Cinepub


Drunken "The Amazing Spider-man" Trailer Review by Jamie

I take a drunken look at the Spider-man reboot trailer. Sorry about the audio only portion of this. New camera and I’m still trying to figure it out. Also, I was quite drunk.



Review: True Grit by Jamie

I’ve been on a real Western kick lately and I think ‘Red Dead Redemption’ is entirely to blame. Yes, I’m still playing it, although to be fair I didn’t have my Xbox for about three months after Undead Nightmare was released. And so I went through and watched a few westerns like ‘3:10 to Yuma’ and kind of Westerny things like ‘There Will Be Blood’. To be fair, I loved those two films the first time I watched them but I’d never really liked Westerns as a kid. My thing was dinosaurs. Show me a cowboy who can beat up an Ankylosaurus and I’ll call you a liar. Still, they’ve weaselled a small way into my heart of recent times (and my head because I can’t get the fucking theme to ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly’ out of it).

So I was really looking forward to ‘True Grit’. Was I disappointed? No sir, I was not. As such, this may be my shortest review in some time. I literally don’t wanna spoil anything in this film. I’ll say it’s very similar to the 1969 version that was based on the same book though there are some pretty big differences which I won’t get into, again, for fear of spoilers.

The story revolves around Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), a headstrong fourteen year old girl who is determined to track down her father’s killer, Tim Chaney (Josh Brolin), and see him hanged. She seeks the help of a US Marshall who she hears has true grit, Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and the party has an on-again, off-again third member in the form of Texas Ranger LaBouef (Matt Damon and here it’s pronounced LaBeef). They travel far and wide, dealing with nefarious outlaws from Lucky Ned Pepper’s (Barry Pepper) gang as well as growing closer together and learning a lot about each other… kinda.

That’s all I’m gonna give you synopsis wise. Seriously, go see the damn film. OK, so everyone is brilliant in this film. Jeff Bridges plays the gruff, drunken yet world-wise Cogburn perfectly. He grumbles and mutters his way through rambling stories about his past just enough that you get to learn about the character and how he came to be where he is but still manages to retain an air of legendary status… at least until a certain point in the film where you kind of get the sense of the kind of man he really is… or is he?

Hailee Steinfeld is truly incredible as Mattie. She portrays the character as someone who’s incredibly wise beyond her years, determined and willing to be just a little bit underhanded in order to get what she wants. In fact, you almost get the impression that she’s exactly what Cogburn himself would have been like at her age, before drink dulled his senses somewhat. Normally a young character who is so good at getting what she wants and goes about it in such an intelligent way would pull me out of the film a little. I’d find them a little bit unbelievable but Steinfeld managed to have me believing that such a character could exist from the beginning. I’m genuinely shocked that Natalie Portman beat her at the Baftas because, as I think I addressed in my Black Swan review, Portman’s good but the character was sometimes just a little too pathetic to the point where it stretched all reason. Steinfeld is literally just perfect. It’s also criminal that she’s been nominated as a Supporting Actress at the Oscars. As Mark Kermode said if she’s the supporting actress then that must make Matt Damon the lead actress.

Speaking of Matt Damon he’s also incredibly good as LaBeouf. He infuses the character with a kind of douchiness (and occasionally a kind of paedophilic creepiness) yet never pushes it to the point that you don’t like the character. Kind of like what Robert Downey Jr did in Iron Man (and if you wanna see what happens when it gets pushed to the point where you don’t like the character, watch Iron Man 2). He’s incredibly big headed and thinks that he deserves some kind of special respect because he’s a Texas Ranger much to the amusement of Mattie and especially Cogburn. There’s a turning point for this character as well where he kinda redeems himself though and it’s done very well.

As for the other aspects of the film, well, it looks great as we should probably all expect from the Coen Brothers by now. From big, sweeping Western vistas to close ups of characters standing silently and waiting in the snow for someone following them to catch up, it’s all shot perfectly. It looks bleak but somehow beautiful. And it all serves to tell a pretty damn interesting story of vengeance in the old west.

If I did have one problem with the film, it’s that occasionally Jeff Bridges mumbling was so severe that it could be kind of hard to understand at times. It’s just a little thing really and doesn’t take anything away from the awesome that is this film. Five pints out of five. Right, that’s all the Oscar season films I’ll probably see for now. Time to get back to reviews that aren’t gushing and terrible. Time to hopefully watch some films that I can really rip into… Oh Shyamalan, where are you when I need you most? Laterz.



