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Guardians of the Galaxy

At the Movies

gotgBefore seeing this film I was only vaguely aware of the Guardians of the Galaxy since I never regularly followed any space based comics so I had very few preconceptions about this film. This lack of familiarity has been taken into account and Marvel has given us a big colourful space adventure that assumes no previous knowledge and only marginally connects to the other Marvel films. The basic story is that a team of criminals are forced together by circumstances to combat the plans of a genocidal fanatic who threatens all life in the galaxy.

Right from the first appearance of Star Lord (Chris Pratt) this film sets its tone as he dances his way through the ruins of building to steal the Orb. We get a real sense of what sort of idiot this guy is when he picks up a rat creature to use as a mic as he sings along to Come and Get your Love on his battered ancient Sony Walkman. Star Lord’s real name is Peter Quill and he was born on Earth but got kidnapped by space pirates when he was about eight which is where all his dated references and taste in music come from.

Next we meet green-skinned Gamora (Zoe Saldana)  who worked for the villain Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) but has had enough of working for a fanatic and wants to steal the Orb for herself. She was adopted by the Mad Titan Thanos who has manipulated and modified her into a weapon then lent her out to Ronan to assist in his plans for genocide and destruction. She has had enough crap and doesn’t take any more from Star Lord.

The next two come as a pair Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel). Rocket is a smartarse bounty hunter, thief and whatever else it takes to make a living when he’s a creature created in a lab and is only two foot high that looks like a raccoon. Groot is an intelligent tree and very necessary muscle for Rocket’s schemes and he is very strong and able to recover from serious damage. Amazing work has been done to bring these two CGI characters to life in a way that makes it believable that they are there interacting with the live actors it no surprise they are the breakout characters of this film since they manage to not only deliver plenty of laughs they manage to bring some the more emotional moments too

The last member of the five man band they meet in prison and he’s a huge lump of angry muscle called Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista) who has been jailed for going on a campaign of vengeance across the galaxy after his family were killed and now he really wants to kill Ronan. No-one gets most of Star Lord’s jokes but Drax’s culture apparently doesn’t understand metaphor so we get a nice running joke of Drax taking figures of speech literally.

Star Lord convinces them that they can all get what they want if they work together. They can escape prison, sell the Orb and split the money then when Ronan comes after Gamora Drax will get his chance to kill him.

The villain side does not get much focus since the film spends the majority of time with the Guardians. Ronan the Accuser is the chief enforcer of the Kree interplanetary empire and he cannot accept the peace treaty that has been forced on the empire by their enemy the Xandarians. He needs the Orb as the price of gaining the help he needs to take vengeance on Xandar. He is a fanatic so is devoid of humour and I thought he made the perfect foil for the irreverent humour of the Guardians .

Assisting Ronan are Korath (Djimon Hounsou) and Nebula (Karen Gillan). Never really learned much about Korath but Nebula is another one of Thanos’s weaponised adopted daughters and when she fights Gamora there’s a sense of long familiar antagonism. I have mentioned Thanos a few times and though his fingers are all over this story I’ll just say he is firmly in the background and leave it there.

There is no skimping on the supporting cast. The Nova Corps are an interplanetary military style police force based on Xandar led by Nova Prime (Glenn Close). They are the ones who put the Guardians in prison and include actors such as John C. Reilly and Peter Serafinowicz and they really become important in the film’s climax.

Another important group of characters are the space pirates called Ravagers led by Yondu Odontu (Michael Rooker) and these are the ones who snatched Peter Quill from Earth as a boy. Yondu really doesn’t liked being cut out his share of money for the Orb and with his whistle-controlled arrow and gang of cyborg enhanced pirates he’s on Star Lord’s trail.

The set designs in this film are stunning, from the squeaky clean streets of planet Xandar to the prison asteroid called the Kyln, but the most stunning is Knowhere, a lawless trading post set up in the moon-sized head of an ancient being called a Celestial. This is where the Guardians meet The Collector (Benicio Del Toro) and just a glimpse of his collection will make many comic fans happy.

Watching this film is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema this year. The story has a great sense of humour from a team of likeable characters which is a great way of introducing the scale of the greater Marvel universe with its battling empires and maniacal warlords. Every member of the cast do an amazing job bringing these strange characters to life but that’s helped by the familiarity of Star Lord character with his time capsule memories of 1988 pop culture and tapes of music that helps give us Terrans something to connect with.

