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Depress-A-Thon: Threads Double Repost by Jamie

Well, unfortunately there was just too much to get on with at work last night for me to find a spare moment to finish writing the list of my favourite Sci-fi villains. I did manage to get half of it done and plan to have it up tomorrow. Instead it’s time for another repost in the Depress-A-Thon, this time dedicated to the film which truly scarred my soul, ‘Threads’. I’ve decided to stick the two occasions which I’ve written about ‘Threads’ together since the original review was a little shorter than I remembered.

So included below is the part the bit I wrote about Threads for my top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Films List (Which can be found here: Part 1, Part 2) and, after the video, the original review entitled “Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.” Enjoy.

1. Threads

Cause Of Apocalypse: Nuclear War.

Yes, for number one I’m going a little obscure. It’s a made for TV British film that I’ve reviewed before and it’s truly fucking chilling. The acting is corny, it’s incredibly 80s, scratch that, it’s incredibly Northern England 80s and it’s a little slow to start but fuck, after the bombs drop, it’s just… Wow.

This film portrays what life would have been like if the US and Russia had decided to launch nukes at each other and what would have happened had England been completely ravaged by nuclear bombs. I’m sure that a few of the things that are described aren’t considered exactly scientifically accurate these days but I’m also sure that it’s still as close as I’ll ever see a film get to the truth.

This film essentially put me into a sort of mini-depression after watching it. It made me feel doomed, as though at any moment the world could come crashing to a halt if a small group of people wished it so. Keep in mind that the Cold War had been over for some time at this point. Seriously though, there doesn’t need to be a cold war for it to happen anyway. All it takes is a few buttons being pushed and then Boom. Life as we know it will be over. The lucky ones will die in the initial attacks. Oh, god. It’s happening again. Just thinking about this fucking film is bringing it all back. What the fuck is the point?

Still, if you feel that happiness is a commodity that you just don’t need in your life anymore, I heartily recommend ‘Threads‘. It’s incredible and horrifying. Oh god, why? Why?

Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Man Kind Has Ever Put To Film.

I love post-apocalyptic films and games. Despite the harsh existence that the people living in the post nuclear war landscape have to eke out, they always seem fun, especially something like Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome or Fallout 3. So I decided to buy and watch the DVD of the BBC’s 1984 nuclear war drama, Threads. Spoilers ahead.

The synopsis promised a realistic look at what would happen if Britain were suddenly struck by nuclear weapons launched by then biggest threat to the Western World, the Soviet Union. I know what the effects of a massive nuclear launch would be, so I wasn’t expecting to be shocked by anything on screen. How wrong I was.

Let me start off by saying never ever watch Threads. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliantly made drama, especially for the time it was made but if you ever want the possibility of happiness to be present in your life ever again, then you really should watch a Mad Max movie instead. Seriously, I think I may have killed joy by viewing this.

The story follows two families in Sheffield, one working class and one middle class. The two families are linked by the fact that the son of the working class family has gotten the daughter of the middle class family pregnant and they have become engaged to be wed. The first forty-five minutes follows their everyday lives whilst highlighting the fact that tension between the US and the Soviet Union are growing due to military movements by both sides in the Middle East.

The film is also interspersed with narration and text that highlights the fact that Sheffield would be a prime target for nuclear strike due to it’s economic value as a producer of steel and chemicals and it’s proximity to a US Air Force base. These little pieces of information continue to mount the tension as relations between the US and the Soviet Union continue to become increasingly strained.

Then the main event occurs. Britain is essentially nuke raped by the Commies. Sheffield itself is devastated, with buildings being flattened and bodies turned to ash in seconds and the pregnant girl‘s fiancée is killed. There are some who have built shelters but the film makes it perfectly clear that the radiation will destroy those peoples futures. Hooray!

The film then follows what happens to the survivors during the years following the nuclear strike. Nuclear winter sets in meaning that during the day illumination remains at twilight levels. This, compounded by massive radiation contamination of the earth, makes the growth of crops increasingly difficult. The ozone layer is massively depleted allowing increased ultra-violet exposure resulting in more instances of skin cancer, premature aging and cataracts and the population of Britain dwindles to medieval levels.

Children are being born more frequently with physical and mental mutations and even those who are born normal have no education and speak broken English. Their parents generally die before the children are able to take care of themselves and are many of them scamper through the ruined cities, trying to scavenge for food and clothing whilst avoiding the gunshots of people who shoot looters on sight.