Review: Piranha (1995) by Jamie

Ah, the 90s. The coke fuelled high of the 80s was over and the year 2000 was just around the corner and was full of terrifying things like millennium bugs, robot uprisings and bizarre lycra-based space fashions. Independent film came more to the forefront, largely in reaction to people becoming tired of the big, overblown films that Hollywood pumped out with disastrous regularity. Just look at the flexography of Stallone or Schwarzenegger during the 90s. The stars of the 80s were fading, their bloated corpses kept afloat by terrible film after terrible film… Well, Kindergarten Cop was fun. Still, the 90s Hollywood machine did adorn us with some awesome. Jurassic Park for example. Still, the 90s was essentially a giant come down after the decadence of the 80s with minds filled with paranoia looking towards the future. Still, the economy was pretty strong. Take that current economical situation!

Still, we’re not here to look at what the 90s was all about. We’re here to look at a made for TV remake of a 70s B-Movie! Yes, that’s right. Apparently during the 90s Roger Corman produced a number of remakes of some of his earlier films for cable television. One of those films was 1995’s remake of Piranha. I would write a plot synopsis but it’s pretty much exactly the same as original. There are a few differences such as the military not showing up this time, the story being much more anti-corporation than it is anti-military.

The film does differ in a few important ways however. For one, the film is pretty much stripped of all humour. This time Grogan is played by William Katt who has literally none of the gruff charm of Bradford Dillman. He’s just a guy who doesn’t have a particularly pronounced drinking problem and is trying to be a writer. Perhaps the biggest example of this character change is the difference between two very similar exchanges in the two films. In the first Maggie asks Grogan if he began drinking after his wife divorced him. In this film she asks if he started writing after the divorce. It’s a little thing but it kind of neuters the character a little. Also his divorce is directly related to his decision to fight against big evil corporate America and the smelting plant which would play a big part later in the film.

Speaking of the smelting plant, something occurred to me which I didn’t even consider during the original film. So the developer has built brand new water park resort on this lake and they didn’t get rid of the big smelting plant that’s just sitting there, flooded, full of industrial waste and slowly rusting away? Am I the only one who sees the problem that this kind of short-sighted thinking would inevitably lead to?

I suppose another thing that is notable about this film is that Mila Kunis stars as Grogan’s daughter and is probably gives the most convincing performance throughout the whole thing. Keep in mind that she is about eleven or twelve during this film so, yeah, that says something about the quality of this film.

So yeah, I think I’m pretty much done with this. The whole film is just a flat, boring rehash of what was a pretty entertaining film. There’s just no fun to be had here at all. Oh, and I should also mention that the land developer behind the water park resort shoots himself in the head after the piranha attack in this version whilst the camera cuts back and forth to the watchful eyes of the mounted animal heads on his wall. Subtlety is not the strong suit of this movie. Still, it is better than the crap put out by the SyFy channel and the Asylum although those things are often fun to watch because you can‘t believe someone actually wrote and filmed something so ridiculous. It also has to be said that it is better than Piranha 2: The Spawning. Ugh, fuck that film.

So to sum up quickly, Piranha 1995 gets two pints out of five. Join us tomorrow for the epic adventure that is ‘Mega Piranha’ brought to you through the combined efforts of the SyFy channel and The Asylum! Huzzah!



Review: The A-Team by Jamie

Pretty much spoiler free.

In the early 80s a TV show burst on to the screen with a hail of bullets (bullets that never hit anyone but you were fucked if you were a tyre.) That show was ‘The A-Team’ and everyone loved it. Literally everyone. Seriously, who the fuck doesn’t love The A-Team? If you answered “Me” then get out of here. I don’t need your type reading this blog… No, that’s mean. You can stay, I guess, but re-evaluate your life. Something has gone very, very wrong.

Why did we love the A-Team? Well, the opening intro and theme certainly had something to do with it. Let’s watch it now, won’t we?

See? You open a show like that and there’s no way in hell that the audience is going anywhere until that show’s final credits are rolling. There’s something about that theme tune that stirs the very souls of men. All men from all walks of life. If you begin humming the first few notes of that song, any man around you will join in. Then try getting that theme out of your head. It’s damn near impossible. In fact it’s a pretty sweet song to use if you’ve got something else stuck in your head. Go on, go listen to something guaranteed to get stuck in your head say ‘Africa’ by Toto or something and then listen to The A-Team theme. See, worked didn’t it?

So yes, we all have great love for the original series. So I personally met the first rumblings of a big screen version of an A-Team film with some trepidation and slight excitement. I remember first hearing about it years ago with people like Ice Cube and Jim Carrey attached at various points but then for a while it seemed as though everything had died down and the film was pretty much dead. Then came the announcements in 2009 that it was most definetly on, Liam Neeson was Hannibal, Bradley Cooper was Face, Sharlto Copley was Murdock and MMA fighter Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was B.A. Baracus. That same mixture of trepidation and excitement found it’s back into my mind.

