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Generation X – Part 3: Squeeze by Jamie

Generation X: Squeeze (Production No. 1×02)

Written By Glen Morgan & James Wong, Directed By Harry Longstreet.

BBC Air Date: 03/10/1994

Well we finally come to the first of the ‘Monster of the Week‘ episodes of the X-Files and what a monster it is. First, the synopsis. Scully is asked to help on mysterious murder case by an old friend Agent Colton (Donal Logue). The cases are mysterious due to the fact that there seems to be no obvious point of entry and the liver is torn from each victim with the killers bare-hands. Mulder joins the investigation with his own theories and immediately gets Colton‘s back up. They apprehend a subject and, when Mulder introduces some of his own questions during a lie detector test, Colton officialy gets him taken off the investigation and the suspect, Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchins), is set free . Mulder, believing Tooms to be a genetic mutant who needs livers in order to hibernate for decades at a time, continues anyway since the case has some similarities to one of his X-Files and Scully decides to side with him instead of Colson. In the end, of course, it turns out that Mulder was right and they finally capture Tooms again.

This episode was one of the first that gave us the sense that The X-Files was going to be something more than aliens and abductions all the time and thank fuck for that. I mean, seriously, the whole over-arching mythology is alright in small doses but there is no way in hell I‘d be able to take that for an entire series. Really, it‘s these Scooby Doo-esque episodes which make the series, especially later when the mythology just becomes bloated and convoluted.

So, allow us then to delve deeper into this episode. There are some awesome moments held within. Mulder in particular is in top form. There are some great character moments when he’s dealing with Agent Colton who basically seems to view Mulder as a fucking joke. One of the first questions Colton asks Mulder if he suspects little green men are responsible for the murders. Mulder responds completely straight faced that the little men are in fact grey, from Reticula and that they are notorious for the extraction of human livers due to an iron deficiency in the Reticulan galaxy. He then asks him if he knows what liver and onion goes for in the Reticulan galaxy before turning around and doing his fucking job like a real FBI agent. This episode also features on of Mulder‘s classic lines after realising he‘s just put his hand in human bile, “Is there anyway I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?” Classic Mulder.

It‘s also nice to see Scully siding with Mulder in this episode, having had enough of Colton constantly bad mouthing him. It‘s clear that, though she may not agree with all of his ‘spooky‘ ideas, she does have a certain amount of respect for him and regards him as a partner who she is loyal to. You also get to see her kicking the ass of a killer mutant who has already killed several people showing that she‘s more than just an expert in medical science. She‘s also an expert in Ass-Kickery.

Finally onto Tooms himself. This really needed to be a strong episode in order to show that The X-Files could be more than that show about aliens and stuff and thankfully it was. This was mainly down to the character of Eugene Victor Tooms, a genetic mutant who is over one hundred years old, eats human livers in order to allow him to hibernate for periods of thirty years and also has the ability to stretch and squeeze into tiny places. That is a fucking awesome concept for a monster and it‘s the reason that Tooms remained one of the series favourite villains despite only appearing in two episodes.

I did always feel a little sorry for Tooms though. I got the impression that if he didn‘t get those livers and enter his hibernation, he‘d wither and die. Of course if he‘d just end up aging naturally at the same speed as everyone else or at a much faster rate is up for debate I suppose. You also do get the strong impression that Tooms does quite enjoy his little acts of murder.

Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable episode that kicks of the whole ‘Monster of the Week‘ concept and kicks it off strong, deepens the characters of both Mulder and Scully and presents an awesome villain. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.



Generation X: Part 2 – Deep Throat by Jamie

Generation X: Deep Throat (Production No. 1×01)

Written By Chris Carter, Directed By Robert Mandel.
BBC Air Date: 19/09/1994

In this episode Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance of an Air Force Colonel and a possible cover-up involving crashed UFO’s, hybrid experimental aircraft and a pseudo-Area 51. Mulder is warned to stay away from this case by a mysterious man in a bar bathroom, the titular Deep Throat, but decides to investigate anyway. He comes closer to the truth than he ever has before but also comes to experience first hand the kind of power that those behind the conspiracy wield.