There is a great deal of buzz about his film and I think that comes from just how refreshing it is to watch a film that just revels in sheer joy of the world it creates. It is such a rich world that I look forward to revisiting it and catching just how many things I missed in my first viewing.

Rating 9.0/10

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Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Detention

Streaming on Netflix

detentionI have already reviewed a film called Detention with a similar basic premise to this film but this has very different style. In fact this film is all about its style and if you find its too-cool-for-school self-aware hipster hilarious then this will be perfect for you. I didn’t like it at all. I think that this film annoyed me so much because it wants desperately to be a cool, culty film but it’s so busy being impressed by itself I felt it vanished up its own fundament.

The hate starts right away with an introduction to some spoilt brat cheerleader character Taylor Fisher (Alison Woods) whose fourth-wall-breaking reality show style narration of herself gets interrupted by the film’s killer in the mask of a cheesy derivative killer Cinderhella from a slasher film series that is popular because it is cheesy trash.

The main character Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) is introduced by a sequence that deliberate echo of the Angela’s introduction and she’s every bit as self-obsessed as Angela but it manifests as self-pity instead of arrogance. She is also cynical and judgemental and it’s this character who put me off the film because I found her insufferable.

Riley goes to high school to meet the other characters who are the usual bunch of clichés that never get deep below the surface of what the barely literate literati use as labels nowadays. There’s Carlton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) who is a bland adolescent but apparently cool because he doesn’t care and is so random and he has a cheerleader girlfriend called Ione (Spencer Locke) who used be Riley’s best friend until she got a bitch implant and of course Riley fancies Carlton because it is in the script.  Carlton has friend called Sander Sanderson (Aaron David Johnson) who is barely formed just like him but a virgin. Of course there has to be a bully and he is  … who the hell cares really he’s a cartoon character defined completely through the eyes of those who are not him and the film just at laughs at its own attempt to give him a backstory and he’s called Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley) just like theBully in Carrie and he’s a football player

There are various background clichés like the nerdy Asian student called Toshiba and the teachers at the school are the various types of caricatures of the types staff that populate the American High School movie such as the cartoonishly angry football Coach and the Headmaster Verge (Dane Cook) who hates all the kids. The story is so busy giving us all these characters and set up before it finally remembers that there is a killer.

There plot with the serial killer is still somewhere in there and he makes a couple of attempts on Riley but no-one believes her until after a drunken party where Billy Nolan gets killed and Verger puts the main cast and supporting characters in detention to prevent them going to the prom. This is the point where the plot starts piling on the absurdity in the hunt for the killer which includes time travel, an alien modified stuffed bear and a threat to the future of the whole world. The story is certainly not lacking in imagination or audacity. There’s an amusing scene where they are watching Cinderhella on an illegal streaming site and there’s a scene in that film with a bunch of students in detention watching an illegal bootleg DVD of a cheesy horror film which in turn has a scene of students in in detention who watch a bootleg VHS tape of a cheesy horror film. It gave me chuckle

I have been pretty negative about this film but I realise it is not being targeted at me. Many people will love this film and I can completely understand that. It has been compared to Scream and Scott Pilgrim vs The World and that is a reasonable comparison but I don’t think it succeeds like those films. I will not be surprised if this becomes a cult films as it will probably find an appreciative audience out there. I’m just not one of them.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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The Zero Theorem

Cinema Review

zero theoremI am one of those who grew up with Monty Python and have enjoyed many of the films of animator turned director Terry Gilliam from Jabberwocky to Brazil and Time Bandits so i was off to the cinema on the opening weekend of his latest film. I had an enjoyable time all right but it didn’t really have some of the emotional punch of his best films

Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is an entity cruncher at a powerful company called Mancorp. This is apparently like number crunching but more complex. Qohen has a strong dislike of commuting to work through the sensory overload of the city streets to the even more chaotic office where he works. He appeals to his supervisor Joby (David Thewlis) to be allowed to work at home but only Management can authorise that. Qohen is obsessed with the notion that one day his phone will ring and the person on the other end will tell him the meaning and purpose of his life and this is why he wants to work from home though he does really hate going outside.

