Cinepub


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.

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Review: Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked by Jamie

The film series that seems intent on completely and utterly retarding the way that movies are titled continues with this latest entry, Chipwrecked. I can’t help get the feeling that a committee was put together when it came to creating this film and the first point on the agenda was coming up with a stupid pun title and then creating a plot based on said pun. Thus we have the incredibly annoying story of six incredibly annoying chipmunks stuck in an incredibly annoying plot contrivance because the main aim of these films seems to be to do nothing more than annoy the shit out of everyone who might accidentally see them.

So, in case you hadn’t guessed from the title, the main point of this film is that the Chipmunks and the Chipettes find themselves stranded on a desert island and they have to find a way to survive and get off of it and find Dave and for the good sweet sake of fuck does it actually matter? There’s shit to be done out there in the real world and I’m sitting here writing about the third film in a series about musical rodents. Where did I go wrong in life?

See at this point in the series the pain is physical, mental and liable to cause an existential crisis. Seriously, who the fuck actually sees these films (apart from me) that they actually warrant a trilogy? Who the hell are these films even aimed at? The legally brain dead? Rocks? Especially stupid single celled organisms? Certainly not children because a film aimed at children wouldn’t spend quite a bit of it’s plot referencing ‘Castaway’, an eleven year old film that I would go out on a limb and say that absolutely none of it’s supposed target audience has ever seen.

So what magic does this entry in the series bring to the table? Well, we get to see David Cross in a pelican costume. That’s… something. And Simon, the sensible, responsible chipmunk is bitten by a spider whose neurotoxin causes him to think he is a suave, adventurous Frenchman. I may not be a neurotoxicologist but I’m fairly certain that neurotoxins don’t work that way. He is also cured of his affliction near the end of the film with a bump to the head which, again whilst not a neurotoxicologist, I am pretty fucking sure isn’t the cure to being infected with neurotoxins. This turn of events also leads to Alvin rejecting his mischievous ways and taking on the role of the responsible one and we all learn an important lesson about blah blah blah. Fuck this movie.

There’s also a kooky woman who the tiny annoyances meet who has been stuck on the island for eight years. She starts out being quite friendly, if somewhat bats hit insane, but it is later revealed that she is only the island be cause she is trying to find a hidden treasure. In the end it turns out only the chipmunks can reach the treasure and so she kidnaps one of them and forces them to gather it for her as the island becomes volcanic and begins to erupt. She eventually see the error of her ways and we all learn an important lesson about blah blah blah. Fuck this movie.

So yeah, the final scene is everyone coming together to escape the island before the volcano completely destroys it. Of course, in real life no one would be stranded for very long because that island would be swarming with scientists studying the island as it gets ready to erupt. Am I making to much out of the unrealistic nature of a film about six singing chipmunks? Yes. Yes, I most certainly am but these films have driven me literally to the brink of madness and what else am I supposed to do? Write about the plot in detail? That way lies even more madness, a madness from which I fear I would never be able to escape and do you really want that on your conscience? Well, I don’t care if you do or not because it’s an avenue I simply refuse to go down.

In summation, this trilogy of films is a massive cinematic triplets of abortions. They rank with the Transformers films as some of the worst things mankind have ever done to film. Hollywood needs to go to a therapist and show them on the doll where the Chipmunks touched it. I think you get my point. So this film gets zero pints out of five. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. If you take you’re children to see it, you are a terrible parent and should have them taken away. And next time I see a rodent, I’m stamping on it’s stupid tiny head and crushing it’s brains with it’s own skull. Unless it’s a chipmunk. I shall kill them slowly to make sure they suffer. Laterz.



Holy Moly: Left Behind: The Movie by Jamie

It is my understanding that Kirk Cameron was once in an American TV show called ‘Growing Pains’ which, as far as I can tell, never played in the UK and for good reason. Just watching a video of the theme tune makes it seem as though it’d be a sickeningly sweet show were people have feelings and learns an important lesson. I could be wrong. It could all be about a serial killer who kills people by stretching them on a rack and his struggle to keep his family in the dark about his secret life. Still, that saccharine shit doesn’t really play over here in the UK. We prefer miserable or slightly dodgy characters in miserable or bizarre situations. Just look at some of our most popular sitcoms. Only Fools and Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Blackadder, Red Dwarf and Fawlty Towers. None of them have a sickeningly sweet character in them. The closest you’d really get is Del Boy from Only Fools and Horses but even he is pretty much a complete arsehole though his heart is often in kind of the right place.

Anyway, that got away from me a bit there. My point was I didn’t really become aware of Kirk Cameron until he started using TV and the internet to minister using his Way of the Master program or whatever the hell it is. I came to enjoy Kirk, not because he opened my heart to Jesus but because he was clearly a bit mental. Hell, he appeared in a number of my favourite YouTube videos such as ‘The Atheist’s Nightmare’.