There, I think I’ve got that little problem with my synopses going on forever sorted at last. Anyway, on with the review. This is the first full on episode of the X-Files complete with theme tune, opening credits sequence and is the introduction of Mark Snow as the series composer. I have to say that I really do love that theme. It just sums up the feel of the series, evoking the feeling of creepiness and mysteriousness that comes with dealing with the paranormal.

Now, this whole episode draws heavily from the myths surrounding the top secret US Air force base, Area 51 or Groom Lake even going so far as to have a parallel to the Little Ale’Inn, which is just down the road from Area 51, in the form of the Flying Saucer Restaurant. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just go ahead and use the name Area 51? I mean, they use the real name in later episodes, including some brilliant ones that have Michael McKean making a special guest appearance. Anyway the point is that if you’re blatantly just going to use Area 51, just call it fucking Area 51.

This episode also has some great examples of some early 90s CGI in the form of a hovering triangle that has a few bright lights. Of course it’s easy to look at it now and comment about how shitty and cheesy it looks by today’s standard. We think we’re so fucking great with our ‘Avatars’ and our ‘Iron Mans’. We sicken me. Anyway, I’m sure that little nine year old me was suitably impressed watching it in the darkened living room of our house. I bet I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The most worrying thing is that it actually looks about as good as some of the CGI effects I’ve seen in the incredibly recent series ‘Spartacus: Blood And Sand’. Damn that show’s cheap looking.

As for what goes on in the episode, well, there are a few key scenes. The introduction of Deep Throat is a pretty big one and I’ll delve into that a little bit later. What you really get is an idea of the clashes between the personalities of the two agents but also how dedicated they are to ensuring each others safety. You also get an idea of just how dedicated Mulder is to trying to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy, going so far as to break into a top secret military facility and strolling onto the runway to get a better look. Honestly it’s pretty fucking stupid for someone who’s apparently a Cambridge educated FBI agent but what’re you gonna do? This is a series that kinda hinges on suspension of disbelief.

As far as being a ‘Mythology’ episode this one isn’t as bad as later ones would become. It doesn’t have the huge, convoluted history behind it so it’s still a bit light and generally an easy watch. Since it also has a separate mystery going on beside the mythology stuff, it manages to keep you interested whereas I think that some of the later ones that had Mulder and Scully investigating the conspiracy for the sake of investigating it lacked that aspect.

Finally I’ll just go back to the fact that this episode introduces us to the character of Deep Throat, obviously based on, and possibly intended to be, the Deep Throat who leaked information during the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat was the first of many informants that would approach Mulder and do what seemed as little as possible in order to aid him in the quest for the truth. His first scene is a little odd. He approaches Mulder in the bathroom of the bar and advises him not to investigate the case as the military won’t look to kindly on an FBI investigation. I don’t know about you but if an older gentleman ever approaches me in a bar bathroom and his name is Deep Throat then I’m getting the fuck out of there. Still, he’s an important character and does help in providing some information on the conspiracy without which we’d probably be as lost as Mulder. He also finishes the episode with a fantastic line. When Mulder ask him if ‘they‘ have really are here on Earth, he responds with “Mr. Mulder, they have been here for a long, long time.” Awesome.

Overall it’s a decent enough episode if not just a bit average. I’ll give it three pints out of five. Laterz.



Generation X: A Look Back At The X-Files: Part 1 – Pilot by Jamie

It’s hard to imagine now just how big The X-Files was back in the 90s. It permeated everything and as a result the 90s was also a time filled with bullshit about the paranormal and conspiracy theories. Every week it seemed as though there was some special documentary about the Roswell Incident or whether or not the moon landings were faked. Still, as much as the X-Files was responsible for a lot of belief in complete and utter bullshit I feel as though it’s also responsible for the Sceptical movement coming to such prominence over the past 10 years or so as people battle tirelessly to undo the damage the show has done.

