Cinepub


5 Short Paragraphs About Avatar by Jamie

This is a short word on Avatar, which I watched last night. It was a very, very impressive film visually. I thought that the performances were all pretty damn solid and in some cases exceptional. I think the care that James Cameron has taken in creating Pandora is incredible, the fauna and flora of the world is amazing for the most part.

The last hour or so was especially breathtaking, some of the most amazing things I have ever seen on screen. However, I do not think Avatar is my favourite film of the year. I wasn’t that impressed with the 3D. This may be because I haven’t had my eyes tested in a while and I need better glasses but whenever focus shifted it looked very odd. I also found the story to be a little cliché and cheesy, but hey, it’s James Cameron so those elements were always gonna be there. The difference between him and a lesser director is that he can take a cheesy and clichéd story and do it well.

However, I did find myself bored with some of the earlier parts of the film and again, this may have had something to do with the cinema going experience rather than the film itself. We weren’t sitting in an ideal place within the theatre and when my neck and back start to ache, I lose patience with a film far quicker than I normally would. Still there were times when it seemed like Cameron was saying ‘Look, look at what I have made! Look upon my works ye mighty and despair!’ whilst letting story fall to the wayside. Still, when it does pick up, it picks up big.

So there you go. I certainly enjoyed the film but at the moment, I’m reserving full judgement until I see it again. I might try and see it in 3D again and try and get better seats to see if that’s the only reason I was a little bored early on. I think I might also try and see it in 2D as well. Until then, I’ll see you laterz.

Ooh, two last things. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud when I heard the word Unobtanium, even though it turns out it is a real scientific term. Also, The fact that some of the animals roar with sound effects from Jurassic Park will always take me out of the movie. In particular the large carnivore which uses the iconic T-Rex roar. Laterz.



Last Year In Film: Frost/Nixon by Jamie

I am an all round geek. A jack of all geek trades and a master of none and one of the facets that makes up that geek whole is political geekery. I first started to become interested in politics around the time that George W. Bush came to power as the president of the United States and so my interest has always been with American politics, which is far, far more interesting than our rather underwhelming British system, and in particular the dark, shadier side of the political scene.

It should be no surprise then that Richard M. Nixon is a particularly fascinating figure to me. His name has become synonymous with political corruption, scandal and abuse of power. There are many who blame him for thousands, even millions, losing faith in the democratic establishment and the political process. The Watergate scandal shook the American system to it’s very core and even today it’s ramifications are felt, so much so that the suffix -gate is attached to almost every political scandal.

Three years after Nixon resigned from the presidency, Nixon agreed to be interviewed by British talk show host David Frost, for the sum of $60,000 and 20% of the profit. The film Frost/Nixon, directed by Ron Howard and starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, tells the story of those interviews. Now, I’ll admit it doesn’t sound like the most exciting subject matter for a film but bear with me.

This film is fucking awesome. I cannot impress upon you just how good it is. I remember seeing the trailer at the cinema, possibly before Oliver Stone’s W and I was instantly interested but the trailer did give me the impression that it was heavily, heavily overly dramatised and I’ll admit that having seen the film it most certainly is but to be fair what do you want? It’s a movie, it has to have heightened drama.

The performances are incredible. Michael Sheen is perfect as portraying the young David Frost, a cocky playboy type filled with confidence who you should probably find annoying but he remains insanely likeable. Sheen also has Frost’s voice down perfectly and, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve grown up knowing Frost as the older gentleman he is today, I’d probably forget I was watching someone else portray him.

Frank Langella delivers a powerhouse performance as Richard Nixon. Ugh, I feel disgusted with myself having read that sentence. Let me try again. Frank Langella fucking rules as Richard Nixon. There much better. He manages to convey a strange mixture of devious intelligence, ignorance and genuine sadness to create a Nixon who is so more compelling than the one-dimensional prick who people are generally thinking of when they talk about the former president.

Rounding out the cast are Matthew Macfadyen as Frost’s producer John Brit, Oliver Platt as journalist Bob Zelnick, Sam Rockwell as journalist James Reston Jr, Rebecca Hall as Frost’s love interest Caroline Cushing and Kevin Bacon as Nixon’s Chief of Staff Jack Brennan. The cast is all pretty good but Rockwell and Bacon really stand out. Rockwell plays Reston as a man who clearly feels as though Nixon has twisted the very concept of Democracy and must be made to confess and Bacon is great playing a man who’s dedicated to Nixon until the end and seems to genuinely believe that the former president is a great, great man that the American people never appreciated as he deserved.

The film runs to about two hours but it never loses it’s pace, even during some of the long pauses during the interviews themselves. In fact these pauses are integral to the interviews, particularly during the last one and manage to rack up the tension as if you were watching a kind of Mexican stand-off and in a way you are. Several times throughout the characters refer to the interviews as battles and that’s the way they seem especially, once more, that final interview about the Watergate scandal. The only difference is that instead of guns they are using words.