So does this film live up to our memories of that original series? Well, in a way. Let’s get things straight right of the bat. This isn’t ‘Inception’. This isn’t some massive, high-art experiment in film making. It’s a film based on The A-Team, a beloved but admittedly cheesy TV show from the 80s so it doesn’t need to be. All I went into this film hoping was that it would be fun and keep at least somewhat true to the feel of the series.

Well, it certainly succeeds on the fun part. I certainly felt as though I had been entertained by the time that the end credits rolled. There’s enough crazy action shit going on here to keep the average A-Team fan entertained. There’s a tank falling from a plane with the team using it’s massive gun to help them to land. There’s a great scene early on with the team executing a massive elaborate plan in order to recover some US treasury plates from a shady group of mercenaries called Black Forest (Yeah, it’s not the most subtle of films) and the whole final showdown, whilst not as fun as some of the earlier stuff, does have a bazooka blowing a whole in a massive freight ship. So that’s cool.Oh, there’s also a kick ass scene involving a 3D movie and the original theme but to say too much would be giving it away.

But what about staying true to the spirit of the show? Well, for the most part I thought it actually captured it pretty well. The characters are fun, fairly decent adaptations of the ones from the 80s. Their interactions are enjoyable and, especially in the case of BA and Murdock, fairly accurate to the way they interacted in the show. There are, however, a few problems. First off, they actually shoot and kill people. What the hell? That’s not the A-Team I know and love. Hell, BA even breaks a dudes back and kills him at some point. I can see why Mr T didn’t exactly enjoy the film and said it focused a little too much on the violence.

Still, I feel as though some of this can be forgiven because of the nature of the film. You see this is very much an origin story, beginning just before the team has actually formed. Murdock meets BA in a desert in Mexico in one of the most ridiculous coincidences put on screen since Kirk stumbled across future Spock on the ice planet in the recent Star Trek film. They then go and save Face before busting Murdock out of a mental institution. It then cuts to 8 years and 80 successful missions later and you actually get to see them getting convicted for he crime they didn’t commit before busting out of jail and trying to hunt down the bastards who framed them in order to clear there name. To sum up, these guys aren’t yet the soldiers of fortune hiding out in the Los Angeles underground. They aren’t going up against over-zealous land developers and corrupt law enforcement officers. They’re fighting military, mercenaries and agents of the CIA. It makes sense for them to be a little more violent at this stage in their lives. I just hope if they do make a sequel and they are taking jobs and going against smaller scale bad guys they don’t kill them. They’d better not accept any cash either.

So what of the acting? Did the new guys manage to bring the old characters to life as we remembered them? Well, Liam Neeson is pretty much doing what Liam Neeson does, playing kind of a more lighted version of his character from ‘Taken’ but it works quite well as John “Hannibal” Smith, the older, gruff guy who’s seen some shit in his time and has a plan worked out in his mind for every situation. A plan, by the way, he is always glad for the coming together of. Did they make sense? I don’t care. Speaking of plans though, there are certain goddamn times throughout the film where I swear every fifth or sixth word out of Hannibal‘s mouth is the word plan. It really started to grate on my nerves.

Bradley Cooper is pretty much the perfect choice for Templeton “Face” Peck. I never really liked Face in the original TV show and I can’t really put my finger on why. There was just something about his cocky, smarminess that never sat right with me but I really enjoyed the character here. He’s just as cocky and just as smarmy and it just works. Maybe it’s because he’s kind of the main character here so he gets more to do whereas in the original series he always seemed like the one who had the least to do and he just didn’t stand out as much compared to the other three. But yeah, Cooper really pulls Face of well. He‘s even got that same kind of smile that Dirk Bennedict used to flash in the show.

Now, what can I say about Sharlto Copley? The man is a fucking great actor. He was brilliant in my favourite film last year, District 9, and he is perfect in the role of H.M. “Howling Mad” Murdock. He manages to capture that wackiness that Dwight Schultz used to bring to the character and is pretty damn funny throughout. They even managed to make him a little bit dangerously insane, at one point even going so far as to set Face on fire, apparently just for the fun of it which I enjoyed because to be fair, the character in the show never really seemed Howling Mad, he just seemed a bit eccentric.

The weakest link in the film by far is Quinton Jackson as Bosco “Bad Attitude” Baracus. There are times when he’s pretty much just imitating Mr. T and I suppose that if you playing B.A. Baracus in an A-Team film that’s kind of all you can do. In the original show the other actors seemed to actually be playing characters whereas Mr. T was just being Mr. T. Still, there are a lot of times when his line delivery just falls really flat. Still this is his first film role and I do think he’s got a lot of potential and good be quite a good actor if he works at it. I also really enjoyed his on screen chemistry with Sharlto Copley. They really seemed to capture the antagonistic relationship that the two had on the show. You also get to find out just why B.A. is afraid of flying which is a nice touch. Still, having Pity and Fool tattooed on his knuckles is a bit much.