The show started on September 10, 1993 in the US and came to the UK in 1994. I was but a young lad of 9 when it first started and I distinctly remember watching it from the beginning and, like so many others, I completely bought into the paranormal and believed in practically all aspects of it until really quite recently. I gobbled up those documentaries, read book after book and had quite an extensive collection of magazines that dealt with the subject. Still much in the same way that the X-Files is probably at least partially responsible for the growing sceptical movement, it’s probably also the reason that I am a sceptic now myself. Without it I probably would have never paid much attention to the paranormal and so wouldn’t care about ridiculous beliefs in it either way.

The X-Files influence on me doesn’t end there either. The X-Files is possibly responsible for my having a ridiculously large DVD collection. When the series began to be released on the new format I bought them as soon as each one was released. It pretty much gave me the collecting bug and from then I was pretty much fucked and doomed to have a collection far beyond the size of anything that I really should.

So keeping the massive effect the series has had on my life in mind and considering the fact that I haven’t really watched them for years, I’ve decided to go back, revisit the show and review every damn episode. Why? Well because an undertaking of this magnitude will probably cut into my movie viewing somewhat (not to say that this will completely overtake the blog, there will still be movie related things of course including some big video things that I’ve got planned) and it’s a good excuse to have a consistent stream of things to post. Let’s get underway.

Pilot (Production No. 1X79)

Written By Chris Carter, Directed By Robert Mandel.
BBC Air Date: 19/09/1994

So then, this is it where it all begins with the imaginatively titled pilot episode, ‘Pilot’. It’s our first introduction to many a character including the Cigarette Smoking Man, their boss who isn’t Skinner at this point and, of course, Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. It’s pretty obvious that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson pretty much had the characters down from the beginning. Mulder is the sarcastic, witty and all around charming guy and Scully is the sceptical, scientific and slightly serious character that they would pretty much remain throughout the entirety of the series. The only major difference is that in this episode Scully seems a little more open to Mulder’s point of view and a little quicker to accept his paranormal explanation then she would in later episodes.

There are a few things which mark this out as a pilot. For example the iconic theme music is no where to be found at all in this episode. There’s not even an opening credit sequence, instead just a black screen filled with large white letters exclaiming that ‘The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts.’ Of course they are.

Still, other then that there’s not really that much to distinguish this from and average episode. We hear how Mulder discovered the X-Files and the story of how he saw his sister Amanda being abducted by aliens for the first time but it doesn’t really seem like the big thing that it would become later in the series, more like an event that just led to his interest in these kind of cases.

Now the story of the first episode is essentially that a small town has had a rash of unexplainable deaths, each one involving the graduating class of the local high school. Mulder and Scully go off to investigate after Scully is assigned to work with Mulder, essentially being instructed to keep an eye on exactly what he‘s up to. Mulder seems to believe that extra-terrestrials are somehow involved in the case. As they are driving towards the town the radio and clock in their car go a bit haywire and Mulder pulls over, marking the spot with a big red X.

They begin to investigate the deaths much to the chagrin of the local sheriff and medical examiner who both seem to know more then they’re letting on, arousing Scully’s suspicions. They visit two of the graduating classes remaining survivors in a hospital finding one in a wheelchair and the other in a vegetative state due to a vehicular accident that both were involved in. Mulder notices that both have strange marks on their body and decides to exhume the body of one of the former victims in order to see if it has similar marks upon it.

What they discover in the coffin is a little bit of a shock as it doesn’t appear to be the body of a human but rather that of a desiccated orang-utan. They take some X-Rays of the thing which reveals a small, metallic implant in it’s naval cavity. Mulder decides to go and check out the woods were all these incidents have been occurring… Fuck, I wanted this to be a concise synopsis. Right, on the way back from the woods the two agents experience a blinding flash of white light and seem to have lost nine minutes, a phenomenon generally reported by those who believe that they have been abducted by aliens.

Upon returning to their hotel they find out they receive a mysterious phone call telling them that the girl from the hospital is dead. Whilst investigating this new death, their hotel catches fire, destroying all the evidence they have gathered up to this point which really pisses Mulder off. They meet the person who had phoned them, the medical examiners daughter who it turns out was also part of the graduating class and Mulder begins to suspect that the boy in the vegetative state is involved in the murders. A visit to the hospital reveals he has dirty feet and Scully begins to turn around to Mulder’s way of thinking.