I’ve pretty much avoided any major plot points of the story because, despite what I said earlier, I think it’s worth a watch. For a made for TV British production it’s all pretty good. The acting and special effects are a little dated but bearable. In fact the only things that don’t really hold up are the fashions and the haircuts. So yes, I’d highly recommend it. But if you do watch it, be warned. Once you watch something, you can’t unwatch it. I spent the day after viewing this film wandering around in a kind of daze, not entirely sure what the point in doing anything was.

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The Best And The Worst Of 2009: Part 2 by Jamie
31/12/2009, 9:00 am
Filed under: Lists, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, as I write this I’m sitting at work in a hotel. It has probably been the worst night I’ve had all year. There was an altercation between some customers, blood was spilt. Fun times. So it’s appropriate that I write this, my top 5 worst films of the year on this very night. I apologise that it wasn’t up sooner but I had a banging headache yesterday and the thought of writing anything made my mind capsule angry. With that said, I’d like to add a little disclaimer. I haven’t seen every film that was released this year, obviously. Hell, I didn’t even get to see many of the films I did want to see so all I can do is list my opinion of films I did see, hence no New Moon or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Let’s begin.

5. Terminator Salvation

The biggest crime a Terminator film can commit is to be boring. Now Salvation was certainly a better film than Terminator 3 but it was no where near as entertaining. That may seem odd but keep in mind I’m one of these people who gains a certain kind of pleasure from watching films that are bad, just as long as there’s something there that can be enjoyed.
Salvation provided me very little entertainment overall. There was the odd special effects sequence which was nice to see and it was nice to see a Terminator film that took place after Judgement Day but there was nothing really new here. For me, the film just plodded along from predictable scene to predictable scene. Some of it didn’t make even make sense. Now I know that can be said for many of the Terminator films. The timeline alone has confused the fuck out of me for years with it’s paradoxes and such but it was really obvious things. Why would the machines build robot motorbikes designed so that people could sit on them? Why did they have USB ports? Overall, this was just a massively disappointment.

4. G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

I’ll give G.I. Joe one thing, it knew exactly what the hell it was and it didn’t try to be anything else and I have to respect it or that on some level. It didn’t try and take itself seriously like certain other films based on 80s toy-lines I could, and probably will, be mentioning. Also, G.I. Joe was never really that popular here in the UK as I remember so I wasn’t as offended by the whole experience as I’m sure some of my North American counter-parts probably were.
Still, this movie was all kinds of ridiculous, pretty much to the point where it stopped being enjoyable, and trust me, there were points when I did enjoy this film due to it’s balls out ridiculousness but there’s only so much that even I can take before I say ‘I’m sorry, that’s quite enough. I’m afraid you’ve lost me.’ And it’s hard to say exactly where that point in the movie came. Was it when The Eiffel Tower got eaten up by some kind of super weapon? Was it Dr. Who’s terrible Scottish accent? Or was it having to accept that a Wayans would somehow be considered the best of the best of the best? I just couldn’t tell you.

3. Dragonball Evolution

Another film that I have very little connection with the source material. I think I tried to watch an episode of Dragonball once and was pretty bored by the whole thing. There just seem to be a lot of fighting and shouting. I can’t exactly see what all the fuss is about.
So I went into this blind and was pretty much treated to the same experience I got with G.I. Joe, ridiculousness beyond my comfort zone but even worse than G.I. Joe because it was incomprehensible ridiculousness. I reached a point where I couldn’t fully figure out what the hell was going on, nor did I care. Something to do with the guy in the orange becoming a WereMonkey and destroying the world for the grey guy if they didn’t get all the glowy balls or something. I don’t know. It was just odd and thankfully a pretty forgettable experience.

2. Friday The 13th

Now this is where this list gets a bit more personal. Yes, Terminator Salvation was a major disappointment but I can’t say I’m a die hard Terminator fan. I love the first two films but I’m not really invested in the series. Friday the 13th is a different barrel of bananas. I love these fucking films. Sure, there are some in the series that really piss me off like part five where it wasn’t even Jason and Jason Goes to Hell which just confused the hell out of me, but there’s enough there to keep me entertained.
I’m also quite comfortable in the knowledge that the Friday the 13th films aren’t great or in some cases even good films but that doesn’t matter. They hold a special place in my heart as does that loveable be-hockey masked serial killer, Jason Voorhes. So I went into this quite looking forward to it. After all, what could they do to the series that could make it any worse than it was? How can you be the straw that breaks the camels back if the camel has a long standing series of breaking it’s back? Well, I’m not sure how but they found a way.
The worst part is, I can’t even tell you how. I don’t know why I hate this movie. I actually quite enjoyed the first half hour which were essentially quick remakes of parts one and two. The film had all the right ingredients. It had Jason in his hockey mask. It had a bunch of stereotypical teenagers and it had some pretty sweet kills but somehow it just managed to be awful and it was definitely the second angriest I’ve walked out of a cinema this year.

1. Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen

GAH! For fucks sake, don’t make me relive this again. Please, I’m begging you… Fine. This “film” was just fucking awful. I spent every fucking frame of it hating the fact that I was even there. I have never walked out of a film but I came damn fucking close during this piece of shit. I apologise for the langue but… FUCK! Seriously, this thing was actually filmed? It was actually written? Someone watched this and said “This is gold. Release it.”
It’s an incomprehensible mess. No character in this film is in anyway likeable, even Optimus Prime was a massive douche. This movie made me dislike Optimus fucking Prime. When the death of a character has more emotional resonance in an animated toy commercial posing as a film then you have big fucking problems. Fuck you movie. Fuck you. If you wanna know more about my feelings on this film, there is a video review and a written accompaniment elsewhere on this site. I honestly can’t continue writing about it again and keep my sanity. Gah… Fucking… Shit… See you in 2010. Laterz.



The Best and The Worst of 2009: Part 1 by Jamie
28/12/2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Lists, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Originally I was going to finish this year with my top 50 of the past decade with maybe my top 10 worst, but I seem to have accidentally not saved my shortlist and so I’ve decided to just do this instead. Maybe I’ll try and sort out that decade list in January. Who knows? Not I… Anyway, In my opinion, 2009 was a pretty mediocre year for film. Of course this is skewed slightly by the fact that I didn’t get to see quite a lot of the films that I wanted to see and was left less than impressed by others.

Yes, this was a year for unnecessary sequels (Terminator: Salvation, Fast & Furious, The Final Destination), unnecessary remakes (Friday The 13th, Race To Witch Mountain) and terrible adaptations of popular things from other media (Dragonball Evolution, Street Fighter: The Legend Of Chun-Li) but there were a few diamonds that shone through the rough… And since I can’t think of a better way to segue into the list, here are the top five of the ones that I saw (Probable spoilers ahead. You have been warned.):

5. Avatar

If you’ve seen Ferngully, you’ve basically seen Avatar. You just have to replace fairies with 11 foot tall blue people and Tim Curry’s oily dude with a cartoonish army general. Oh, and replace that Lizard that’s voiced by Tone Lōc with a giant Pterodactyl thing. Now, this film just barely made the top five because, well, I honestly wasn’t as impressed with it as most of the world seems to have been. Yeah, the CGI was pretty impressive but the way this film was hyped up you’d think the special effects cured AIDs or something. Did they cure AIDs? Well, I don’t know, I don’t have AIDs but I’m guessing they probably don’t. All I know is that I didn’t get the same sense of awe as I did when I saw living, breathing dinosaurs for the first time in Jurassic Park or when I saw that giant mother-ship hovering over Johannesburg in District 9.
I think it’s the CGI which actually brings this film down a little. Not because it looks bad but it’s because whole scenes of this film are completely dedicated to showing it off. In fact that seems to be the main point of the entire middle of them film. It just doesn’t make for good pacing in a movie. If they’d wanted t show of the world so much then I personally think that Avatar would have worked much better as a television series where they could have layered it in throughout episodes and had a lot more time available to just show off.
Still, it has to be said that I did enjoy this film, particularly the last part which is basically one long, awesome battle. Good times. As I’ve stated before the plot is cheesy and clichéd but it’s a James Cameron movie so I was kind of expecting that and James Cameron can take the clichés and make them work.

4. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

What? I can’t put a Nicolas Cage film in my top five list of the year? Well, fuck you buddy. It’s my list and if I loved a Nicolas Cage film then I loved a Nicolas Cage film. You know what? I fucking loved a Nicolas Cage film. Bad Lieutenant pretty much takes all of the things that makes Nic Cage bad in all the films he’s been in recently and makes it fucking work.
Does he overact? Hell yes, he overacts! Is it to his benefit? Hell yes, it’s to his benefit! Seriously, I’ve never seen overacting work so well in a movie. It’s like the reverse of The Wicker Man or something. If I ever meet Werner Herzog I want to shake his hand for casting Nic in this film. And if you’ve been in a room with me and I’ve decided to talk about this film then you already know what my favourite scene in this film is. If you haven’t seen it and I haven’t told you about it then I’ll just say this. It involves an old lady and her carer, a breathing tube and the use of the word cunt. It’s a glorious thing to behold.