There’s also the ‘fifth member’ of The A-Team, the van. All I’ll say is what happens to the van really, really pissed me off. Mother fuckers. It seems as though remakes nowadays always have to do something to destroy or mock something from the original. There’s Bubo the Owl in the Clash of the Titans remake, the ruining of the fly scene in The Karate Kid remake and what happens to the van here. I love that van and this is a damn outrage.

As for the rest of the cast well, let’s do a quick summary. Jessica Biel is really just there to move the plot along and be a love interest for Face which she does satisfactorily. Patrick Wilson is actually pretty fun as the C.I.A. Agent Lynch, being just slimy enough to be a fairly convincing villain and Brian Bloom is also pretty enjoyable as the slightly unhinged Brock Pike, a man who at one point seems to accept death as long as he isn’t shot by the incompetent C.I.A. agent who can’t even attach a silencer to a gun correctly.

So, what can I really say to sum up? Well, all in all the film is a fun, summer blockbuster that captures at least something of the spirit of the original show. Whilst I said that the actors did I pretty good job portraying the original characters, they still aren’t THE A-Team and they never will be but they are probably the best we could have hoped for. Well, maybe not Quinton Jackson but could they ever really find someone to fill Mr. T’s boots? Of course not and I still have faith that he will grow as an actor and be better if they do a sequel. And I really hope for a sequel. I really want to see the team become the soldiers of fortune they were in the show, helping out the little guy in small desert towns. Until then I’ll say that if you’re a fan of the show, you’ll enjoy this. It won’t be everything you’d hope it could have been but you’ll have a good time, especially considering some of the shit that’s come out this year. I rate The A-Team three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

BONUS CONTENT!: Here’s a special message from the big man himself. I pity the fool who doesn’t take his advice.



The Original Still Exists: The Karate Kid by Jamie

Well, the time has come and The Karate Kid remake has been released. I haven’t seen it yet since it won’t be released in the UK until July but I’ve certainly complained about it enough in everyday life which on reflection certainly seems a bit harsh but the trailer really, really irked me. There are times when a remake can lovingly make reference to the original whilst establishing itself as some new and separate or it can go ‘The Clash Of Titans’ route and seemingly take the piss out of the original. In ‘The Clash Of The Titans’ remake there is a scene where Perseus picks up Bubo, the mechanical owl from the original, and is told to just leave it behind. To me that just seemed completely unnecessary and disrespectful to the original. In the trailer for The Karate Kid remake it looks as though Jackie Chan is trying to catch a fly with a pair of chopsticks before simply killing it with a fly swatter. To me this smacks of ‘Leaving The Owl’ as I will now refer to it.

Anyway much has been made of the recent remake trend in Hollywood. There are those that feel as though the films that we grew up loving are just being taken, given a modern facelift and being released in the interest of nothing more than making money. Of course the fact that most of these remakes are of films that came out in the 80s, the decade of consumerism, makes that a little hard to take completely seriously though it certainly seems that in many cases that does seem to be what’s going on here. Still no matter what happens it is important to remember that the original films still do and always will exist. The movie gestapo aren’t going to come around and destroy the original films that these remakes are based on. It’s also possible that the simple fact that the remakes exist may inspire people to revisit, or perhaps watch for the first time, those original films and that can’t be a bad thing… Unless they remake Jaws. I will bring about the end of the human race if anyone ever dares to remake Jaws. This I promise you.

Anyway, that’s what this new series of articles on Cinepub is all about, remembering and looking back at those original films on which these remakes have been based and I’m going to start with a personal favourite, the aforementioned ‘The Karate Kid’ from that greatest of all years, the year 1984. Spoilers ahead.

Now, I suppose it’s only fair to begin by saying that I love this film. It may even be in my top ten films of all time. It’s practically perfect in my mind. However, I suppose if you had to criticise the film for anything, it’d probably be the plot. It’s a pretty standard sports/fight film plot. Underdog must train in order to beat seemingly superior opponent. Simple as that. It’s a story we’ve all seen time and time again. It’s what is built around this fairly simple plot that makes this one of my favourite films of all time.

The true backbone of this film is the relationship between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Noriyuki “Pat” Morita)… Still, I suppose we should get to the plot besides the whole underdog vs. seemingly superior opponent before we get into the relationships within the film.