Since the soil samples that they had taken in the woods before had been destroyed in the fire they decide to the woods to gather more, only to find that the sheriff is here. It turns out that he has been tracking his son who is up and about again, having seemingly kidnapped the medical examiner’s daughter. Mulder and the sheriff witness a blinding white light surround the two youngsters whilst Scully is distracted elsewhere. When the light dissipates the two are standing there, the boy apparently aware of his surroundings once more and the mysterious marks having disappeared.

Mulder and Scully return to Washington and she presents her report on Mulder’s activities to her bosses, seemingly taking his side on the case which pisses them off to no end. The episode ends with the Cigarette smoking man putting a metallic implant, the one piece of physical evidence into a box in a massive warehouse filled with boxes probably containing masses of evidence pertaining to the supernatural in a clear homage to Indiana Jones.

So there you go. That’s the first episode of the X-Files and the beginning of, in my personal opinion, one of the greatest on-screen partnerships in all of television history. There are a few things which happen in this episode which I don’t think are ever really mentioned or explained in later episodes primarily whether or not Mulder and Scully where actually abducted. I know they are both abducted at later points in the series but I’m not sure if this experience is ever brought up again. I’m sure I’ll found out as we go along.

Still overall it’s a pretty good episode and is much better than many of the ones that would deal with aliens later on, the so called ‘Mythology’ episodes that dealt with the over-arching conspiracy. This one plays off much more like the preferred ‘Monster-Of-The-Week’ episodes even though their isn’t really a monster. Of particular note is David Duchovny who is fucking hilarious throughout this episode. Almost every other line is some witty or sarcastic remark particularly during the pairs first meeting. It’s good stuff and one of the reason I loved this show.

So there you go. That’s the first part of this ongoing X-periment. Hahaha. Did you see what I did there? I crack me up. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this as I go along and try and tighten up those synopses. Next up is the first of the proper Mythology episodes, ‘Deep Throat’. Until then, laterz.



The Depress-A-Thon: Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father by Jamie

I’m not one for openly showing much in the way of emotion. There are times when I’ll waver between the ups and the downs but as for things like weeping openly, well, it just isn‘t me. This doesn’t seem to apply to movies however. I am, as I’m sure I’ve said before, a bit of a crier when it comes to film. For some reason the over-the-top reality of film just seems more realistic to me. I can’t explain why.

Then there are documentaries which are based on truly horrific real life events. They manage to combine the horror of having these things actually having happened and the over-the-top hyper reality of film. By mentioning the hyper reality of film I don’t in anyway mean that any part of these documentaries are not based in truth but rather I mean that the very nature of films means that you can have many years worth of tragic and terrible events condensed down into an hour and a half, making the experience that much more intense. Such is the case with the subject of today’s review, ‘Dear Zachary: A Letter To A Son About His Father.’

Fuck. This film fucking broke me in ways that I didn’t think possible. It manages to be both a beautiful tribute to a human being that the people in his life genuinely seemed to love and an horrific recounting of a series of tragic events and for that I must say I was truly blown away. The film managed to strike such a perfect balance between two different parts of the story that just seemed to highlight and intensify both.

Right, now I suppose I should go some small way into explaining the basic story of the film without giving away too much. This could be difficult but is absolutely necessary because you simply have to see this film. Might as well just get that out of the way up front. Ok, so the story then. The basic premise is that the film maker, Kurt Kuenne, had a childhood friend, Andrew Bagby, who is murdered by his ex-girlfriend, Shirley Jane Turner. Kuenne decides to travel to visit and interview various friends and relatives of Andrew in an effort to create a kind of video scrap-book for his infant son so he can get an idea of the kind of man that the father he would never know was. Wow. That was a tortuous sentence.

So yeah, that’s all I can really reveal about the plot of the film without giving away many of the twists and turns that cause the emotion to run so high whilst watching this film. What I can say is that the director is certainly a film maker of some talent. He uses some pretty interesting editing techniques to just ramp things up at the appropriate times. In particular his use of dialogue from the various interviews and statements from those involved repeatedly throughout the film in order to massively emphasis a specific point is especially effective.