Now, if there’s one complaint I have about the film it’s the occasional intrusion of the main storyline by short little, pseudo-documentary interviews. It features the actors portraying the characters discussing the events that have just happened in the film and at times it can really take you out of the film. It’s certainly an interesting idea and at times, it can work by giving a sense of the story going on around the main storyline without intruding on it with unnecessary sub-plots but at times it can come off as superfluous and some of these scenes feel almost like they were just used as padding to build up the running time.

Ooh, now I think of it, there is one complaint I’ve heard and that’s the historical accuracy of the film, in particular the Watergate interview. I can’t really speak to that, I’m afraid as although I have the interviews on DVD I haven’t watched them in a good few months and I have the recall of a goldfish who has repressed most of it’s memories. Probably should have watched them again before I watched this. Nevermind. I’ll probably watch them again later and if it turns out that the Watergate interview is radically different from the way it’s portrayed in the film then those intrusive interviews will probably take me out of the film even more than they did before.

All that having been said though, I really do recommend this film particularly if you have even a passing interest in politics. It really does manage to give you a sense of how people felt about Nixon at the time and just why distrust towards the system, particularly in America, is so rampant today. I can’t wait for the sequel Frost/Skeletor in which Frank Langella reprises his role as the The Evil Lord Of Destruction and answers tough questions on whether or not he let down the people of Eternia during his ill-fated invasion of Castle Greyskull. Until then I give Frost/Nixon four and a half pints out of five.

Laterz.



Review: Terminator Salvation by Jamie
Review: Terminator: Salvation
Disclaimer: Spoilers have been avoided, where possible but some might have slipped out here and there.
Terminator: Salvation is a very difficult film to review. I can adequately judge whether or not it lived up to my expectations because, in all honestly, I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were. I knew going in that this would be substantially different than any other Terminator film, dealing as it does with the post-Judgement Day war rather than time travel, and so all the film really needed to do was show a few major battles between humans and robots and I probably would have been sated. Did the film deliver on this? Not quite.
The film does deliver on special effects, for the most part, with massive explosions, giant robots and the classic skeletal Terminators. There’s even an appearance from a CGI Arnie, a scene which I couldn’t help but smile at. There are massive explosions, robo-bikes and air raids galore but it seems to feel as though there’s much more show than substance here.
A great example of this is pretty much the whole first half of the movie. There’s plenty of action sequences with giant robots and flying machines but the whole thing seems boring. In fact, my biggest complaint about the film as a whole is that it seemed to take a damn long time to get into. Seriously, how do you fuck up so badly that you make robots blowing shit up boring?
Another thing that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about is the fact that neither John Connor or Kyle Reese are the main character in this film. That goes instead to a new character named Marcus Wright. Ok, so here comes a spoiler… kind of. To be honest if you haven’t worked this out fairly early on in the film for yourself then you’re a moron. Marcus is a cyborg. Human brain, human heart, robot/human hybrid nervous system and a Skynet chip attached to his brain. His storyline is basically the same one that we’ve seen in things like Battlestar Galactica and even, to some extent, Terminator 2, what does it mean to be human? Is it your birth/creation that defines you or is it your actions? It’s an interesting concept to be sure but it’s explored so much better in the previous two examples for one simple reason. Marcus Wright has a human brain ergo he’s a human. Simple as. Oh and is human heart, is a very strong, powerful heart. Trust me, that’ll be important later.
Marcus also brings about what is, in my opinion, the worst special effects in the film. Part of his face is blown away revealing the metallic skull beneath and it just looks shit. I can’t exactly place my finger on why but it looks so strange and unrealistic and far, far worse than similar effects in the first two films. I don’t understand why it was so difficult to pull it off. I guess it just goes to show yet again that sometimes physical effects are more effective in certain situations than computer-generated ones.
Christian Bale is pretty much Christian Bale in this, playing the part well though in some scenes he just seems to be going through the motions. Anton Yelchin is pretty good as Kyle Reese though he doesn’t really have that much to do past the halfway point of the film and, despite my general dislike for the character, Sam Worthington was pretty good as Marcus Wright. Perhaps the worst actor was Common who thankfully only had a small part. Seriously Hollywood, not all rappers need to become actors. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most of them don’t. Seriously.
So to sum up, first half fairly boring, picks up in the second. Story is pretty much lacking as is character development but it’s probably still better than you’re average summer blockbuster mindless action flick and I can pretty much guarantee you it’ll be better than Transformers 2.  At least I could tell what was going on during the action scenes (except for the opening one. That one seemed almost Bay-esque.) Overall I think it’s worth a watch just for the second half and CGI Arnie. That was pretty fucking awesome. Now I’ll finish this review with some minor gripes that’ll make much more sense once you’ve seen the film.
Ok, why do the Robo-Bikes have a USB port and why are they constructed so that someone would be able to ride them? Why is it that, despite it being a dark, grimy future everyone has impeccable teeth? How come a bunch of people can stand in the middle of SkyNet’s command post without being swarmed by Terminators? And why is it that John Connor doesn’t realise that if Kyle Reese is killed before being sent back in time, Judgement Day won’t happen? Sure John, you won’t be born but then a Terminator won’t be sent back in time to stop Kyle and Cyberdine will never find the chip and design SkyNet in the first place. Damn, Terminator time travel logic fucks my mind. Laterz.
Disclaimer: Spoilers have been avoided, where possible but sometimes, they just can’t be.