The supervisor invites Qohen to a party where he can meet Management who turns out to be Matt Damon in suits that always match his background but Qohen finds little sympathy from the man. The party is just as chaotic as at the office with everyone bumping into each other as they manipulate phones and tablet computers. A young woman called Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry) tries engaging Qohen in conversation but Qohen just wants go home.

Next day Qohen gets examined by three doctors to see if he is sick and can work from home but that doesn’t seem to go very well so it’s a surprise when Joby tells Qohen that he is getting his wish to work from home on a special project called the Zero Theorem. This is long term project that has apparently been going for years burning out the minds of anyone working on it including Joby. This doesn’t seem to worry Quinn. He gets working on the project but every advance he makes seems to crumble away to nothing and he doesn’t really know what it is he is working on. It turns out that the Zero Theorem is proposition that the universe is meaningless. As he fails to make progress Mancorp send him Bob (Lucas Hedges) a teenage technical wiz to help with any technical issues and Bainsley is sent to help him with psychological emotional problems. The film really does a great job evoking a sense of the world where everyone is hyper connected by technology but Qohen is alone in his converted church. Gilliam likes playing with these ironies and another character later says of Qohen that he’s spent so long looking for the meaning of his life that he has led meaningless empty life

This is a very Gilliam film with a quiet unassuming lead being overwhelmed by a world dominated by trivia and noise. There is no real malevolence or deliberate in the politics of this dystopia, just a sense of decay through apathy, greed, vanity and selfishness. Advertising is intrusive and pervasive and Qohen is constantly being watched by Management. The world is like day-glo daytime version of the urban techno dystopia of Blade Runner but with technology that has a sort of leaky pneumatic feel of Brazil. There is quite a bit of humour especially with Tilda Swinton as a computer psychiatrist called Dr Shrink-ROM that Qohen consults and a pair of violent bungling henchmen who work for Management. It is not going to be a film that will have broad appeal but I enjoyed my visit to Gilliam-land even if the story felt a bit flat at times.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on March 16, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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John Dies at the End

The Hard Drive

photo_08I have been waiting a while to see this film because I’m a fan of director Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm films and the excellent Bubba Ho Tep but like almost all independent films it never got cinema release and the their UK distributor went bust so there’s still no UK release yet but it is available on iTunes so I downloaded it. I heard very mixed reviews but that just intrigued me more. Fortunately my wait was rewarded with a strange quirky film with a good sense of humour and I  have already watched it a few times.

This film is narrated by its main protagonist David Wong (Chase Williamson), a young man who has a meeting with a writer Arnie Blondestone (Paul Giamatti) at a quiet Chinese restaurant. David has something he wants to tell Arnie but the story is so fantastic he is approaching it slowly. The film is basically the stories that David recalls as he talks to Arnie, often in answer to a question from Arnie but there are many asides to the audience too.

There is not a obvious central plot but the stories revolve around the effects of a strange new drug called soy sauce and David’s adventures with his best friend John (Rob Mayes) afte they have taken it. This is a black liquid that seems to move around as if it has life of its own. John gets the drug from a fake Rastafarian who talks bollocks called Robert Marley (Tai Bennett) and he calls David in a panic the morning after. The main effect of the soy is to change the user’s perception of space and time so they can perceive past, present and future in different order. One example is when John is trying to explain this to David and David gets a phone call from John from some other time. One side effect of the soy is the ability to perceive creatures from other dimensions and portals into them.  Now they use their soy abilities to help people who are having strange problems and we it has other properties and other sinister secrets.

There’s a plot of sorts involving a police detective (Glynn Turman) who is investigating the deaths a group of soy users who all exploded including Robert Marley but this only a small part of the film. There’s a charismatic TV psychic Dr Albert Marconi (Clancy Brown) who helps the boys out with guidance and practical assistance when the boys find themselves in over their heads. There’s also a strange intense man called Roger North (Doug Jones) who seems to be wanting to guide the boys.

The lack of overall plot wasn’t too much of problem for me because I liked the characters and their sense of humour. It is a stoner horror and there is a sense that like other stoner films this film is a series of stories linked only by the characters and mood and the conversation between David and Arnie. The effects are weird more than horrific with a mixture of CGI and physical effects with puppets etc and they help create a dreamlike quality to this film that is similar to the feel of the other films Coscarelli has done. I Like the quirky sense of humour and think I’l be watching the film a lot and as a bonus the music is pretty good too.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on January 28, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Gremlins

The Bluray Shelf Xmas Special

gremlins bluray 001

How could something so sweet and cute get a 15 certificate?