I’d also be somewhat remiss if I didn’t mention the true heroes of this film David and Kathleen Bagby, Andrew’s parents. Some of the things they go through in this film will have you on the very verge of disbelief. They seem to have the patience of saints despite the horrific trials they are put through on an almost daily basis. And the way they deal with the events of the film at the very end is truly, truly heroic.

If there is one complaint about this film that I could have, it’s this. The director narrates the film and there was something about it that just kept reminding me about the Primus song ‘Mephisto & Kevin’ from the South Park Chef Aid album. I’ve since re-listened to the song and the voices don’t sound that familiar, there’s just something about the talking style and delivery that seems quite reminiscent of it. It’s not really a criticism of the film, just something that bugged me slightly. It’s definitely a problem with me and not the film.

Well, it’s gonna have to be a short one today because going any deeper into it would risk revealing some of the plot points of this truly fantastic film. Was it depressing? Yes, massively so. Did it make me cry? I’m not ashamed to say that it did. Would I watch it again? Surprisingly, yes. There are certainly some films that have been featured in The Depress-A-Thon which I always be hesitant to watch again. The primary examples being ‘Threads’ and ‘Jack Ketchum’s The Girl Next Door’. Still despite this being as depressing as it is, it is also a truly wonderful tribute not only to Andrew but also his truly amazing parents and, for that at least, it is certainly worth watching again. Five pints out of five.



Great Movies, Shitty Games: RoboCop by Jamie

To finish off my recent RoboCop theme type thing, I thought I’d take a look at the RoboCop NES game.



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.



In The Not Too Distant Future: RoboCop 2 by Jamie

Well, yesterday we looked at the ground breaking 1987 sci-fi film, RoboCop. Turns out that it was quite popular and what happens in Hollywood when something is uber-popular? It get’s a sequel of course! It happened with Jurassic Park, it happened with Jaws and for some reason it’s happening with Ghost Rider. And yes, it happened with RoboCop as well.

RoboCop 2 was released in 1990 and was directed by Irvin Kershner who directed many peoples favourite part of the saga set a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, ‘The Empire Strikes Back‘.As for the cast, well, as far as I can tell everyone who wasn’t killed in the first film seemed to return. Peter Weller dons the heavy-ass costume once more and is still awesome as RoboCop. What the hell else has he done anyway? Hmm, ‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across The 8th Dimension’ and a bunch of other things I’ve heard of but never seen. I really should check them out.

(Spoilers Ahead) Anyway, this film is set two years after the undisclosed year of the last film and RoboCop is a hit with all the folks who live in Old Detroit. People like him so much, in fact, that OCP have decided to create a new model called, well, RoboCop 2. Massive points for originality there. Anyway, the problem is that every time they integrate RoboCop 2 with a human brain, it goes crazy and immediately commits suicide, unable to take what’s happened to it. It seems that the reason that Murphy was such a success was his strong dedication to holding up the law and the fact that being a strong Roman-Catholic prevented him from committing suicide. Of course, I thought it was just because they’d wiped Murphy’s memory and his humanity slowly came to the forefront. But hey, whatever.

Whilst all this is happening there is turmoil in the streets. The rest of the police force is on strike after OCP has cut their wages and their pensions, Murphy is essentially stalking his wife, the mayor’s office is in debt to OCP essentially giving the corporation the option to buy out the city and a cult has grown up around a drug called Nuke and a dealer with a messiah complex named Cain.

So the wife situation is sorted when Murphy realises that he’s no longer the man he once was and tells his wife that his face is a reconstruction made in honour of her dead husband. Murphy is then captured by the drug cult and essentially ripped to pieces. His parts are dumped by the striking police officers and he is reprogrammed by OCP with a few hundred new directives which are aimed to make him a more helpful figure in the community as opposed to being just a violent tool in the war on crime.