So Daniel’s mother Lucille (Randee Heller) gets a new job in California

Yes, that’s right little mentally be-wronged boy from ‘The Wizard’, California. Anyway she moves herself and her son out there from New Jersey all the way to the aforementioned other state. Daniel’s pretty annoyed at being moved from one side of the country to the other but whilst moving in he’s actually invited to a beach party! And at the beach party he meets a girl that catches his eye, Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue). Yes, things seem to be going pretty damn well for Daniel but of course this wouldn’t be much of a film without a conflict now, would it?

Unfortunately the Cobra Kai gang which is headed by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), Ali’s former boyfriend, stumble across the beach party and decide to crash it. Johnny decides to try and worm his way back into Ali’s good books, going so far as to steal her boom box. Daniel tries to defend her but is soundly thrashed by Johnny and his gang.

Still Daniel tries and persists with Ali and more thrashings from the Cobra Kai are dealt out towards him. All the while the friends who Daniel made on his first day at that beach party have abandoned him and so he finds himself developing a friendship with the janitor of his apartment complex, Mr. Miyagi, which really begins after Miyagi fixes Daniel’s bike after one of the aforementioned thrashings.

Over the months Daniel finally just kinda gives up on Ali and his only friend is Mr. Miyagi until the elderly janitor tells him that he should just go to the Halloween dance and try his luck with the girl he likes or as Miyagi puts it “To make honey, young bee need young flower, not old prune.” Which is an awesome quote. Daniel heads to the dance dressed as a shower and a prank ends in yet another thrashing but this time Mr. Miyagi sees the fights, intervenes and kicks the Cobra Kai’s collectives ass which leads Daniel to beg him to teach him Karate and also head down to the Cobra Kai dojo with him to try and get the bullies to let up on the beatings a bit.

So how does this meeting go? Well, the good news is that the Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese (Martin Kove) orders his students to leave Daniel alone. Unfortunately Daniel must now enter the local karate tournament with only a few months to train. I know what you’re thinking, well why doesn’t Daniel just not show up for the tournament? Wouldn’t that solve all of his problems? Unfortunately not. If that were to happen not only would Daniel’s beatings resume but Mr. Miyagi would be fair game as well. Yes, Sensei Kreese is such a douche that he would order his students to beat the shit out of an elderly old man.

And so Daniel-san, as Miyagi calls him, begins his training. Though the training seems odd to the young ninja wannabe because it mainly seems to consist of doing chores for the elderly janitor such as cleaning his car collection, sanding his patio and painting his fence and house. Finally pissed off, Daniel-san confronts Miyagi and the reason behind the chores becomes clear as all the movements that Miyagi had taught Daniel-san to carry out his tasks turn out to be karate blocking moves. Well played Miyagi. Well played.

Anyway, Daniel trains, Miyagi teaches, the two grow closer and Daniel also manages to grow closer to Ali though he can’t help but feel as though there will always be a gulf between them because she’s an uptown girl and he’s a back street guy, a feeling which isn’t helped by an incident at a country club. Still, through his training Daniel learns more than just karate from Miyagi. He also learns the importance of discipline and balance and uses these lessons in order to reconnect and build his relationship with Ali. He also learns that Miyagi once had a wife who died in childbirth whilst being held in Manzanar internment camp whilst he was serving America, the country that had imprisoned his family, in Europe, a service for which he was awarded the medal of honour. The combination of training and learning more about each other which leads them to developing a kind of father/son-esque bond.

Finally the tournament comes round and Daniel manages to reach the semi-final whilst Johnny manages to make it to the final. Sensei Kreese decides that he doesn’t want there to even be the possibility that Daniel might defeat Johnny and so orders his opponent, one of the Cobra Kai’s less cuntish students, to perform an illegal move against Daniel and damage his knee. The student reluctantly agrees getting himself disqualified and getting Daniel taken from the ring, effectively making Johnny the defacto winner.

Daniel is heartbroken but Miyagi tells him that he has proven himself. Still Daniel believes that if he doesn’t go out there and fight Johnny then his torment at the hands of the Cobra Kai will never end and he begs Miyagi to perform a pain suppression technique on his knee so that he can compete. Daniel hobbles back into the ring, the fight goes ahead and is boils down to a tie despite Sensei Kreese’s orders for Johnny to sweep the leg. Finally, barely able to even stand, Daniel performs the difficult crane kick manoeuvre and wins the match gaining the respect of Johnny and all of California. He’s the best around.

So yeah, that’s a basic outline of the plot and as I say it’s really the relationship between Miyagi and Daniel that provides the back bone of this film. It’s totally believable and totally moving. There was more than one point whilst re-watching this that I started to tear up a little. Moments such as when Daniel finds out what happened to Miyagi’s family and later when Miyagi throws him a little birthday party and gives him a few gifts. One is a Karate outfit including a symbol that Miyagi’s wife had made for him. The other is one of the classic cars from his collection. More important are the non-material things that Miyagi gives to Daniel. Things like balance, discipline and most importantly a father figure where he had none before. It’s truly believable and touching and most importantly at no point does it feel creepy that this young teenage boy’s best friend is an older gentleman. Mr. Miyagi is just a great teacher with regards to karate and life and we should all be so lucky as to have one.