This is a popular Xmas film but has a dark streak of humour  that may be a little too grown-up for younger members of the audience even if Gizmo looks like a sweet kiddie friendly ball of fluff. I loved this film the first time I saw it with its Looney Tunes inspired comedy from Joe Dante and I even seem to be one of the few who also enjoyed the even more comedic Gremlins 2

An inventor Randall Peltzer (Hoyt Axton) goes to Chinatown in some city to get his teenage son Billy a Christmas present. A  young Chinese boy promises him that he’ll find something at his grandfather’s junk shop. Randall uses the opportunity to try to sell the owner one of his inventions, a clumsy brick with multiple gadgets that doesn’t really work. Randall hears a strange singing and goes to the back of the shop and in a box he sees a strange creature called a mogwai and Randall wants to buy him offering the owner $200 but he refuses saying that the mogwai is not for sale. The owner’s grandson tells him to wait outside and he brings him the creature and takes the money.

He tells Randall three important rules for caring for a mogwai: bright light hurts him and sunlight kills him, don’t let him get wet or have any contact with water and finally don’t feed him after midnight. As soon I heard them it was obvious that breaking these rules was going to be an important part of this story.

Billy Peltzer (Zach Galligan) is at home trying to get his car to start so he can get to work at the local bank. He turns up late with his dog and settles down with the dog under his counter. The local nasty rich woman Mrs Deagle ()Polly Holliday comes storming down to the bank, rudely knocking people aside. In the bank she barges right through the queue at Billy’s counter dumping the snowman head on the counter. She’s there because Billy’s dog broke the rest of the snowman. She wants Billy to have to dog put down or she threatens to kill it herself. The dog reacts by freeing itself and jumping on the counter and knocking the head off and it smashes on the floor. This gets Billy in trouble with the manager Mr Corben (Edward Andrews) and his slimy kiss-ass assistant Gerald Hopkins (Judge Reinhold) sticks in a few nasty remarks for good measure.

Billy goes home where his mother (Frances Lee McCain) is preparing dinner and she asks Billy to crack her some eggs. Randall has an invention for doing this but when Billy tries using it he just ends up with a bowl of broken eggs. It is typical of Randall’s inventions that they cause a mess that takes longer to clean up than any time that could possibly be saved if they ever manage to work. Randall comes home and he gets greeted warmly by his wife are Billy When he gives the mogwai to Billy he is delighted and we get our first sight of him and he I’m sure that even if you haven’t seen the film I’m sure you know what the mogwai look like. He’s got great big eyes and is covered in soft hair and it has a huge pair of leathery ears and Peltzer says he calls him Gizmo and Gizmo seems to like that name and repeats it.

Gizmo settles in to his new home though there are a couple of incidents with bright lights that unsettle him. Gizmo really enjoys watching television and he really gets into an old film featuring racing drivers. This does become relevant later. Next day the neighbour’s kid Pete (Corey Feldman) comes round to deliver a Christmas tree for his father. Billy is in the kitchen trying to get orange juice out of one of his father’s inventions but that just leads to Billy and the kitchen covered bits of orange.

After he’s cleaned himself off he takes Pete up to his room to show him Gizmo and Pete is impressed. Gizmo likes showing off but when they move him over to a desk next to the window Pete knocks a jar of water over Gizmo who squeals in agony. His flesh looks like it’s boiling and then five little balls of fur pop off his back. Within minutes the balls swell and uncurl and Billy realises he has five more mogwai on his hands. Pete asks if he can have one but when he reaches his hand out to the five squabbling mogwai one of them tries to bite him and he loses interest. Billy is fascinated but from the look on Gizmo’s disaster is just around the corner. Years before CGI and motion capture they really do an amazing job getting expression from the Gizmo puppet.