Murphy’s new programming basically renders him useless as a crime fighter, leading to many wacky situations in which he tries to arrest a corpse and give a lecture to a bunch of kids who are trying to rob a shop on how disappointed there parents must be in them. It’s definitely a different turn from the previous film in which RoboCop existed in a ridiculous, exaggerated world but everything about him and his story were played seriously. It’s not entirely unwelcome though. It provides a few laughs and doesn’t last long enough to become particularly annoying and for some reason it must have really stuck with me. The only bit I remember from watching this movie as a kid is when he shoots around a guy smoking a cigarette and says ‘Thankyou for not smoking.’ Good stuff.

Anyway, Murphy eradicates his new programming by electrocuting himself and decides to go after Cain, the striking cops following him and acting as his army. During the attack Cain is mortally wounded, leaving Hob, a ten year old with a penchant for swearing, and Angie, Cain’s girlfriend, in charge of the drug cult. Meanwhile Dr. Faxx, an OCP psychologist, decides that Cain will be the perfect candidate for the RoboCop 2 program, his crippling addiction to Nuke being a good method of keeping him under control.

Christ, there’s a lot going on in this film when you actually sit down to write about it. Let’s try and wrap this up quickly. Mayor’s office tries to make deal with drug cult in order to get money to keep control of city. RoboCain busts the deal, killing many of the mayor’s aides as well as Angie and Hob. RoboCain goes crazy at the sight of some Nuke during a media junket for OCP as they announce the buying out of the city and the deployment of RoboCop 2. RoboCain shoots the shit out of a bunch of people. RoboCop stops him. Good times all round.

So that’s it in a very large nut shell. There’s still the odd news break here and there but it’s not as effective as when Verehoeven does it. The man just has a way with that kinda shit. It’s no where near as good as the first one but it’s still enjoyable enough. There’s some dodgy stop-motion animation used to bring RoboCain to life but as I said last time, that stuff has a certain charm and can help in portraying the jittery motion of a mechanical object. The computer effects used to portray Cain’s face via a screen on RoboCop 2’s body look especially dated but, well, what can you do?

Perhaps the biggest problem with this film is the dramatic change that occurs within Dan O’Herlihy’s character, the OCP President. In the original film he’s portrayed as a kind old man who truly seems to care about the people in his employ and the people of Old Detroit. In this film he’s just a massive douche bag who does whatever he can to make money and make sure his development plans go through. It’s really quite odd.

In summation, I’d give RoboCop 2, the film not the robot, three pints out of five. Laterz and see you tomorrow. Guess what I’ll be reviewing then. I dare you.



In The Not Too Distant Future: RoboCop by Jamie

Well, it’s officially the uber-futuristic year 2010 where cars fly, boards hover and aliens have welcomed us into the inter-galactic community. What a time to be alive! Oh, wait. None of those things have happened. Thanks a lot assorted movies for lying to me. With that in mind, I’ve decided to take a look at some films from our past that made predictions about our not too distant future. So let’s begin by taking a look at the RoboCop series, a bunch of films which never really state a specific year as to when they’re set but I think it’s safe to assume that it’s some time between the years 2000 an 2050, which is good enough for my purposes. Also, the trilogy box-set was just delivered to my house so this seems to be as good a time as any. As always, massive spoilers ahead.

Now the basic plot of the film goes thusly: Cop chases gang. Gang kill cop. Cop get’s resurrected as Cyborg. Cyborg police officer, RoboCop if you will, battles crime whilst battling the conflict between mechanical and organic within himself. It’s a simple yet awesome concept and it’s directed brilliantly by Paul Verehoeven. If you’ve seen Starship Troopers or Total Recall, then you know that Verehoeven is very good at creating worlds which seem slightly off, layering in things such as TV shows, news broadcasts and advertisements to build what you might call exaggerated versions of our own world.

The same is true throughout RoboCop. Every now and then a news broadcast will break in, updating the viewer not only on what is happening with regard to the plot but also what’s happening elsewhere in the world. For example there’s little stories about a Star Wars laser defence system, rebels fighting Mexican and American troops in Mexico and the white government of South Africa getting neutron bombs. It just crafts a vision of a world that’s going to shit. The adverts and TV shows reinforce this with one ad detailing a battleship-esque game which allows the family to play out a nuclear war. There’s even the bizarre TV show called ‘I’d Buy That For A Dollar’ which everyone seems to love.