Terminator: Salvation is a very difficult film to review. I can adequately judge whether or not it lived up to my expectations because, in all honestly, I’m not entirely sure what my expectations were. I knew going in that this would be substantially different than any other Terminator film, dealing as it does with the post-Judgement Day war rather than time travel, and so all the film really needed to do was show a few major battles between humans and robots and I probably would have been sated. Did the film deliver on this? Not quite.

The film does deliver on special effects, for the most part, with massive explosions, giant robots and the classic skeletal Terminators. There’s even an appearance from a CGI Arnie, a scene which I couldn’t help but smile at. There are massive explosions, robo-bikes and air raids galore but it seems to feel as though there’s much more show than substance here.

A great example of this is pretty much the whole first half of the movie. There’s plenty of action sequences with giant robots and flying machines but the whole thing seems boring. In fact, my biggest complaint about the film as a whole is that it seemed to take a damn long time to get into. Seriously, how do you fuck up so badly that you make robots blowing shit up boring?

Another thing that I’m not entirely sure how to feel about is the fact that neither John Connor or Kyle Reese are the main character in this film. That goes instead to a new character named Marcus Wright. Ok, so here comes a spoiler… kind of. To be honest if you haven’t worked this out fairly early on in the film for yourself then you’re a moron.

Marcus is a cyborg. Human brain, human heart, robot/human hybrid nervous system and a Skynet chip attached to his brain. His storyline is basically the same one that we’ve seen in things like Battlestar Galactica and even, to some extent, Terminator 2, what does it mean to be human? Is it your birth/creation that defines you or is it your actions? It’s an interesting concept to be sure but it’s explored so much better in the previous two examples for one simple reason. Marcus Wright has a human brain ergo he’s a human. Simple as. Oh and is human heart, is a very strong, powerful heart. Trust me, that’ll be important later.

Marcus also brings about what is, in my opinion, the worst special effects in the film. Part of his face is blown away revealing the metallic skull beneath and it just looks shit. I can’t exactly place my finger on why but it looks so strange and unrealistic and far, far worse than similar effects in the first two films. I don’t understand why it was so difficult to pull it off. I guess it just goes to show yet again that sometimes physical effects are more effective in certain situations than computer-generated ones.

Christian Bale is pretty much Christian Bale in this, playing the part well though in some scenes he just seems to be going through the motions. Anton Yelchin is pretty good as Kyle Reese though he doesn’t really have that much to do past the halfway point of the film and, despite my general dislike for the character, Sam Worthington was pretty good as Marcus Wright. Perhaps the worst actor was Common who thankfully only had a small part. Seriously Hollywood, not all rappers need to become actors. In fact, I’d go so far as to say most of them don’t. Seriously.

There are some good things to be said for this film though, paticularly in the second half. Things really begin to pick up and the T-800 series of Terminators is finally brought to life. I also really like the previous model, the T-600’s who seem to ahve rotting or melted flesh on their metal skull. They are also a little bulkier than their sleeker brothers and lumbering killer robots are always cool. There’s also some nice nods to previous films such as utterances of classic lines like “Come with me if you want to live,” and “I’ll be back”, the afforementioned CGI Arnie and a brief snippet of “You Could Be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. Very nice.

So to sum up, first half fairly boring, picks up in the second. Story is pretty much lacking as is character development but it’s probably still better than you’re average summer blockbuster mindless action flick and I can pretty much guarantee you it’ll be better than Transformers 2.  At least I could tell what was going on during the action scenes (except for the opening one. That one seemed almost Bay-esque.) Overall I think it’s worth a watch just for the second half and CGI Arnie. That was pretty fucking awesome. Oh, and it’s still better than Terminator 3.  Now I’ll finish this review with some minor gripes that’ll make much more sense once you’ve seen the film.

Ok, why do the Robo-Bikes have a USB port and why are they constructed so that someone would be able to ride them? Why is it that, despite it being a dark, grimy future everyone has impeccable teeth? How come a bunch of people can stand in the middle of SkyNet’s command post without being swarmed by Terminators? Where the fuck were the skeleton strewn streets that we’d seen in previous Terminator films? And why is it that John Connor doesn’t realise that if Kyle Reese is killed before being sent back in time, Judgement Day won’t happen? Sure John, you won’t be born but then a Terminator won’t be sent back in time to stop Kyle and Cyberdine will never find the chip and design SkyNet in the first place. Damn, Terminator time travel logic fucks my mind. Laterz.




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