Finally, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the music in The Karate Kid. It’s an 80stastic mixture of 80s awesome wrapped up in a very 80s package. 80s. Yes, it may seem a little cheesy now but there’s a little gland in the back of the head of everyone who experienced even a small part of the 80s that makes us enjoy it’s music on some kind of level even if we don’t want to. And let us remember that it was the Karate Kid that gave us one of the greatest and most inspiring songs that the world has ever known, ‘You’re The Best’ by Joe Esposito.

Right well, this has gone of for much longer and taken much longer than I ever would have thought. Suffice it to say the original film is fantastic and no matter whether the remake is good or bad, the original will always be around to watch again and again. I give this film 4.5 pints out of 5. Laterz.



Review: A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) by Jamie

AVAST, HERE BE SPOILERS.

Ah, Michael Bay. You seem to be set on ruining the things that I loved growing up. If you’re not turning the Transformers into nothing more than giant scrotum jokes and robots humping Megan Fox’s leg then you’re using your production company, Platinum Dunes, to systematically remake the horror films that morphed me into the slightly twisted and desensitized me from violence. From ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ to ‘The Amityville Horror’, it seemed as though nothing was safe from your evil clutches.

This all culminated with the one that was the biggest personal insult to me, last years remake of ‘Friday The 13th’. Jason was always my favourite of the slashers and I was actually genuinely excited to see this film in the cinema. I went into it with the feeling that you couldn’t possibly ruin a series which, arguably, had been ruined several times before. See ‘Jason Takes Manhattan’ for more details. Of course I was wrong to have hope. I left that film feeling angrier than I thought I could feel about a film. What had happened to my hockey masked hero? Little did I know that I could actually feel angrier than that but I did when a certain cinematic shitstorm called ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ hit the screens.

But then came the news of another Michael Bay produced horror remake, a remake of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. At first I was dubious. There came the news that Robert Englund wouldn’t be reprising his role as Freddy, that someone else would be donning the fedora, stripy sweatshirt and clawed glove. Of course I could understand. You want to reboot something then you want someone different in that role but for many of us, Robert Englund was Freddy. It was as simple as that.

Then there came hope. It turned out that Jackie Earle Haley would be stepping into the shoes of everyone’s favourite child murderer… Wow, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Still, things seemed to be looking up. Haley was certainly the best thing about ‘Watchmen’ and it seemed as though he was pretty much perfect for the role.

Other pieces of news started to break out. The film-makers said that they’d want to take Freddy away from the jokey character he had become in the later ‘Nightmare’ movies and return him to his dark origins. Not that I don’t enjoy the comic Freddy for what he was but there definitely was something genuinely scary about that first ‘Nightmare’ film. Plus it seemed like they could really do something impressive with the nightmarish dreamscapes that modern CGI would allow. Once more Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes had gotten my hopes up. But would it turn out that once more my hope was misplaced?

Well in a word, yes. The filmmakers took what is a fucking solid concept and completely screwed it up. I didn’t get as annoyed by this as I was by ‘Friday the 13th‘. Rather, I was just bored. When a movie’s main conceit is that your main characters will die if they fall asleep, it’s probably a good idea not to make the audience feel as though a little nap would be more enjoyable than watching the film.

The main problem was that the slightly surreal elements of that first ‘Nightmare’ film have almost been completely stripped away. Yes, there’s the scene where Freddy is coming through the wall but it’s honestly nowhere as impressive as in the original. There’s also a scene later on where a floor becomes a lake of turgid blood which then pools and falls through a ceiling but other than that there aren’t really any examples of Freddy drastically fucking with reality like he used to. There’s no scene where a telephone suddenly sprouts a tongue. There’s no shower of blood exploding from the mattress of a bed (though the scene I mentioned earlier of the blood falling through a ceiling is supposed to be reminiscent of it and again, it’s nowhere near as impressive). There’s not even an attempt to replicate one of the most iconic scenes from that original film where Freddy is walking along with his extra long, Stretch Armstrong arms. Everything just seems too realistic and honestly what is the fucking point?

There’s also issue of the new Freddy, both in redesign and story. I know they were trying to go for a face that looked more like an actual burn victim but what they actually came up with was something that looked like more like Lion-O from the Thundercats or maybe some kind of diseased Na’vi. Just something about the design of the nose and eyes made Freddy seem particularly feline this time around. He does still have his fedora, stripey sweatshirt and, of course, the clawed glove so that’s something I suppose. As for what they attempt to do with the story, well, it’s just bizarre.