But that’s all background, brilliant though it is. What about the meat of the story, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a futuristic Detroit in which the police force is owned by a corporation, OCP. They’re trying to clean up the crime-ridden streets so that they can begin work on turning Old Detroit into the new and improved Delta City. To that effect they’ve begun research into robotic law enforcement. One division has come up with the ED-209 but progress comes to a bit of a halt when a glitch in ED’s programming causes him to shoot the shit out of an OCP executive. Instead the company president turns to the RoboCop program which seems more promising. All the program needs is a ‘volunteer’ and in a city where cop killings are a frequent occurrence, it surely won’t be long until they get one.

Enter Alex Murphy , a recent transferee from a quieter district. He’s partnered with Anne Lewis and heads out on his first beat. Is that what it’s called? Beat? Sounds weird. Ah well, I’m sticking with it now. Anyway, they run afoul of a gang, led by Clarence Boddicker (played by Kurtwood Smith who is fucking awesome) and chase them to an abandoned steel mill… A steel mill which was abandoned with a lot of toxic waste still lying around as we’ll find out later. Anyway, Lewis is incapacitated and the gang capture and shoot the shit out of Murphy. There’s a lot of people who get the shit shot out of them in this film. It really is quite gory in some places, which just makes it all the more awesome.

Anyway, OCP get their ‘volunteer’ and incorporate part of Murphy’s brain and face into the RoboCop. The scene where he’s being built is quite cool, seeing jumps through time through RoboCop’s eyes as they switch him on and off during testing. Finally RoboCop is complete and ready to start his beat… That still doesn’t seem right. Meh. Anyway, he starts to make a difference, cleaning up the streets, averting crimes and making people feel safer. The only problem, from OCP’s perspective, is that he still has some of Murphy left in him. He dreams of his family and of the gang who killed him, eventually causing him to pursue a vendetta.

So RoboCop/Murphy manages to track down Clarence and arrests him. During the arrest Clarence reveals that he’s working for Jones, the executive at OCP who was head of the failed ED-209 program and that Jones ordered him to kill the head of the RoboCop program. So he goes to the company in order to arrest Jones but finds he can’t as a secret part of his programming forbids him from taking action against highers-up within the corporation. A fight with ED-209 ensues and is ended when ED tries to follow Murphy down some stairs. Poor ED.

So Jones has Broddick freed from jail and orders him to take down Murphy, who at this point is on the run, the police believing he has gone haywire. Jones provides the gang with some military artillery and a tracker to help find the mechanical lawman. They track him down to the abandoned steel mill where a fight ensues and one of the greatest on-screen deaths ever occurs.

One of the gangsters attempts to run down Murphy in a van. Murphy shoots at the windscreen, causing the gangster to duck and drive straight into one of those mysteriously abandoned barrels of toxic waste I was talking about earlier. This essentially causes the gangsters skin to begin to melt… No that’s not the right word. I’m not sure what is… sloughs, maybe? Why not. His flesh slowly sloughs from his bones. It’s an horrifically brilliant sight. And then a fucking car hits him and he just explodes in a shower of organic material! It’s fucking awesome! Fuck it, let’s just include a video of it. Viewers of a nervous disposition may not want to click play:

Brilliant! And that horrible, strained noise he makes too. Great stuff.

Anyway, Murphy kills Broddick and goes off to stop Jones who is trying to reinstate the ED program after RoboCop’s apparent malfunction. Still unable to take action against an executive at OCP, Murphy shows a recording of him confessing to the murder of the head of the RoboCop program and the president fires him. This allows Murphy to finally take action against him and he does so, in the form of shooting the shit out of him until he falls out of a window. Awesome.

So that’s basically Robocop. What more is there to say? Peter Weller is fantastic in the role of Murphy/RoboCop. The way that he moves when he’s all cyborged up is so mechanical and deliberate and he manages to pull off the mix of a man with thought and a computer with programming with aplomb. I salute him.