Next day Billy takes one of the new mogwai to the Pete’s science teacher Roy Hanson (Glynn Turman) at the local high school and shows what happens when he puts a drop of water on its back creating another little mogwai. Hanson keeps the new mogwai so he can run some tests and Billy takes the other one home. Unlike Gizmo the other mogwai are badly behaved and very mischievous and seem to be led by one with tuft of hair that Billy has named Stripe. That night Billy finds the family dog strung up in Xmas lights on the front porch.He is certain it was Mrs Deagle but from the smirking the face of one of the mogwai they almost certainly did it.

Billy talks to his father about what happened and he starts thinking about perhaps selling off mogwai as pets. Randall has to leave to go to a mad inventors’ convention so he won’t be with home on Christmas Eve. Billy goes out on an errand and he passes the bar where Kate Beringer (Phoebe Cates) his co-worker at the bank works in the evening. She’s seeing the last drunk out of the bar before it closes and it’s Billy’s neighbour Mr Futterman (Dick Miller) who operates a snowplough. Kate talks him out of trying to drive the plough while drunk and he ominously warns them about Gremlins. Billy walks Kate home and he learns that Kate doesn’t like Christmas. Kate does agree to go on a date with Billy later in the week.

At the school Hanson is working very late and he takes a blood sample from the mogwai which he has put in a cage and is very unhappy with him. Billy gets home and settles down to watch Invasion of the Bodysnatchers with Gizmo. The other mogwai are in a box complaining noisily about being hungry so Billy checks the time on his clock and since it’s before midnight he fetches them some chicken which they devour with disgusting haste. Back at the school Hanson goes home leaving half a sandwich next to the cage.

When the morning of Christmas Eve comes and the five mogwai in the box and the one at the school have turned into large green slimy pods. Billy works out that they must have all eaten after midnight except for Gizmo and finds out that his clock was unplugged, almost certainly by one of the mogwai. Hanson reckons this is a pupal stage and that the mogwai are undergoing a metamorphosis. They don’t have any idea what they’re changing into but then they don’t know that they are in a film called Gremlins.

Billy goes to the school and discovers Hanson has been killed by the gremlin in his classroom that has now hatched out of its pupa. The gremlin is not the cute little bundle of mischief it was before the pupal stage. Now it’s a nasty slimy looking malevolent little demon intent on causing chaos.Billy chases it through the school and it takes quite a bit property damage before Billy gives up. He realises that if the gremlins at school is awake so are the ones at home so he calls his mother to warn her.

This is a bit late because Mrs Peltzer has already got her hands full with gremlins in her kitchen. She manages to kill one in the Peltzer orange peeler and juicer then kills a second one with a kitchen knife and gets a third in the microwave. She is attacked by fouth hiding in the Xmas tree but Billy gets home in time to rescue her.  That only leaves Stripe who makes a run for it. After making sure his mother is safe with a doctor neighbour Billy goes back to the house and finds Gizmo stuck in the laundry chute where the gremlins had thrown him. They go off after Stripe who has run off the YMCA. Just as they catch up with him he jumps into the swimming pool. This spells deep shit as Stripe produces hundreds more gremlins so Billy and Gizmo get to hell out of there.

Mr Futterman is at home with his wife trying to watch TV but he can’t get reception because half a dozen gremlins are swinging from his antenna. He goes out to check the antenna and gets chased by the gremlins who are now driving his snow plough. They smash the plough into his house destroying it.

Billy tries to explain the problem to the police but they don’t take him seriously even when he shows them Gizmo who is just too cute and charming to believe the others are a threat. Just then loads of calls come in with reports of chaos all over town. They tell Billy to go home while they drive out to see what’s going on. They don’t notice a gremlin cutting their brake line which quickly takes them out of action.

There is chaos all over town and one group pay a little visit to Mrs Deagle where they try a bit of carol singing. Mrs Deagle hates carol singers but then she hates anything that involves people doing things they enjoy. She has a bucket of cold water ready to throw over them but she gets a bit of a shock when sees five little monsters croaking out a crude impersonation of carol singing.She runs back inside but one of the gremlins screws around with power supply to her stair lift and when she sits down and switches it on it shoots her through a window handfuls her head first in the snow, killing her

At the bar the gremlins are like a really noisy bunch of jocks on a Saturday night and she forced to run about mad to keep the nasty little monsters satisfied with booze to stop them attacking her. We get lots of little scenes of the gremlins doing all sorts of things like a gremlins in an overcoat flashing Kate and a group of gremlins are playing poker with one dressed up as a woman.She is finally rescued by Billy when the gremlins flee from the light from Billy’s headlights. Kate notices the reaction and uses the flash on her camera to get out of the bar.