Yes, it’s wonderful that God designed the banana so perfectly for human consumption. Except, of course, God didn’t make the banana that way. Man did through the same kind of guided evolution that we used to create domesticated animals and grains. Still good try. Also what if you don’t like bananas? What if you like pineapples? Does God hate you? Anyway, that’s all beside the point. My point is that I already had a pretty low opinion of Kirk Cameron (though his recent statement that jumping to the conclusion that all those birds falling out of the sky meant it was the end times was ridiculous raised it a little) before I decided to give this film a watch, but hey, I hadn’t seen him act so who knows? Maybe he’ll be good.

Well, he isn’t though I honestly couldn’t say if it’s because of the terrible script or just him. The movie is set at the beginning of Armageddon, the time that some Christians believe will signal the end of the world and the return of Jesus or something. It begins with all the believers being called up to heaven leaving their clothes behind and a bunch of confused people who have to clean up the mess caused by their sudden disappearance. Seriously, cars crash when their holy drivers are called away to paradise and all other manner of accidents occur. It’s a lot to clear away for us simple non-believers. Yeah, thanks for that God. Asshole.

Still, the film begins a little before that. We meet Buck (Kirk Cameron), the world’s most awesome reporter as he’s interviewing an Israeli scientist, Chaim Rosenzweig, about his miracle breakthrough in strains of wheat that will grow practically anywhere! Of course, two evil members of the evil UN want to get their hands on the wheat hoping it will lead to world peace and world unification and so it’s a bad thing in this particular film. The evil UN members basically bribe the scientist by promising that if he gives them the formula for the wheat, they’ll rebuild the Temple of Solomon in Israel, which they are apparently unaware is another sign of the end times. In doing this they’ll control the world’s food supply and therefore profit. Oh, evil UN members! Is there nothing you’ll do to unwittingly bring about the end of humanity?

Anyway during this interview a massive Arab air strike attacks Israel. Buck and Chaim escape to what seems to be an Israeli War Room which is out in this random patch of desert for some reason. Suddenly the jets start randomly exploding completely by themselves. Buck goes outside to report on these events and an old guy comes and babbles about something bibley.

There’s also this secondary plot about this pilot and his family. His wife’s a believer so she get’s raptured along with his son because children are all innocents in the eyes of God or something. So he’s left with his daughter who I think is a Christian’s idea of what a rock chick looks like. She has a nose piercing you see! Holy crap! I wouldn’t be surprised to find out she’d also done the pot! Anyway Buck meets the pilot on a plane whilst the rapture occurs and… Oh, Jesus fucking Christ. It’s so incredibly dull! Ugh, come on. Just push on.

So Buck goes and begins to uncover the truth behind the scriptures and the predictions of the bible whilst the pilot comes to terms with his wife and son’s disappearance, coming to terms with his own lost faith. Buck also finds out about the conspiracy regarding the special wheat and goes to the UN to try and save Chaim from making a terrible mistake. The new leader of the UN, Nicolae Carpathia, is outraged that the two evil UN members, who were apparently his mentors, where behind this evil scheme. He calls a meeting of the UN or something and Buck is brought in to watch because Carpathia wants him as his new media minister or something. Ugh… Not long now.

Anyway, Carpathia kills the shit out the two evil UN members in front of everyone else but then seems to erase everyone’s memory of it. Everyone apart from Buck’s because, you know, he’s awesome and that. Carpathia also announces that this will be the beginning of seven years of world peace which is the same amount of time that some Christians believe there’ll be troubles on Earth before Christ returns. Oh, and Carpathia is the Anti-Christ.

So there, you go. That’s Left Behind: The Movie. I haven’t read the book so I can’t compare it to that but I can say that it’s a pretty goddamn terrible film. It looks like it was made for television by someone who really, really fucking hates television. Like hated it so much that they wanted to punish it by making it appear on it’s screen. But no, apparently this thing was released in actual cinemas and watched by actual people. I mean… fuck.

There are a number of things I could say. I could go into how poorly written the thing is. Characters introduced without any earlier mention only to provide an ‘exciting’ thing to push the story forward. The terrible, terrible dialogue. For example, I’m fairly sure that if people suddenly disappeared, the people left behind wouldn’t watch their language quite as much as they do in this. For fuck’s sake people say heck instead of hell! Millions of people have just vanished and people are saying heck? It’s a world inhabited by Ned Fucking Flanders’! How the hell did anyone get Left Behind? Aside from that, the dialogue is just stilted and unnatural and often crammed uneasily with characters telling other characters that the bible is awesome or Buck is awesome.

I could mention the slightly smug attitude that characters have towards other nationalities or religions. It’s never expressly stated but you get the impression that everyone kinda looks down on the Jews or the Arabs in this film, happy in their security that, even though this is a work of fiction, they’re all good Christians who’re getting raptured right up to heaven when this shit goes down for real. I could go into the fact that the writer’s of this shit seem to have a bizarrely over-inflated notion of just how powerful the UN is. You honestly think they’re going to take over and create a one world government and end all war forever and ever? They couldn’t even stop the invasion of Iraq. The UN is a bunch of people sitting around and bickering with no real power to stop any major world power from doing what ever it wants. Seriously though, is a one world government such a terrible thing? Seemed to work out pretty well in Star Trek. Once we’d sorted out all the world’s problems and gotten together as brothers and sisters we could address the very pressing issue of finding hot alien women and fucking them. How is that not awesome?