In the end, it’s an incredible film. Sure, some of the effects of ED-209, who’s movements were pretty much all stop-motion animated, look a little dated but I think it adds a charm to the ‘character’ of ED and the animation just seems to make him look more mechanical which always helps when dealing with robots. The other problem is this was made in the 80s. No, that doesn’t sound right.. What I mean is that as with all films dealing with the future, it seems as though the people who made the film assumed the fashions and hairstyles of the time would carry on for decades to come, especially in the 80s. I suppose they can’t really be faulted for that.

There you go then. I love this film, I hope I’ve made that clear, and award it five pints out of five. If you haven’t seen it then you shouldn’t have read this review. It’s full of spoilers. I warned you at the beginning. What were you thinking? Now, go watch it. Oh, and if you’re name is Ed and you haven’t changed your last name to 209 then you either haven’t seen RoboCop or you have far more sense than I would if I were named Ed. Laterz.



Last Year In Film: Slumdog Millionaire by Jamie

As always, spoilers follow.

So this is it then. The big one. The winner of the best picture last year, Slumdog Millionaire. It’s a movie which has a hell of a lot packed into it over the course of two hours. There’s torture, romance, murder, poverty, gangsters, dancing and the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? So did it deserve the awards, the hype, the praise? Let’s find out, won’t we?

The movie’s set in India, specifically Mumbai for the most part and tell the tale of Jamal Malik, his brother Salim and the girl of Jamal’s dreams, Latika, children born in the slums of the city who are all orphaned by a Hindu attack on their Muslim slums. The film follows their journeys over the years, joined at times, separated at others and all told by an older Jamal during an interview with the police. Why is he being interviewed by the police? Well, he’s currently on the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? And he’s doing so well that he’s arrested after his first night on the programme after getting the penultimate question correct, accused of fraud because, honestly, how could someone who grew up on the streets and is currently working as a tea boy possibly know the answers to so many questions? He’s tortured by the police at first and when that doesn’t shed any light on the subject they decided to interview him and he relays that he knows the answers to the questions due to various events throughout his life.

And that’s a bit of a problem I have with this film. It’s a bit damn convenient that the questions are asked in a sequence that would allow his flashbacks to have a coherent narrative. Still, it’s a bit of a minor point especially if you buy into the underlying point of the film that everything that happened was destined to turn out that way.

Now, one of the phrases that got thrown about after this film blew up massively was that it was a feel good hit, a really uplifting experience and I have to call bullshit on that. Every time something good happens, something terrible happens either at the same time or a short time afterwards, Even the moment where Jamal is about to answer the final question is counterbalanced by his brother Salim, who has finally redeemed himself to some extent, being shot the shit out of. As for Salim there are times when he is so unrelentingly cuntish that he’s almost unbelievable as a character but again, it’s kind of a minor point and it’s kinda necessary to push the plot forward.

Still, that’s not to say it’s a depressing film, though many, many depressing things happen during it, such as a young boy being blinded by acid in order to make him a more effective beggar. I just feel as though the uplifting nature of the film has been a little overplayed.

There’s also a general sense throughout the film that India is a horrible, horrible place filled with slums, children living in dumps and being blinded by bastard orphanage owners and I guess I can’t say that it isn’t and it is genuinely rewarding when you see Jamal doing everything he can to get himself out of that world whilst trying to take Latika with him.

Damn, there’s so much going on in this film that I’m finding it hard to write a coherent review so fuck it, I’ll finish here. So, did Slumdog Millionaire deserve the Oscar? Well, it’s a very, very good film. It’s shot beautifully, excellently paced and the actors are all pretty damn good, except for some tourists who seem to have some very dubious accents. Still, personally I’d have given the award to Frost/Nixon which was definitely the film I enjoyed out of the crop of the Best Picture nominees. I‘d probably give Milk an award over this as well. Still, if I had to rate Slumdog Millionaire I’d give it four out of five pints and I still highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t.

So, that’s the Academy Awards Best Pictures nominees covered. Next I’ll be taking a look at the Worst Picture nominees from the Razzies so look forward to reviews of classics such as Disaster Movie and The Love Guru. If blog pages could be stained with tears then these would be…



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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