot at the monastery however! Apparently the plague has struck there too and it’s down to Debelzaq to try and perform the rite to sort out the witch. But bad things are afoot inside the girls body! It turns out that she’s not a witch at all but she is, in fact, possessed by bad CGI Satan! So any chance of this being in anyway interesting is almost immediately lost, any hint that maybe the girl wasn’t supernatural and was perhaps just crazy is instantly gone (though they would have had to explain a shit lot of the stuff that happened earlier if they had gone that route). What we’re left with is a final battle between our main cast and some poor special effects. Ugh.

So where exactly did this film go wrong? Well, there’s the cheap look which renders everything just a little unbelievable, the poor writing and somewhat stilted acting but the biggest problem is the constant shift in tone. This film doesn’t know what it wants to be. Does it want to be a buddy action comedy? A psychological thriller? A straight up supernatural horror? Don’t get me wrong, tonal shifts in movies can work but not when they seem to be happening every time there’s a scene change. It’s just comes off as jarring.

Was there anything good about the film? Well, this isn’t the worse that Cage has been and he isn’t exactly bad at playing the repentant, world-weary warrior but you can’t help but feel a little disappointed that Cage isn’t playing it a little crazier given the setting. Also Perlman’s entertaining but he’s taken being entertaining in cheesy bullshit and turned it into an art form.

At the end of the day those two points aren’t really enough to recommend the movie to anyone really. I will say that there are entertaining moments but they are very few and far between and most of them are quite near the beginning of the film. Overall I can’t in good conscience give this more than one pint out of five. Laterz.



Review: The Avengers (AKA Avengers Assemble) by Jamie

This review is spoiler-free.

For around five years or so now, Marvel has been laying the groundwork for what many had hoped would be the greatest comic book movie event of all time. I speak, of course about The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble as it’s known here in the UK so that our simple British minds don’t confuse it with the Patrick Macnee starring series from the 60s of the same name).

From Iron Man in 2008 all the way up to Captain America last year, everything has been leading up to this and the question on everyone’s lips was could a film of this magnitude, bringing such a wide cast of characters, possibly live up to the hype?

Well, the answer in this humble comic book and movie geek’s opinion is an emphatic yes. I don’t think it could be a more emphatic yes if I had taken some kind of emphatic-enhancing drug that gave me powers of emphacy far beyond that of a mere mortal man. Is emphacy even a real word? I don’t give a fuck. That’s just how emphatic I am.

So where to begin with a film that I find hard to express in words the level of awesome that it was? Well one of the major advantages that this film has over other comic book films is that it doesn’t have to waste much time explaining any of the characters origins. It starts assuming that you’ve seen the films that preceded it and so get’s on with the job it’s there to do, dealing with the origins of the team itself which is a far more entertaining kind of origin story due to the interplay of the characters involved.

This interplay is where much of the humour in the film comes from. This is undoubtedly a Joss Whedon film. It’s as witty as any of his work before and he once again proves that he is possibly one of the best directors going when it comes to putting together an ensemble cast and making it work. Some of the characters do get a little less to do than others, Hawkeye and Maria Hill for instance, but as a whole it’s incredibly well balanced.

There is one character who does stand out and nearly steals the show, the big green bastard himself,
The Hulk. On his surface The Hulk is a deceptively simple character. Mild mannered scientist gets mad and turns into a giant jade rage monster. It’s Jekyll and Hyde for the modern age. Most portrayals of Bruce Banner have played the tortured and tormented aspect of the character to the fullest but Mark Ruffalo does something a little different with him. Yes, he is still haunted by the green spectre of his other self but this is a Banner who’s been living with this for a good few years now and seems to have somewhat accepted his curse, even being able to control it somewhat, and can banter wittily with Tony Stark with the best of them. He also seems to be somewhat glad to have found a place for himself amongst the other Avengers whilst still being rightfully afraid of what his alter-ego would do if he emerged hundreds of feet in the sky on the Helicarrier.

The rest of the actors are all on fine form as their respective characters as well. Tony Stark is still his arrogant, funny self whilst still seeming to have matured a lot since his first film outing. Captain America is still coming to terms with being a man out of time, finding himself frequently frustrated by the phrases and technology around him and perhaps even a little freaked out by Agent Coulson’s hero worship of him. Thor is the same Thor we saw at the end of his film, a little more humble and a little more understanding of humanity whilst being conflicted about his brother’s treachery. And Loki is still as greasy and Machiavellian as he’s always been.