I could even go into how terrible the acting was. Again, I’m not sure if it’s just because of the terrible script or the fact that these people have no acting chops. It was just awful. In fact, the only guy I really liked was the Anti-Christ. At least he looked like he was having some fun with his role. Everyone was just treating it so ridiculously seriously that it was laughable. As for the special effects, well, it was almost approaching “Birdemic” level during the initial air strike scene but this was made in 2000 or I assume a tiny budget so I have to cut it some slack. This movie was just painful to watch. Half a pint out of five for the Anti-Christ who, as I say, brought some entertainment to the whole horrible affair. Laterz.



5 Top Films Still To Come In 2009 by Jamie

As you may know by now, I’ve been pretty disappointed with 2009 so far. In general it’s been a pretty goddamn terrible year for films what with shit like Wolverine, Friday the 13th and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hitting the screens. Sure there have been some bright sparks here and there but overall, it’s been pretty awful. Now the year is over halfway through so shouldn’t we just give up entirely? No because there are still some films to be released that I hope might bring the years overall score up a little. Let’s look at he top 5 films I’m still looking forward to.

5: Inglorious Basterds (UK/US release date: 21/08/2009)

Yes, Tarantino’s WWII themed spaghetti-western comes in at number 5. It has his largest cast of speaking roles in a flim so far and tells the story of a group of Jewish-American soldiers who are on a mission to kill as many Nazi’s as they possibly can while a Jewish girl attempts to avenge the death of her family at the hands of an SS Colonel referred to as ‘The Jew Hunter’.

Now, I generally love Tarantino films so I can help but look forward to this one, especially with a cast that includes Brad Pitt, who has been pretty consistently great in everything he’s been in since Fight Club. The film also boasts performances from Eli Roth, Mike Myers and the while things narrated by the bad motherfucker himself, Samuel L. Jackson. The only reason that this film isn’t higher is that the film recieved a bit of bad press when it was screened but it was still the only American film at the festival to recieve any kind of award so time will tell whether this film lives up to my expectations or just adds to the massive dissapointment of 2009.

4: Where The Wild Things Are (US release date: 16/10/09)

This is the story of a kid who wears weird pajamas who goes and plays with massive furry monsters voiced by Tony Soprano in a weird forest that gets bombed or something. I dunno, I never read the book as a kid as far as I can remember, which to be honest may have meant that I read it several times. I have a shit memory.

So the main reason I’ve put this on here is the technique of making the weird monster creatures is really interesting and, from the trailer at least, it looks as though it works really well. Will it actually be any good? As I understand the book it’s adapted from is actually really quite short and we all know where that can lead (The Grinch and The Cat in the Hat).

3: Taking Woodstock (US release date: 28/08/09)

Directed by Ang Lee this is an R rated comedy based on the true life story of Elliot Tiber, a guy whose parents owned a motel and the only music festival permit in Bethel, New York. He offered both of these things to the Woodstock Music Festival.

Now this film ticks a number of boxes that make me look forward to it. A cast of people I enjoy: Demetri Martin, Emile Hirsch, Eugene Levy. Tick. A subject that I’m interested in: Woodstock. Tick. R-Rated comedy. Tick. So all in all this film looks like it’s going to be right down my alley. Here’s hoping this isn’t another 2009 dissapointment.

2: Sherlock Holmes (UK release date: 25/12/09)

Guy Ritchie’s period action film about the world’s most famous detective (except maybe Batman) starring Robert Downie Jr. and Jude Law as the Victorian dynamic duo is certainly one to look forward to. I was a little concerned when I first saw the trailer, thinking that they’d made Holmes into some kind of 19th century James Bond but hey, the fashion these days is taking classic characters and reinvisioning them so why not Holmes too?

Also it’s got Robert Downie Jr. in it for fucks sake! He’s consistently proving that he’s one of the best actors we’ve got these days and I’m sure some people will soon begin complaining that he’s over-exposed but who cares as long as he can consistently deliver sterling performances?

1: District 9 (UK/US release date: 19/08/09)

I don’t think anyone should be surprised by this. In fact, is there anyone who’s not looking forward to this film? It’s the story of aliens living in a segregated community (District 9) in South Africa. The community is controlled by the human corporation Multi-National United (MNU) who have no interest in the aliens welfare. In fact the only thing the humans are interested in is their technology which won’t work without alien DNA. Suddenly an MNU worker contracts an alien virus which begins to mutate his genes, making him the key to humans being able to use the alien weaponry. He becomes a hunted man and, becoming ostracised and friendless, he takes shelter in the only place he can, District 9.

I’ll admit, I was a little shocked when the first full trailer came out and showed this was a far more straightforward film rather than the documentary style I had come to expect from the teasers but I get the feeling that there will probably be a decent mix of both styles which will make me very, very happy indeed. Man, I can’t wait for this to be released. In fact the only problem with District 9 is that it heavily features the worst accent on Earth. Sorry South Africans, but really, it’s like someone smacking my ears with a frying pan. Still, hopefully someone will say ‘Diplomatic Immunity.’ Then all will be well.




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