3. Inglorious Basterds

Inglorious Basterds is very obviously a Quentin Tarantino film. In fact, it could almost be considered another part of Grindhouse, although I suppose that most of his films could be, some are just more obvious than others.
I know there was a lot of criticism when this film came out because there were a lot of scenes with people just talking punctuated throughout with sudden, short bursts of violence. The problem being of course that people walked into the film expecting a World War 2 film like Saving Private Ryan and what they got was a Quentin Tarantino film. I suppose there’s nothing you can really do about this kind of thing really, except for maybe hand out pamphlets explaining what the film is and what the film isn’t before they go in and see it but that seems impractical at best and stupid at worst.
One thing I really loved about this film was that most of it was in German and French with subtitles except for when it obviously benefited the characters to speak in English. I hate it when films have characters speak in English for apparently no reason except so that the audience can understand them. For example, I was watching Scarface the other night, an otherwise brilliant film, but there’s a scene where Tony is talking to his sister and mother and they are all talking in English. Why? Wouldn’t it be more natural for them to speak in Spanish? Whatever. I suppose it’s that suspension of disbelief thing that I have problems with from time to time.
Perhaps my biggest problem with the film, and to be fair it’s fairly minor, is Mike Myers as the British General. His performance was fine but his accent just seemed to slip one to many times for me to buy it,
Ooh, before I move on, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome finale in the French cinema. It’s probably one of the most awesome scenes in any film I’ve seen not just this year but in the past decade. Watching two Jewish men spray bullets from boxes into the highest echelons of Nazi society below them who are in turn trying to escape from a fire, whilst the visage of a women speaking about Jewish vengeance is being projected onto the screen and then the smoke, is a truly, truly incredible thing to watch.

2. Star Trek

I would by no means consider myself a Trekkie, though I have enjoyed many a Star Trek thing over the years, in particular the original series. It’s certainly a much better series than Next Generation, with barely any of the techno-babble that haunted the later series. It was basically about three best friends in space discovering new peoples whilst one of them tried to have sex with them. Good times.
So I was a little bit wary of this film when I heard about it. Still, it turns out I had no reason to be. This film was fucking awesome on so many levels. If you’ve never seen anything Star Trek before, then you can appreciate it as a great Sci-Fi film. If you’ve seen the original series then you can appreciate it on a whole different level. There are so many little references thrown in through out the film then you’ll be a thousand times more entertained.
I really have to commend the cast of this film, in particular Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine who I thought got Spock and Kirk down perfectly. Quinto did an excellent job portraying a character who had the problem of being both part Human and part Vulcan and Pine managed to pull off that likeable cockiness that made Kirk such an enjoyable character to watch.
Now, I’m as usual I’m not afraid to admit when I’ve cried during a film and I was surprised that I got a little teary eyed on more than one occasion watching this film. Perhaps most surprising was when I welled up a little at the end when Leonard Nimoy is quoting the famous ‘Space, The Final Frontier’ speech. It’s truly a wonderful thing that completely sums up what Star Trek, nay, the human spirit is all about, the yearning to explore and discover and I had no idea that it had it ingrained itself on my psyche and affected me so much until I heard it booming from the speakers in a cinema. Still, I will agree with my mother, who’s complaining that William Shatner wasn’t in the film drove me to near insanity. It would have been nice if JJ Abrahms had gotten Shatner in to read that speech, maybe just have Spock listening to some old Captain’s Log or something. Ah well, maybe in the sequel.

1. District 9

What can I say about this film that I haven’t already said? Well, as I said earlier, I felt more awe from the special effects in this film then I did from Avatar, except the mecha-prawn which on occasion looked a little ropey. I think, in all honesty, I’m just more impressed when you can take something completely CGI and blend it with the real world, like the mothership and the prawns in this film. I don’t get too excited by a world which is pretty much totally computer-generated. That and I really, really like insectoid aliens.
This film also inspired a last minute costume change for the Saturday of Bestival, my original plan being to go as Krang’s Robot Body from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Instead I spent an entire night building a prawn arm out of bin bags, paper and a glove and went and Wikus Van De Merwe. Good times.
There is so much in this film and it can be enjoyed on so many different levels. You can enjoy it on an action and sci-fi level or on a political level or even on a comedic level, the film manages to balance all these different elements exquisitely without ever feeling bloated or boring. Ever frame of this film had me on the edge of my seat and if it isn’t recognised at the Oscars then, well, fuck the Oscars.

So that’s it. That’s my top 5 films of 2009. But I know the internet. I know what the internet likes. The internet thrives on negativity, a raw powerful anger and hatred that the anonymity the internet provides and is generally just more entertaining for all concerned. So with that in mind come back tomorrow for my Worst 5 films of 2009 and I certainly do have a large buffet of shit to choose from. Laterz.




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