It’s the two main SHIELD agents who perhaps get the most revealed about them. We finally see the people that Nick Fury has to answer to and just how much he is willing to disobey them and just how far he is willing to go to prove his team worthy. Black Widow is also far more fleshed out here than she ever was in Iron Man 2 and we are given several hints about her dark past and her ties to Hawkeye.

Speaking, as I was, of The Hulk and the Helicarrier earlier, it’s probably good to mention the effects here. They are, in a word, incredible. The Hulk looks like he’s there and actually looks like the actor portraying him. Every CGI shot in this film is beautiful and just helps to build a believable world where these characters could exist and these events take place. As for the 3D, it’s good as post-conversion jobs go but doesn’t really add anything to the experience. There’s also the issue of the glasses making things kinda difficult to make out when scenes take place in dark places.

The only real weak spot in the entire film is Loki’s army and the story itself. The army are really nothing more than an obstacle for the heroes to fight and smash and the story is your basic alien invader story but for once, that doesn’t really matter. What’s important here isn’t so much the story but the things that surround that threadbare story skeleton. The meat is the characters themselves, their interactions and how they grow individually and together over the course of the films 143 minutes running time.

Well, that’s about all I have to say without getting in to spoiler territory. If you enjoy comic books, comic book movies and in particular the Marvel movies that have come before this go and see it. Go and see it now. If you are working, scream I quit at the top of your lungs, walk out and see it. I’m sure once you explain your actions later you’ll be able to get your job back. Just see it. Five pints out of five. Laterz.



Halloweak: Cheerleader Autopsy by Jamie

I have just finished watching what may be the worst film I have ever seen. And that really is saying something. I’ve seen ‘The Room’, ‘Troll 2’, ‘Birdemic’, ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ and ‘Battlefield Earth’ but at least they had some redeeming features. They were all, in some way enjoyable. They fall into the category of film that can be described as being so bad that they are good. It is fun to watch them just because they are so bowel-shatteringly awful and the important thing to remember is that each film takes themselves completely and utterly seriously. Cheerleader Autopsy doesn’t fall into this category. It falls into the so bad, it’s bad category and one of the reasons for this is because it’s intentionally trying to be funny and as far as horror comedies go, it makes yesterday’s entry, ‘Horny House of Horror’ look like Shaun of the Dead.

So what makes Cheerleader Autopsy so painfully unfunny? Is it the crude, incredibly lowbrow humour that includes a close up of someone hacking of their own penis (is every film I review this week going to involve some form of genital mutilation?), pressing down just above a dead girls corpse to make a jet of water shoot from her vagina and a hillbilly mistakenly shooting himself in the head when he thinks there is something wrong with his gun? No, I generally consider myself to be quite immature but these jokes just weren’t hitting home. I think what it may have been was the constant stream of immature and gross out humour. I think back to the films that I love which have quite a high level of what could be considered juvenile humour, such as the films of Kevin Smith, and the reason I’ve enjoyed them is because whilst they do have that level of immaturity, they are well written and always have something else going on in them as well, something substantial that raises the level of the film as a whole. Cheerleader Autopsy is poorly written, cramming as many stupid jokes in as it can within it’s short (but seemingly excruciatingly long) 73 minute run time and it has nothing of substance to fall back on.

So what is the plot of Cheerleader Autopsy? Well, that’s kind of like asking what is the meaning of life. There could be many interpretations but the question itself is practically unanswerable. There’s a cheerleader team called the Stinkwater Beavers (oh, the hilarity!), they get killed, there is a mental mortician who also happens to be the sheriff of the town and his nephew who works as his assistant. The mortician has another assistant who’s a bit socially retarded because he has a small penis (he’s the guy who chops off his own in order to attach a larger member from a body that’s brought in) and now that I think about it, I think there’s only one actual autopsy… although I suppose the film isn‘t called Cheerleader Autopsies so far enough. Oh and there’s jokes and hints about necrophilia and eating the brains of foetuses littered throughout. Now that I think about it, maybe it is the crude humour that makes this suck. I mean, eating the brains of foetuses? I’m a man who regularly makes jokes about paedophilia and even I think that’s going a bit too far.

Of course, the humour can’t be completely held responsible here. There’s also the terrible acting, terrible editing, terrible sound, terrible camera work, terrible picture quality and terrible everything. If you’ve seen Birdemic, imagine all of these things being a fraction better than that and yet Birdemic still remains the far more enjoyable film. Look, I’m really sick of thinking about this film and I’ve got a pub quiz to get ready for. Time to get completely drunk. To sum up just imagine you had a really stupid friend with a camcorder and a worrying level of access to a number of Real Dolls. The result would be something like this film. To further sum up, just watch the damn trailer. 0 pints out of five. Laterz.



Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon by Jamie

After a few weeks of blip.tv issues and painfully slow internet connections, I finally present the Cinepub drunken video review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYLOlwQA%5D



The Cinepub First Annual Obligatory Xmas Season Top 10 Christmas Films That I Enjoy To Like! by Jamie
22/12/2008, 1:53 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, it’s that time of year again. People are roasting their nuts on open fires, toy companies a greedily stroking their chins in manners befitting their evil geniusnous and children are pissing themselves in the laps of creepy strangers wearing false beards. Merry Christmas!

It seems as though this is a blog about films and as such I am pretty much required by law to do a list containing my favourite Christmas movies of all time. I managed to resist doing a list of scary films at Halloween but I’m afraid I just can’t fight the mainstream on this. I fear that if I do, my blogging licence will be revoked and I’ll be forced to go back to not making money doing other things and I can’t have that.

So let’s begin shall we?

10) Santa Claus: The Movie

Since my first Christmas I’m fairly sure I’ve seen this Saint Nick biopic every damn year. (Though that’s impossible as it was released a year after my first Christmas but I digress) The film begins with Santa Claus gaining magical powers for he is the chosen one. The film ends up with Dudley Moore playing an elf teaming up with John Lithgow playing an evil business tycoon for some reason. Awesome!

9) Ernest Saves Christmas

Ernest P. Worrell featured quite heavily in my early life for some reason. In particular I remember two films, Ernest Scared Stupid and Ernest Saves Christmas. Since I can’t put Ernest Scared Stupid on this list I’m gonna have to put Ernest Saves Christmas on this list. The film tells the story of Ernest’s mission to find a replacement for Santa who’s getting close to retirement. In no way is it a fantastic film but it ain’t The Santa Clause and that counts for something.

8 ) Home Alone

Another one from my childhood. For some reason I may have seen this film more than any other film that has ever or will ever exist. It just always happens to be on for some reason. Either my brothers watching it, my cousins watching it or someone else is watching it and, having nothing better to do, I end up watching it too. You know the plot. Hell, you’ve probably seen it a thousand times too.

7) The Muppet Christmas Carol

A telling of the Charles Dickens’ story starring the loveable cast of the Muppets and the loveable aged cockney, Michael Caine. Particular pieces of awesome: Statler and Waldorf as the ghosts of Marley and Marley, Kermit and Piggy as Mr and Mrs Cratchit and an awesome Ghost of Christmas Future. As long as Future looks enough like Death in a Christmas Carol movie then I’m sold.

6) How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Yes, the animated TV special, not the one with Jim Carrey. Sprung forth from the surrealistic mind of Dr. Seuss and narrated by Boris Fucking Karloff. It’s the classic tale of a hairy green freak who wants to stop Whoville from enjoying Christmas only to have is heart grow three times that day. Man, I’m hungry for roast beast.

5) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s Christmas time at the Griswold’s and every body is coming to stay! Nothing goes smoothly, every little event working it’s way tirelessly and relentlessly to ruin Clark’s dream of a perfect Christmas. Every second of this film have things going from bad, to worse to uber-bad and it’s all very, very funny.

4) Scrooged

Another retelling of Dickens’ story, this time starring William Murray. This film modernizes the story as bastard television producer Francis attempts to make his own live version of the story only to have the events within it happen to him. As I said before as long as they have a good Ghost of Christmas Future I’m sold and in this film motherfucker is the Grim Reaper with a TV for a face. Awesome.

3) Lethal Weapon

It’s the greatest buddy cop movie ever made and also a damn good Christmas film. Ok so maybe it’s technically not a Christmas film but it’s set at Christmas time so it counts. Riggs is a cop with nothing to lose and Murtaugh is just getting’ too old for this shit. The film culminates with Riggs spending Christmas at the Murtaugh household so it definetly counts.

2) Die Hard

This is possibly the greatest action movie ever made and it’s a shame what the franchise has become but thankfully the knowledge that Die Hard 4.0 exists cannot take away from the awesome that is this film. I still feel tense watching certain parts of it, no matter how many times I watch it. This one also feels a lot more Christmassy than Lethal Weapon so it gets extra points for that.

1) Gremlins

Ah, what can I say about Gremlins that hasn’t already been said? Did you ever get a dog for Christmas? Then the dog got wet and more dogs sprouted out of his back? And then when the new dogs ate after midnight they turned into ravenous reptillian wolves? That’s kinda like this film but with mogwai and gremlins instead of dogs and wolves. There’s plenty of fun here as the titular characters just generally cause mayhem on Christmas night. They dress up as carolers, attack Santa Claus and kill an old woman! Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas!




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