Kate gets in Billy’s car and meets Gizmo who gives her a bit of a scare. They drive around looking for gremlins but after the chaos from earlier it has gone very quiet. They find out that because have all gone to the movies and are all sitting watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and loving it. This there chance to get all in one go so Billy and Kate fill the place with gas and blow it up

Unfortunately Stripe wasn’t in the cinema since he had gone to get candy in the shop across the street. They need to stop him getting to water and sending them back to square one. Billy goes after Stripe while Kate and Gizmo go to shop’s control room to try to turn on the lights. This doesn’t go well and Kate manages to switch on everything except the lights, including a fountain in the garden centre. Stripe is really giving Billy a hard time using sports equipment and tools from the hardware section to try to kill him.

I think this an excellent comedy horror and it has one those them catchy themes tunes by Jerry Goldsmith that stick around as an ear worm for days after watching it. There is something very appealing about taking all the standard tropes of the small town Xmas celebration and ripping it to shreds with hundreds of rude violent little monsters and I think its a nice antidote to typical Xmas specials. The montage of scenes of the gremlins parodying the pop culture of the time may have dated the film but I think the humour still mostly works. and there are some genuinely scary scenes like the one in cinema with the shadows of the gremilns  cast on the screen as they come to attack Billy, Kate and Gizmo en masse.

Rating 8.0/10

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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: The World’s End

Cinema Review

worlds endThere’s a lot of talk in the publicity about this being part of trilogy of films by Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost but this film is as different from the previous two films as Hot Fuzz was from Shaun of the Dead. It shares with them the idea of taking a genre film plot and setting it in England with characters more familiar from comedies. This time it’s the alien invasion Sci-Fi genre that gets the treatment and the film does a good job delivering authentic a science fiction action film with their trademark irreverent humour.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) is a man whose life peaked as a teenager and its been downhill ever since  He ropes in his old school buddies to relive what he remembers as the best night of his life: a pub crawl around twelve pubs starting with The First Post and finishing with The World’s End. We get introduced to the four others completely from Gary’s perspective as teenagers so Oliver (Martin Freeman) is nicknamed Oman because of a birthmark on his forehead, Peter (Eddie Marsan) is alright because his family are wealthy and Steven (Paddy Considine) is the rival ladies’ man. Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) was Gary’s best friend and wing man. A sixth person mentioned is Sam (Rosamund Pike) Oliver’s sister that Gary once had sex with in the disabled toilet of a pub.

All Gary’s friends have gone on to be adults with jobs, wives and children and they are not really that interested in a pub crawl round the town they all left far behind with a desperate loser who has not emotionally grown since their school-days. Their memories of Gary and that night are not as warm as Gary’s so he has to manipulate each of them into joining him out of pity

When they arrive back at their hometown the place is cold and indifferent to them and there’s certainly no warm welcome. They check into a hotel (run by Julie Deakin who played the landlady in Spaced, an early TV collaboration of Pegg, Frost and Wright). Then the pub crawl starts at The First Post which has had a corporate makeover that the friends refer to as being Starbucksed (though Wetherspooned might have been more accurate). Gary gives them an enthusiastic historical introduction to the pub and seems to expect the barman to remember him which he doesn’t. Gary orders five pints but Andy interrupts and says he wants water. This really upsets Gary but Andy doesn’t care about pleasing Gary and hints that Gary is reason he only drinks water now.

The next stop The Old Familiar is identical to the first pub even down the customers but has a different barman who still doesn’t recognise Gary. In the third pub Gary gets the instant recognition he wants but that’s because his photo is pinned to a wall of shame full of customers who have been barred for life.

At the fourth pub The Cross Hands Gary picks a fight with a teenager in the toilet whose only offence was to ignore Gary bragging about how cool he used to be. He finds out the young man is not in human but some sort of modular android and destroys it. Andy and the others come into the toilet to talk about one the nastier lies he told to get them there. Soon they are battling a gang of teenage androids. They realise that have no idea how many people have been replaced by androids and the sensible plan is to leave immediately but Gary talks them into carrying on with pub crawl to avoid alerting the other androids that they know about them. Andy downs four shots to catch up and get drunk enough to go along with Gary’s stupid plan.