You see about an hour into this film they toy with the idea that perhaps Freddy was innocent of his crimes. The problem is that whether or not this is true actually gets resolved pretty quickly afterwards. Of course it does because, well, you’ve only got a half hour left and you still need to fit in the final battle with Freddy which should take up at least ten or fifteen minutes. So yeah, not really enough time to develop this theory. If they’d introduced the idea a bit earlier in the film, there’s a chance that I’d give a fuck about it either way but as it is it just seems kind of empty and pointless. I should also point out that this time round, Freddy is a paedophile. They always danced around the idea in the original films simply because it was a different time and for some reason people found a child murderer more palatable as a villain than a child molester. So yeah, Freddy is a paedophile and this time he’s taking his revenge on the children who ratted him out.

That’s another problem with this version of the story. In the original Freddy was killing the kids as revenge for what the adults of Springwood had done to him. In this version he’s taking revenge against for what the children had caused to happen to him. It removes the whole ‘sons and daughters paying for the sins of the mothers and fathers’ element that the original had and that just plain sucks. It also makes it hard to see just where the planned two sequels for this film are gonna go since the film ends with only two of the original group of kids surviving.

So what about the performances? Well, the kids are there to serve their purpose and do little else. At no point do you really feel any empathy for them, don’t particularly care whether they live or die. I can remember the actual shock and sadness I felt when Jonny Depp’s character died in the original. He was a character that you had come to know and like and his death came as a genuine shock to me. There’s none of that here. Kids are brought on to be killed or fight Freddy as needed and you don’t connect with them at all. Character development is practically non-existant even for the two main characters.

As for Jackie Earle Haley, well, he tries bless him but that’s a pretty big glove he’s got to fill. I tried hard not to think about Robert Englund when I was watching this but it was impossible. The man is Freddy Krueger and he always will be. Haley said that he wasn’t going to let Englund’s performance influence his but that’s clearly something that ended up going out the window. There are the little, swift movements that Haley performs with Freddy’s gloved hand that are just too reminiscent of Englund’s Freddy to have not come from his performance. Towards the beginning of the film Haley does manage to be quite creepy and menacing but by the end it seems that the film-makers forgot that they were going to take away the comic of elements of Freddy because by that point his wise-cracking and punning it up just like he used to. It’s a complete shift in the character and it just doesn’t gel. Either stick to your guns and make Freddy a grim and dark character or have him quipping from the start. You can’t have it both ways especially after the earlier statements you had made.

So what can I say to wrap things up? Honestly, the film was just another subpar remake of a horror classic that we all know and love. Yes, there were times that Jackie Earle Haley worked but at the end of the day it’s impossible not to judge him against Robert Englund, no matter how hard I tried, and he’s just not Freddy. What they needed to do was either completely change the tone of the character, like they said they would or acknowledge Englund’s influence. You can’t just try and do both and hope that people won’t care. So, yeah, it’s fair to say I disliked this film and really apart from the few times that Haley shines, there really is no reason to watch it. One pint out of five. Laterz.



In The Not Too Distant Future: RoboCop 3 by Jamie

RoboCop 1 Review is here, RoboCop 2 review is here

Ok, so here’s the review of the third film in the series, the one which I said would be up the day after the review of the second film. I don’t know why but for some reason when ever I say something will be up the next day, they rarely ever are. I should probably just saying that they will be. Seems to be more likely that I’ll keep to my schedule if I don’t plan on having one. Anyway, let’s begin.

So, RoboCop 3 was made in 1993 and was directed by Fred Dekker. Now the first thing you’ll notice if you take a look at the UK DVD box set is that, whilst the first two films are rated 18, this film is a 15. Gone are the scenes of extreme violence that had been kind of a hallmark of the first RoboCop films. You won’t see anyone’s hand explode or any surgeons removing the brain, eyes and spinal chord of someone like we’d seen previously.

Also gone is Peter Weller, the role of RoboCop this time being played by Robert John Burke. It’s really disappointing. Burke doesn’t have the mechanical movements anywhere near as well as Weller, he doesn’t pull off the character as well, though there’s less for RoboCop to really do, and his mouth is blatantly different. That’s not really something that can be helped I suppose. Speaking of people’s mouths when they’re wearing masks, doesn’t Christian Bale have a weird little puckered mouth that the Batman mask just accentuates? Maybe it’s just me.

It does have to be said though that without the RoboCop helmet, Murphy does still look quite a lot like Peter Weller. I don’t know if Burke actually resembles Weller that much in real life or if it’s prosthetics of some kinds since they obviously made moulds of Weller’s heads for the earlier films. I guess I’ll never know since there is neither a making of or a commentary included on the DVD and I really don’t care enough to search around the internet trying to find out.