As they go on they discover the aliens’ plan but Gary drives them on to finish the pub crawl because that really is more important to him than the end of the world. Simon Pegg’s character is definitely not a hero in this film and he drives the story forward by his misguided quest. A lot of the comedy comes from his immature behaviour and the way he drags his straight-laced friends along for the ride. The film starts slowly building a very realistic character dynamic before it shifts up a few gears into a high action finale.

The casting includes familiar faces that have worked with Pegg, Frost and Wright before such as Mark Heap, Michael Smiley, Reece Shearsmith and Darren Boyd. There’s also a very well-known actor who hasn’t been credited who has a small but important role in the story. The cast are just great and there’s naturalness to their interactions.

Like other films by Wright, Pegg and Frost this film is influenced by the films they have loved, in this case it’s science fiction films and the broad theme certainly owes a lot to Invasion of Bodysnatchers (the 70s remake rather than the original). I’ll have some fun spotting them when the film comes to Bluray. There’s a running gag that they can’t agree what to call the androids who are bit touchy about being called robots and they eventually end up calling them blanks

This film might not be quite as funny as Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz but it still has more laughs than many other comedies and there’s a real depth to characters. The theme of the film is the battle for individual freedom with all its flaws against compromising and conforming but it’s done with the wit you’d expect from these writers.

Rating 8.0/10

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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Film

 

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Review: Warm Bodies

Bluray Review

Warm Bodies Bluray 001I remember when this came out in cinemas it was being described as Twilight with zombies as if before Twilight there had never been romance in horror films. I suppose we’re meant to have agreed that films aimed at the young adult female market are to be dismissed off-hand by reference to the hugely popular but critically panned film and book series. It’s not the first to tackle the idea of a relationship between a living human and a zombie but that was certainly the opinion of the mainstream reviewers who snickered at the concept. This is more of a comedy than horror film and though comedy tastes my vary I liked its take on the zombie genre.

R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie in a world long after the plague hit and as he wanders around an airport we hear his thoughts in narration. I know narration can be annoying but it gets over the fact the protagonist of the film barely talks, communicating with his best friend M (Rob Corddry) by grunts. These zombies still remember being alive and their daily routines are like a ritual repeat of those memories. Eventually those memories are lost and zombies become bonies; fast, savage skinless creatures who feast on anything with a heartbeat.

Eventually a zombie has to eat so R and M go out on a hunt with a group of other zombies because there’s safety in numbers. In a hospital they come across a group of humans who are scavenging medical supplies. R kills the leader of the group Perry (Dave Franco) and as he eats his brain he gets Perry’s memories which are full of his love for Julie (Teresa Palmer) and his desire to protect her. R fights off the zombies trying to attack her but Julie gets knocked unconscious during the attack.

R decides to take Julie back to the airport to protect her until she recovers and the other zombies stop looking for her. This is the first time Julia has ever met a zombie with any sense of compassion for others and she learns that R at least seems to have an inner life with his large record collection on the plane he calls home.

By the time R gets Julie back the walled human enclosure her feelings for R have grown and she realises that he may well be the first sign that the zombie condition is curable. There are problems to overcome such as convincing the humans, particularly Julie’s father Grigio (John Malkovich) that a cure is possible and tackling the bonies that are gathering to invade the human stronghold.

I liked the characters in this film and I was not bothered that the zombies in his film followed their own rules. The two stage zombie thing was probably necessary to allow the zombies to be somewhat sympathetic by having the uber zombie bonies as the main threat. This was also done in the vampire film Daybreakers where the normal populations are vampires who become bestial uber vampires through lack of blood.

The film plays about with the relationship between R and Julie and even has a balcony scene but it never gets too icky. There were nice touches like the scenes of R smearing with smelly goo and teaching her to walk like a zombie to blend in at the airport are mirrored later when Julie puts make-up on R and coaches him to seem more human to blend in at the enclosure. For a zombie film there is not much gore which probably explains the 12A rating. I thought it was a decent fun film with a few laughs. It has the cheesy old theme of the power of love makes us human but why not?

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on July 8, 2013 in Film

 

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