So let’s get down to the plot then. What is RoboCop 3 about? Well, this time OCP, with it’s brand new CEO played by Rip Torn, is trying once more to build Delta City where Old Detroit still stands. This time they are being aided by a Japanese company named the Kanemitsu Corporation who have bought a controlling stake in OCP, so I guess they’re not so much being helped as they are being bought out and continuing with the old companies plan. Or something. I don’t understand business.

In order to carry out this plan OCP has created a new armed force in the guise of the Urban Rehabilitators who are headed by the very English Paul McDaggett (John Castle) who it will turn out is the pieces main villain. That’s right America! Never forget who your first enemies were! And one day, when the time is right, our tiny island nation with will claim back what is rightfully ours! Ahem. Sorry about that. Seem to have gone quite mad for a second there. Where was I?

Oh yes, so the Urban Rehabilitators, or Rehabs for short, are going in to Old Detroit and forcibly removing people from their homes. A few homeowners don’t take too kindly to this and decide to form some kind of Rebel Alliance. They go underground stockpiling weapons and the like and are accompanied by one of the most annoying movie character archetypes of all time, the genius kid who’s unfeasibly good at using computers. God I hate those characters. The character of Lex and her l33t hacking skillz are one of the few things that annoyed me about Jurassic Park. So if it annoys me in a good movie, then you know that in a film that I’m not particularly fond of, it’s really gonna piss me off. And it does. Immensely.

Anyway, whilst RoboCop is trying to defence some of these people from Rehab agents, his long-time partner Lewis is killed by Dagget. This leads to RoboCop joining the resistance along with his ladt scientist friend who maintain him, herself having grown disillusioned with the terrible things OCP are doing. In the end the resistance is also joined by the Detroit Police Department and a war occurs between the resistance and the Rehabs. RoboCop gains the power of flight, Dagget is killed and the day is saved.

The main problem with this film is that it feels like a pale imitation of the rest of the series. Once more the interludes from the news team are back but now they don’t seem anywhere near as effective as they once were. I’m also tempted to say that if there had never been RoboCop 1 and 2 then this would be a mildly entertaining, mindless sci-fi action film but those films do exist making this just a piss poor entry into the series. One and a half pints out of five.

So that’s it for a look at the RoboCop films of yesteryear. So how good are they at representing the futuristic world we now find ourselves in? Well, let’s take a look at the robots/cyborgs first. The series features cyborgs in the forms of RoboCop and RoboCain. Both were amalgamations of mechanical and organic parts. Now, we’re not exactly at the level where we can recreate these kinds of cyborgs but we’re certainly progressing. There are digital eyes, robotic arms which wire into the nervous system and, slightly more worrying given the ways in which the company tried to control their cyborgs in the series, an entire array of remote controlled animals.

As for robots, well, robots have certainly come along way since their ancestors crawled out of the primordial ooze in the forms of devices such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners. There are bands made up of robots, BIGDOG, the frankly disturbing looking robotic beast of burden and once more, an entire array of robotic animals. There are even robots you can have sex with. Warning, the following video is probably not suitable for minors or people who are disturbed by people talking about the wonders of having sex with something that looks like an ugly plastic corpse:

All I know is that I’m not putting my cock anywhere near something that is described as having motors, servos and something called an accelarometer. So yeah, we’re clearly not at ED-209 level of robotics either although ED-209 did shoot the shit out of people so maybe that’s a good thing.

Still, as I said in the first RoboCop review, we’re not really sure exactly when these films are supposed to take place. I supposed that they were probably set somewhere between 2000 and 2050 simply because of the things that have changed and the things that haven’t, so there’s still 40 years worth of scientific discovery and development to go and, honestly, at the rate with which discoveries in these fields are occurring, I wouldn’t be surprised if maybe we had caught up with the technology of RoboCop within that time period and that would be cool.

So I suppose I can’t really finish this without talking about the proposed remake of the original RoboCop. Well, I was actually kind of interested in this one what with the news that Darren Aronofsky, director of 2008’s awesome ‘The Wrestler’ was slated to direct. This seems, however, to have completely fallen apart thanks to MGM wanting the new RoboCop to be a 3D film. Aronofsky has no interest in making such a film and rightfully so. The story of RoboCop is interesting enough that it doesn’t need a shitty gimmick like 3D. I can just imagine a ten second head-on shot of ED-209 as he sprays thousands of 3D bullets into the audience. Oh what fun it won’t be. So yeah, I guess you could say my interest has wavered ever so slightly with this news. I just hope MGM and Aronofsky can come to some kind of agreement and make the awesome remake that RoboCop deserves.

Well, that’s probably it for RoboCop. Laterz.




%d bloggers like this: