Friday, 21 October 2011

The Retrospective: Fight Club.

Fight Club poster.

SPOILER ALERT: This film has been out since 1999 so if you don't want things to be ruined, watch first then read this.

A film which went from not only a box office flop but being highly criticised for its violent content and linking it to the Columbine atrocity; it's weird how this became a cult classic and managed to have a lasting effect on society. Its timing was all wrong in an enraged western civilisation where they needed a reason for the violence in the world and what better to blame than the media outlets? Instead of blaming the people, the bullying and the family, they wanted to blame something higher up the pyramid and went for violent films, violent games and internet usage. It only made $8m more than the $63m budget and that doesn't include the advertising budget. It's also one of the best book-to-film adaptations where Chuck Palahniuk, the author of the novel, said that it was actually an improvement on his book.

The book starts like the film: at the end. The Narrator (Edward Norton) has a gun in his mouth and on the other side of that gun is  Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) as he counts down the minutes to an unknown conclusion. "This is it: ground zero." We have a monologue of The Narrator telling us about explosives and he knows this because Tyler knows this. As we're taken back to find out more about our protagonist, we find out that he's an insomniac. "With insomnia, nothing is real. Everything is far away; everything's a copy of a copy of a copy." This is where we see the first flash of Tyler Durden to impose the idea of him on us and sub-consciously manifest him in our heads which is a representation of how he was slowly spilling out into The Narrator's life. We know him because he knows him.

In between finding this out we see a flowing CGI shot through corporate names as he talks about "the Microsoft galaxy" and "planet Starbucks" which gives us some information on capitalism. He, then, joins these support groups to sleep, to weep, to reap the benefits from those who suffer from terminal illnesses. Each night is a different name, a different disease. That's what it is in the end, a terminal illness wrapped in a different name. We see him explore himself through crying with strangers and finding his power animal - a penguin. As Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) enters the picture - the testicular cancer group at first to be more specific - he loses sleep because while that phony is there ruining his holiday, his getaway from himself, he can't cry and thus cannot sleep. "Marla... the big tourist. Her lie reflected my lie." In his sleep deprived state we see more of the commercialism he surrounds himself with in his Ikea catalogue of a condo. His power animal has now morphed into Marla and she does not heal him at all.

As he surrounds himself with ill people, he's confronting how society doesn't care about anyone or anything except themselves, their lives and the money that they have. "When people think you're dying, they really, really listen to you instead of  - instead of just waiting for their turn to speak." He loathes society and everything it represents with its norms and social conventions. He's dictated by these rather than his own morals and his own ideas. The visits to these support groups is a sort of stepping stone to more nihilism and more individualism in an attempt to break free of the corporate stranglehold. The deal that Marla and him make could be construed as some sort of allegory to his view on the corruption between corporations but that could be over-analysing it. At the end, why over analyse something when "this is your life and it's ending one minute at a time."

With his constant jet-setting, it's no wonder he's an insomniac with his constant change in time zones and with what he sees and does. Praying for a crash so something exciting would happen because of his lacklustre for life - he may want it to end or just some adrenaline. Through analysing a crash and calculating ("Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.") a form of corporate murder via the pattern of greed because of the expenses of recalls. Sometimes the genocide is just too much but only if it's more than X. This is where we meet Tyler Durden officially and they talk about their jobs, random axioms and social dilemmas. Living out of a suitcase has its problems and we find that out when that suitcase is lost. Living in condo which went from the fifteenth floor to the bottom floor also has its problems where his condo, his perfect Ikea condo, is now unmanageable. "The things that you own end up owning you." "It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything" and that's exactly what happens to the poor Narrator.

Tyler Durden teaches us a little something about how cinemas work as he's a projectionist but with his knowledge comes a little a bit of concern about how something that seems innocuous and nothing to us and how, well, they could fuck with us. Through splicing porn into reels of films where it flashes so quickly that we don't see it but only register it. In the bar, he finds solace and a home in Tyler Durden; this is how the actual Fight Club begins. "Hit me" and The Narrator wearily obliges by punching him in the ear. Originally, Brad Pitt agreed to being punched in the shoulder but David Fincher walked over and told Edward Norton to punch him in the ear instead so Tyler Durden's reaction ("Why the ear!?") is Brad Pitt’s real reaction. This is where Fight Club begins as they scrap outside a bar on Saturday nights, slowly growing a crowd of spectators.

In Tyler's house on Paper Street, there are stacks and stacks of Reader's Digest magazines stacked upon each other throughout the entire house. A hermit's last ode to the world, his only legacy. Another insignificant soul in this unremarkable world where history is for the special. This is where our insomniac's monologue continually flicks and uses articles about organs written in first person and how to describe his moods he'll be some organ or just something ("I am Jack's raging bile duct"). We confront more problems in their lives and that's daddy issues. They're a generation raised by women, a raging bunch of hormones and scarred minds which violently lash out in a controlled environment to get rid of their testosterone. As men are naturally hunters but our food is already hunted for us, it builds up and there needs to be some sort of release and that's what Fight Club is for. It's all about the manipulation that society strangles us with in this deluded image that we are not animals and these rules need to be broken. They're slowly bringing their nihilism and semi-realism into their anarchistic idea of utopia.

This scene is iconic to everyone that has seen this film and became something iterated by the "all-singing, all-dancing, crap of the world" and how Tyler Durden became a household name and an idol. This scene is the first iteration of the rules. As you probably know, I'm breaking rule one and two by writing this piece. It became a catchphrase, a slogan, which is irony in itself. Then there's the satire of having Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden and of him mocking a Gucci model's body ("Self-improvement is masturbation. Now self-destruction...") when he stands up in the next cut completely cut. It's also some form of irony that a movie star of Brad Pitt's fame is the one berating all of the movie stars with all of their money.

After an attempted suicide, Tyler and Marla become acquainted and as he feels as though Marla took the support groups away and is now going to take Tyler away ("She invaded my support groups and now she's invading my home"). It feels like some sort of homoeroticism and denial of homosexual or bicuriousity from the jealousy of their relationship to using him as a father figure or a hero. Then there's the camerawork during the sex scenes that doesn't try to make it classy or make it something special, instead it shows us how animal-like it can be. In a contradiction to the Hollywood's usual "love making" scenes it makes it disorientated and wild with it being totally uninhabited as we hear only the music and see the camera fly around the bodies in a blur. Then there's the very dodgy line that shows that they are the trash of the world but only because of their scarred past. It's the "I haven't been fucked like that since Grade School" which is primary school, in case you didn't know. David Fincher was told to change one line in the script and that was the "I want to have your abortion" line but he agreed to this only if he wrote another line that couldn't be contested and that was the infamous line. The producer said no to it but there was already a deal in place. It needed to be twisted and dark because that's Marla's character and the tone of the film. It's a twisted perception of reality that makes you realise that the trickling down effect of a corporate pyramid might not be so great because as it trickles down it gets watered and sullied until - in words that Tyler Durden would be proud of - all that's left is the shit that you're too starving to say no to.

"Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who've ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need. We're the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War's a spiritual war... our Great Depression is our lives. We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off."

"The condom is the glass slipper of our generation" is another one of Marla's perverse thoughts with this reject trio; the forgotten few of the forgotten many. With this advancement of the mood-swinging Narrator we get what's called "Tyler's kiss" which is a chemical burn on the hand. This is one more step to hitting bottom - you hit bottom, you've got nothing to lose; it's officially risk-free that way. This is the progression from fighting behind a bar and his cure to insomnia and way of feeling good to something that is becoming bigger and bigger. The Narrator bumps into Big Bob in the street and learns that Fight Club is growing and he has no idea of it. As it grows, Tyler becomes their leader and he's known as their leader.  The Narrator has gone from leaving a mask of tears in Big Bob's bitch tits to fighting each other.

"This was mine and Tyler's gift." With his speech about the middle-men of history, Tyler Durden has become the Shepard to the lost generation and the CEO of Fight Club. Knowing his influence to the fatherless, he gives them a homework assignment in an attempt to enlighten more people but it's more of a recruiting agency. Tyler Durden is their god and their religion is becoming anarchy. This is the birth of Project Mayhem. Something that's supposed to teach us to not shit where we eat. They may be the white collared nothings but they have more power than we think. They're the ones that hand us our food, make our clothing, protect us and we should not mess with the order of things. With Tyler Durden looking at the camera, breaking the fourth wall that's usually in films and TV programmes, he consults us directly and is talking to the lower ring of people and as he tells us that we're nothing, it looks as if the projector is broken with a shaky reel that represents the instability of Tyler Durden's mind.

The true power of this film is that it has a lot of themes and a lot to learn from. It's about politics, society, mental illness, nihilism, realism, anarchy and even love. That's right, love. In the Afterword of the Vintage Film publication of Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk rattles off  a list of things that his book - and film - have been called and it's a long list, at least two pages and his criticism of this is that no one called it what it also was: a love story - or to quote The Narrator in the book a "like" story. In the hands of other directors or other authors and writers, this would be hard to pull off. David Fincher pieces this together so not everything takes centre stage but also makes it so nothing else suffers. It's perfectly balanced in dealing with everything. That's also down to Chuck Palahniuk and Jim Uhls (as well as the uncredited Fincher, Norton and Pitt who helped a bit) and their way of focusing on so many things yet making them all so brilliantly significant yet irrelevant at the same time. It takes multiple viewings/readings of Fight Club to understand everything and to get every single detail of the film. All of these themes made it the cult classic. It has something that a lot of people can relate to even if it's the depressing feeling of nothingness and insignificance.

"I'd like to thank the Academy" but unfortunately Edward Norton never got a chance to even be considered to thank the Academy. Neither did Brad Pitt, Helena Bonham Carter, David Fincher nor Jim Uhls. With only one Oscar nomination (a technical one for sound which it lost) it was robbed at the Academy as well. Not only did the trio of performances deserve a nomination for their skilled portrayal of their demented characters but they deserved to win. I'd be able to live if they didn't get a win but David Fincher is one of the most talented directors working today. Before this he made Se7en, The Game and Alien 3. Since those he's made Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and The Social Network which have all deserved some recognition for his talent. An accolade is needed and with his next project, a Hollywood remake of the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which came out in 2009, no one knows if it'll be as good, better or a shot-for-shot remake. With his creativity it's highly unlikely that it'll be a shot-for-shot remake but his recognition by the Academy is needed.

The film is anarchistic, nihilistic, angry, violent but it's more real than any other fabrication of common people. With this came hatred and with the taboo of violence became the cult following. People changed their names to Tyler Durden. People started Fight Clubs. People quoted it. People came forward about tampering with things in the service industry. In the Afterword in the same publication mentioned earlier, a waiter admits to a massive political figure eating his cum at least five times and that political figure was Margaret Thatcher. Fight Club became contagious after its second inception into culture with people doing more of what you see in the film and now knowing that these things happen. Fight Club did change society but it also made us more aware of society and the power of everyone. It seems David Fincher was thinking "I felt like destroying something beautiful" and that's what he did with the Hollywood film industry, with the world and with everything we know and perceive as reality. We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world and everything we see might not be what we think.

Sunday, 18 September 2011


Warrior poster.

Written for Click here to go there.

Director: Gavin O'Connor.

Certificate: 12A.

Running Time: 140 min.

Starring: Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo and Kevin Dunn.

In similar belated fashion, we saw The Fighter come to the UK on the second of February. This is very similar to The Fighter for a few reasons. It's not just a fighting film like Never Back Down and Fighting; it's more of a character driven drama like The Fighter is. They both have brutal fights. They both focus on addiction albeit this is a father's alcohol addiction instead of a brother's drug addiction. They both concentrate on brothers. They're both predictable. Then they have something else that links them too: They're both brilliant.

Before you think this is a carbon copy of The Fighter, it isn't. They both just share similar DNA as they're sport films however The Fighter is based on a true story and this is nothing but fiction from the mind of Gavin O'Connor. The Fighter is also set in the mid '80s while this is based in the now. It's not really fair to compare them as they're both different. Where The Fighter focuses on one fighter's struggle to break free from his family problems, his brother's shadow and being the underdog, Warrior focuses on both brothers with very different stories which makes you pick a favourite. It divides your feelings, your attention. You focus on two brothers, yet, they only actually meet in the film twice and both times are memorable brilliance. Similar to the chemistry between Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro in Michael Mann's Heat.

We first meet Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) who is an introvert fighting machine. Tommy hasn't returned to his home of Pittsburgh for 14 years after he left with his mother who was domestically abused by his alcoholic father, Paddy (Nick Nolte). He still reels from the past that his father and brother tarnished and he uses this anger, this rage, to demolish all of his opponents. He returns home to be trained by his father but he makes sure that his father knows that he wants no relationship, no father-son reunion; he just wants to train with someone familiar. Tommy is a pure power fighter who will ground-and-pound you if necessary and it shows in Tom Hardy's massive bulk-up for the role - his shoulders are so packed with muscle that he's slightly hulking over, a good sign as he's playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Then we have his estranged brother, Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton), who is a sort of paradox to Tommy. He's a calm and disciplined family man who is struggling with medical bills and mortgage payments. It's his last resort to return to fighting. He's the older brother who is now a physics teacher but he was ignored by his father because Tommy was the golden child. As personalities reflect their fighting styles then Brendan's style is the grappler using discipline, willpower and being thoughtful to make his opponents submit and tap out. His family is his motivation and uses them to endure all the pain that he suffers.

What they're both fighting for is money but not for the simple motivation of having it nor the fame but to take care of people. Hence why they join the tournament called Sparta to get the winner-takes-all $5m that is offered to one fighter and one alone - there are no consolation prizes here. It's predictable with how the tournament will turn out. It all leads to the final showdown of family versus family where all of their past will spill over into one final brawl. Yet, it's not just the story that you enjoy but the characters. They're both deserving even though it's hard not to villianise Tommy as he's unforgiving and is heart-wrenchingly horrible to his father who is trying to recover from his alcoholism. Yet, as his mysterious back-story is revealed, you feel more and more sympathy. He may be cold and distant at the beginning, but he has his reasons.

Gavin O'Connor uses great camera work with an interesting montage and some great cinematography in the city of Pittsburgh and Atlantic City (the poorer version of Las Vegas) but mixes it up with great visceral visuals during fights and emotional close-ups of confrontations. Which is an homage to this film really. It's raw with its emotions but beautiful and touching - even if it is about grown men knocking each other out. The fight scenes are brutal and will make you wince from their realism - especially in Tommy's fights - while the performances of all the characters are so real that you feel sympathy for everyone involved in this traumatic experience.

This may be the first nod to the 2012 Oscars with deserving nominations for the main trio. From the steely performance of Tom Hardy, the calm and family orientated Joel Edgerton and the sorry and begging for forgiveness Nick Nolte, there's not a weak link between them and they all give memorable performances as their pivotal characters. The finale is something of the greats. It's a truly emotional climax which gives complex feelings and mixed thoughts on your favourite, it truly boils down to a truly great spectacle which is genuinely unpredictable as the brothers are both main characters. It's heart-wrenching and tugs on feelings you didn't even know you had, it reverts you back to your unsure pubescent stage where everything was an amalgamation. You'll punch the air with one hand and dab the tears with the other.


Ashley Norris.

Follow me on Twitter @ashleyrhys

Monday, 29 August 2011

Cowboys & Aliens.

Cowboys & Aliens poster.

Everyone thinks the title is ridiculous and a totally ridiculous premise but how is it? What is different from any other sci-fi alien invasion film? The only difference is that it's a fictitious take on the past. That's why I don't understand how it's so "ridiculous" because it isn't. Another thing is that it seems a bit like an allegory. I may be looking to deep into, what is at heart, an action film but it sort of takes a District 9 route using the aliens as a race. It seems like the cowboys were fighting them invading their territory after they invaded the natives territory. They band together to show that humans will be cohesive in fighting invaders. It's like the Jason Manford joke (no, not a Skype/Twitter joke) about how the only way the human race will stand side-by-side is if aliens come and attack us.

Plot: A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys and natives are all that stand in their way.

It starts with an amnesic and unconscious Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) who has nothing but dirty and ripped clothing, a brand new alien bracelet, a tear in his side, a picture of a woman and a hat that is oddly important to him. As he's held by gunpoint for being the strong silent type, he shows us what he's about. He may not remember his name yet, but he still remembers how to take out bad attitudes and greedy part-time bounty hunter cowboys.

When he stumbles into the town of Absolution seeking medical attention for his nasty gash, he teaches Woodrow Dollaryhyde's (Harrison Ford) unbelievably annoying son, Percy Dollarhyde (Paul Dano), some manners. After this, they attempt to apprehend our hero in a bar where he's finally apprehended by Olivia Wilde's Ella Swenson in Doc's (Sam Rockwell) saloon. As he's in the carriage with Percy, awaiting his visit to the feds, Woodrow shows up demanding his son back and Jake Lonergan who stole gold from him.

Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde. Directed by Jon Favreau.

This is our first sight of aliens which is OK but not tense enough. They come and they grapple the townsmen of Absolution and abduct them in their weirdly archaic - yes, archaic, I don't even know why - spaceships. After the carnage and the first glimpse of what this badass bracelet can do, we hear screams and get a silhouette of our alien invaders. It's bleeding and, now, the hunt is on.

What follows is a bit muddled. The plot isn't really coherent. First of all, they're chasing an injured alien and then they're attempting to recruit an army to save their captured ones and the changing point isn't very clear. As they bundle through the desert with a luscious real backdrop, it's hard to appreciate though because you never get a time to really. There's no real lingering shots of the scenery or slight tracking shots of them riding through. Then there's a obvious development of the grumpy and angry Woodrow Dollarhyde who snaps into a father to an idiotic young tag-along who can't act. It's like a snap in his personality after his son is lassoed by the aliens.

Director Jon Favreau was constantly harassed with demands to shoot/convert the film in 3-D, but he held his ground, claiming Westerns should only be shot on film.

Then there's the romance between Jake and Ella as Jake snaps from wanting to be alone to honouring her name. It just seems like everything snaps into place all at once. There's no development; just a massive personality change for the two alpha males. This where Cowboys & Aliens suffers. It's just totally meh. That is the best word to describe it because it's so very average. I enjoyed it and it's a good film to watch but it's not something that is memorable or remarkable. It will not climb the ranks of your favourite films but it might be something to put on in the background or to watch for nothing but easy entertainment.


Note: Being alone in a cinema screen is absolutely awesome.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Super 8.

Super 8 poster.

If you ask most film critics about their opinion on the best decades for blockbusters, they'd wage the pros-and-cons of the '70s and '80s. A time where set-design prevailed over CGI backgrounds and when special effects just weren't that special. It was a time where they focused more on the story and characters rather than just on the visual things or one-liners here and there. In a way, I agree but this year has been a great year for blockbusters, in my opinion. In fact, thanks to this film, it just got a lot better.

Plot: After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town, and begin to investigate into the creepy phenomenon.

Perfectly, then, this is set in 1979 which is the year Alien came out - one of the best blockbusters of all time and Ridley Scott's greatest creations. In the wake of a superhero summer, J.J. Abrams has come out with - what could easily be and was probably going to be - two different films but merged into one. It centres on a child named Joe Lamb (Joel Courtney) who, four months later, is still reeling from the after-effects of losing his mother. His best friend, Charles (Riley Griffiths), is making a zombie film. This group of pre-teen kids (and one just-teen girl) are making a zombie film on a super 8 to enter into a youth film festival. They film at a sight with a new addition to the cast, Alice (Elle Fanning), who drives them there (illegally). When an air-force train is about to pass, Charles swipes at the opportunity to film while it flies past in its noisy wonderment for "production value".

While they film Alice and (S)Martin (Gabriel Basso) doing their scene, Joe hears something. He watches as a pick-up truck malevolently derails this train - the pyromaniac, Cary (Ryan Lee) is in heaven at this moment - causing the cast to run for their lives while something unknown, perhaps a little "Extra-Terrestrial", unhinges a door of the train and escapes. Strange things happen in this small town where car engines disappear out of showroom cars, mast wires disappear, rolling blackouts and local dogs being found but the calls "aren't local". These leave the deputy, Jackson Lamb (Kyle Chandler), baffled and searching for answers from a reluctant and irritated Colonel Nelec (Noah Emmerich). He occupies the town by cleaning up the train crash and insisting that there's no danger even though they're clearly searching for something.

Cast: Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee, Gabriel Basso, Zach Mills, Noah Emmerich and Kyle Chandler. Directed by J.J. Abrams.

What ensues is a master class on how to make a monster film, courtesy of J. J. Abrams. He shows us that showing all your cards at once is nothing but a rookie mistake and that you should take time to build anticipation but not to infuriating levels. He times it just right - like Cloverfield - by giving us milliseconds of shimmers or glimpses of the monster. We see its damage directly and indirectly yet it takes us a very long time to actually see it. As the story goes on and on we see great shots of great scenery and levels of depth - the shot of Joe biking back from Charles's is just simple and so are the shots after the train crash and up on the hill with it in the background.

Since the kids were making a zombie movie, there are several references to director George A. Romero. For example, Romero Chemicals as the evil company, plus the poster for one of his movies in Joe's bedroom. You can see the film that they create, The Case, during the credits.

Now, lately, I've been not really been a fan of children or young teens but these children are brilliant. They're full of emotion, full of realism and yet still make things funny. I mean, their attempts at humour aren't attempts at all because they nail every line making it a nice comedic yet tense first half of the film and a genuine second half with their brilliant acting skills. These children could go far if they don't ruin it for themselves with drink, drugs or bad film choices from now on. They're onto a winner here.

The only problem was the CGI which seemed to lack in areas. For example, he builds the monster and it turns out to be a semi-original concept but a little harsh. It feels like it changes in sizes to suit the surroundings. The train crash was slightly poor too in comparison but after a $150m budget summer it's hard to expect less than borderline perfect.

It had all the recipes of a Spielberg picture with the storytelling, the character, the character development. It doesn't feel like a blockbuster with the effort that goes into creating traits of characters that aren't really made any more; they have noticeable personalities which are all similar yet different and they all have idiosyncrasies which are individual to each character. It's also got all the recipes of a J. J. Abrams creation (albeit a watered down one) with excessive lens flare but less of the mind-melting. He doesn't try to answer your questions (a bit like Lost, actually) about the creation if it, where it came from or anything like that; it just focuses on the now which is a part of its charm. A brilliant cast with a great storyline being told by one of the great writer-directors that has entered Hollywood. One of the best blockbusters of this summer.


Thursday, 4 August 2011

All Christians are terrorists.

Now that we know that the atrocity that was the Norway Attacks was done by a Christian, is it time to start being prejudiced against them? After all, that's what we did after 9/11 against Islam. And because of the population density differences, this attack was twice as devastating to Norway. Should we be irrational against a rich, "civilised" religion now? It seems only fair.

This massacre of seventy-seven people - eight in the Oslo bomb and sixty-nine in the Ut√łya shooting - was done by a Christian. The man who shot teenagers and slaughtered them, believed in God and Jesus Christ so how does that make atheism that bad? I haven't massacred anyone and I don't plan on it either. This far-right, self-proclaimed martyr said that it was "atrocious but necessary" and claims he's done nothing wrong. How can someone who believes in God see this as right? He was an Islamophobic blogger who posted on anti-Islam forums (can't believe they actually exist, that's disgusting) and supported groups like the EDL.

It's time to be prejudiced against Christians. Time to do "random" screen checks to anyone who is a white Christian and make them the victim of delays, cavity searches and mangled luggage from searches. Every time we see a Christian on a flight we'll get nervous and treat them has potential terrorists. They'll feel people staring at them with paranoid eyes. They'll be the victim of insults, mockery and abuse. People will walk past them and laugh at their religious attire then get angry that they say they have to wear it and propose rules for them or simply tell them to "go back where they came from" because no true, original Briton will do anything wrong. It's not like a lot of Britons do nothing all day but claim money, do drugs, commit crimes and be racist bigots because they own this place.

Now, when people make racist remarks starting with "I'm not racist but", the Christians will be the punchline, the source of abuse and not Islam. Christians won't be allowed to impose their views on our parliament. They'll try to impose their views with improper and disrespectful protests. The Sun will run headlines talking about a minority of Christians being offended by something and everyone will be infuriated. Everyone who wears a crucifix will be instantly identified as a terrorist because they fit the demographic. They'll be made unwelcome, Maybe some Jews will suffer the consequences because they might look Christian like just like Sikhs and Hindus did after 9/11 and still do now.

Of course that won't happen to Christians because we're a Christian country and so is America. The richest countries are Christian and we understand Christianity so we know that those aren't Christian ideals. We know that Christianity didn't teach him to do that tragedy. Then, something we don't understand comes along and they blame it. They tear it apart with ignorance and never try to understand it because they don't want to.

Our disgusting western civilisation - what irony there - managed to stereotype Islam which has 1.5bn believers. That's saying that one-sixth of the population are terrorists. Now, you think they'd blame religion again in this case, especially as as soon as it happened they were claiming al Qaeda or some Islam extremist group were behind it. Do you know what they're going to blame? Games.

On Anders Breivik's Facebook profile, they found that one his hobbies was to play video games and they found out that one of his favourite games was Call of Duty. That's right. They'll know spout how he learnt how to use a gun because of Call of Duty and that the violence in it made him the psychotic sociopath he is today. Fox News went straight for the jugular of this. Why can't they blame something real? Like a chemical imbalance or the propaganda that he was clearly spewed.

Instead, they'll probably still blame Islam. They'll say that what he did was extreme but it was a wake up call to some Islamophobic propaganda that they love to say. Just face it, you're racist. Stop blaming a certain demographic. I think I'll start the Christian prejudice and tell some nearby staff that I'm nervous because of the Norway Attacks. They'll just laugh and ignore it but if it was someone who fitted the Muslim demographic, they'd act upon it instantly...

Sunday, 31 July 2011

F1, the BBC and Sky.

It's been in discussion for a few weeks now. The F1 viewing figures are at a ten-year high so why wouldn't they want a slice of the pie? Sky cash in a lot on things which have been done well by other channels and then just shove tonnes of money towards it to outbid the others. It's a form of financial bullying. It's like Chelsea and Man City in the Premier League; they have the funding to just offer extortionate amount of money to the teams and the players with wages in insane excess. Sky just bitch slapped the BBC in the face with their wads of cash then took their cash cow.

Now, I'll either have to miss half the season next year or shell out £30 a month just to catch up on the other races. At least the race'll be ad-free but the only problem I have with that is the build-up will be advertisement central. I can see Sky turning into American TV and adding sponsored replays and random pop-ups like the world's worst website. The screen will be cluttered.

There's no denying that Sky do great coverage of other sports. In fact, they make Soccer Saturday entertaining and before you know it, you've wasted four or five hours away watching the word "GOAL" come up three times a minute. I don't know who they'll hire to do the coverage though because the BBC have the best presenters and commentators. Jake Humphrey is a great host who's knowledgeable and very likeable; Martin Brundle is a great commentator who does very entertaining and informative features and grid walks and so on. The BBC dedicate themselves to HD coverage with their features, interviews and their professional explanations to ease you into the sport. I started watching in 2009 and thanks to their coverage, they've taught me all the necessary information and more. I feel like a mechanical engineer now.

Another annoying thing about this is that, come September, I'll have to pay for my TV license but I don't watch the BBC. In fact, I don't watch anything on the BBC really and I don't listen to the BBC radio stations and the only thing I really do is browse their sport and news websites. I'll be paying £145 to read one article every month. It hardly seems worth it, especially on top of that £30 a month for Sky Sports which I might have to pay for myself. That's £360 a year on top of £145 which means £505 a year just to watch the F1 and to read something every once in a while. Bargain...

It seems that Bernie Eccleston has gotten greedy. I've always liked him and his honesty but he honestly can't believe that having the F1 on Sky will get more viewers. Everyone has the BBC and Sky Sports is a monthly luxury which less people do have. So, for Bernie to say that more people will watch it on Sky means he thinks Sky has more customers than a terrestrial channel? No, because people I know that don't watch the F1 have watched some races this year (the Canadian GP mostly) and enjoyed it. Why? Because it was on the BBC. The BBC brought in a lot more viewers because it goes out to everyone who owns a TV. The BBC has brought the F1 back to dizzying heights and brought it to record highs after the monstrosity that was the ITV coverage. In fact, the BBC made me interested in watching the F1 because I had no real interest before hand.

I'm going to make a point to boycott Sky and I hope others join me in it. Every time the BBC show a race, I'll purposefully watch that instead but they'll still have my money if I sign up for Sky Sports again. Another possibility is that I wait for the extended highlights by the BBC of the Sky Sports race. That's not as fun though. I'll have to also avoid social networking sites and my brother. It doesn't feel worth it. Boycott Sky may not be the best idea but if we banded together to rally behind the brilliant HD and terrestrial coverage of the BBC, we might make a difference. It's just getting greedy now.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger.

Captain America: The First Avenger poster.

As I complained about Sky and their inability to allow Anytime+ to work I managed to book two free tickets to a day early screening of Captain America. It seems they tried to sweeten me up just to leave me bitter by signing the F1. Rupert Murdoch is just wants to piss people off - and make a lot of money probably. And to every parent that takes their child to the cinema and allows them to talk loudly: Tell them to shut up!

Plot: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals.

Marvel have been using very left-field directors for their Avenger films and origin stories. Iron Man used Jon Favreau, Thor used Shakespeare director Kenneth Branagh (who might not return for Thor 2), The Avengers film uses Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Serenity and wrote the screenplay for Toy Story) and Joe Johnston for Captain America. Joe Johnston has directed Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Jumanji, Jurassic Park III and The Wolfman. Not the greatest of films so expectations shouldn't really be high but it's all worked out so far. Especially in this "superhero summer". Can this keep the same quality as the other films?

In short, yes. It's as good as Thor and Iron Man. In fact, even its attempt at humour is actually funny most of the time. We start with Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) invading a town in Norway (a bit poorly timed) to achieve a mischievous blue cube - which we saw at the end post-credit scene in Thor. Johann Schmidt leads HYDRA and they're the real threat of WW2, not Hitler and the Nazis. He even pinches and edits their salute with "HEIL HYDRA!" We, then, join a much shorter and much skinnier Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) who wants to sign up to fight in WW2. The only problem is that no one will let him because they claim it'll be suicide. He's resilient and applies with false information in five different cities. It all changes when he's overheard by Dr. Erksine (the very funny Stanley Tucci) and asks if he'd be interested in a scientific experiment. Rogers obliges because he wants to get into the action.

Cast: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and Hayley Atwell

This is when he enters a training camp with other potential candidates of the project. Tommy Lee Jones's Colonel Chester Phillips dislikes the wheezing "90 pound asthmatic" and doesn't see him as an ideal candidate. He describes Hoggs - a man previously punched in the face by Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell), the love interest, for making a move and being sexist - as a "perfect soldier" but that's exactly the problem: He's not a valiant, selfless leader. After throwing a dummy grenade, he realises that Rogers is the perfect candidate.

A brief basic lesson from Hollywood on how sci-fi and futuristic technology "works" and we've turned skinny yet valiant underdog into a tall, lean/built/cut (take your pick) machine that is ready to defeat the real threat of WW2: HYDRA. Unfortunately, amongst all this morphing, we've met Howard Stark (played by the AWFUL Dominic Cooper) and his accent keeps changing from a Texan accent to an Italian New-Yorker accent and so on. But let's not dwell on the painfully bad Dominic Cooper. After this experiment, Steve Rogers assumes his pseudonym Captain America to inspire the people of America about the war but not actually fighting it. He claims is only options are that or to be a lab rat but Agent Carter convinces him otherwise and that's when he becomes heroic. He battles his way through a warehouse to find his best friend, Bucky (Sebastian Stan). Then he actually becomes the super solider that the Colonel fought to create.

The best part about Captain America is that it isn't overly patriotic. With a name like Captain America, you'd expect it to be cheesy patriotism and nationalism and fighting everyone who opposes the American dream. Instead, it's just a man who assumes the colours of the American flag after motivating the Americans about the war. Gladly, that's it. It's all about America's pursuit of Johann Schmidt and the destruction of HYDRA before HYDRA destroys everything. I do agree with Red Skull's view of "no flags" and "no countries" but his execution isn't the best.

What I love is that, like X-Men: First Class, this hasn't tried to adapt the origin story to modern times but instead embraced the comics original origin. Setting this in the 1940s was a risk and must have been incredibly difficult to make it believable but the set-designs are immaculate and this is another case that proves set-design is better than CGI. If Alien and Aliens can have believable sets in 1979 and 1986 then why do we feel the need to poorly fake it?

Another positive thing about Captain America's origin is that it has Chris Evans not playing Chris Evans and actually giving him depth. Captain America isn't cocky like most of Evans's past characters have been in The Losers, Push and The Fantastic Four. We have him actually acting to something that isn't his type cast and doing it really well. He becomes Captain America and you don't even think of his egotistical turns in the past.

Unfortunately, not everything in Captain America is all rosy. For example, the romance. It's clunky and made obvious that it'll happen but it just picks up and takes off at random moment. The "romantic" and sentimental codeword "dance" is used all the way through. It's not given full screen-time and I think most of it was probably left on the cutting room floor.

Another post-credit sequence is here just like the other Avenger films. This has a very brief interaction between the captain and Nick Fury and then a teaser trailer for The Avengers.

It's got a great cast - with the exception of Dominic Cooper - like all the other Avenger films. It entertains throughout with great CGI and great set-designs. It really uses everything to fully immerse you. Between the action scenes, the clunky romance, Tommy Lee Jones's one-liners and Hugo Weaving's great villain, there's a great film with a great storyline; you just have to ignore the romantic sub-plot and prepare for the cheesiness of the '40s. Now, we've got to wait until next summer to see the follow-up to this superhero summer with The Avengers. Let's hope Joss Whedon makes it eclipse the origin stories and predecessors.


Monday, 25 July 2011

Horrible Bosses.

Horrible Bosses poster.

It's odd to think that this is hasn't been made into a film before. We've all had these sadistic thoughts; about how our lives would be easier without that knob who's in charge. That's the idea of this film - off the guy in charge who's making your life miserable. In this day and age with fingerprints, DNA, motive and too much CSI on the TV, it's a bit hard to actually get away with it.

Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx. Directed by Seth Gordon.

Nick Hendricks's (Jason Bateman) boss, Dave Harken (Kevin Spacey), works him to death, berates him for being two minutes late, tricks him into having a drink at eight in the morning and dangles a promotion in front of his face. Instead of giving it to the worthy Nick, he gives it to himself (only 85% of the wage though - self-sacrifice and all that). He claims it was a way to motivate him and that if Nick leaves, he'll make sure he never works in the industry again.

Dale Arbus's (Charlie Day) boss, Dr. Julia Harris D.D.S (the outstanding Jennifer Aniston), is a nymphomaniac who is constantly harassing Dale and pressuring him into having sex with her. At one point, she knocks him out and takes incriminating photo and half-rapes him ("you weren't even hard!"). Unfortunately, Dale is on the sex offender list for peeing in a children's playground in the middle of the night and Julia is the only dentist who's willing to hire him.

Plot: Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

Kurt Buckman (Jason Sudeikis) loves his boss (Donald Sutherland) and loves his job. What he doesn't love is his boss's cocaine addicted son, Bobby Pellit (Colin Farrell). In an unfortunate incidence, Kurt's beloved Jack Pellit dies from a heart attack leaving the cocaine-addicted mentalist in charge. Kurt's cushy job is now insanely awkward as he's asked to fire a fat person and a disabled man.

They joke around in a bar with a few drinks about how their lives would be easier without their bosses then they realise that they'd be doing "justifiable homicide" and come to the conclusion that they should hire professional help. The first professional who is hired to do the "wetwork" (Ioan Gruffudd) is a different professional so they have to look again. They go to the area with the most car-jackings and shout their business in a bar and end up enlisting an awesomely named Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx).

Dean "Motherfucker" Jones is their murder consultant and gives them the idea to kill each others bosses so they'll be swapping murders - a basis in Strangers on a Train and Throw Momma From the Train, which are both mentioned as if to avoid people claiming they "stole" the idea. This leads to recon which leads to planning which means joke after joke after joke with hijink after hijink. There are hilarious moments and moments that make you smile but not all of them are truly remarkable.

Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Matthew McConaughey, Dax Shepard, Ashton Kutcher, Paul Rudd, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeff Bridges, and Tom Cruise were all rumored for roles at some point.

For example, Charlie Day's voice starts to grate after half of the film so maybe he should stick to It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia as it's only half an hour long - that could be too much though. His grating voice could be the worst thing about this film and although he's funny at first and his character is quite funny, you can't quite get over that voice.

Jennifer Aniston may steal the entire film with the an entirely new role that shows she can change her character, can be versatile and still remain liked. Her sexual suggestions are all brilliant. Another good change is Colin Farrell's Tom Cruise like make-under with his combover and beer belly. He makes some hilarious jokes but he's pretty short-lived and not given enough time. Kevin Spacey is ever reliable and gives you laughs and real acting as massively cruel and hated boss.

This star-filled cast makes you laugh out loud and you come out entertained but it seems like a short film even though its running time is average (ninety-eight minutes) but it could have been a lot funnier and maybe have a better storyline. You'll be entertained but you might be left wanting something a little more memorable considering it's one of the original comedies of the year.


Ulterior motives.

Yesterday (the 23rd of July), I took Haz's three year-old sister to the park so she could go down slides and run around and be a happy little toddler. While we were there she made friends with a six year-old little girl called Louise. She ran around with her happily enough because Louise wanted to help little Jazmin get up and down from stuff because Jazmin is pretty small for her age. At one point, Jazmin ran to this fireman's pole and asked me to come over and help her slide down it so I did. Then, Louise came running over and asked the same thing so I obliged and helped her slide down just to make sure she didn't fall off or hurt herself.

This turned into a game for these two and they did it for a while. I noticed that the mother of this child - who made a snide comment under her breath when me and Haz walked past because we didn't thank her for moving her pram out of the way of something that Jazmin was on (common sense to not put it there in the first place but whatever) - turned to watch me to and kept an eye on me. I suppose it's understandable to be a little paranoid when the media is telling you all of this. Then, she called Louise over (I didn't notice since I was helping Jazmin) and when she came back she said to me "my mammy says I have to do it on my own." Her mother told her this because every good deed has to have an ulterior motive when, really, I just wanted to make sure no one hurt themselves. Pretty much, I was accused of having some other reason for wanting to help her down when all I did was say yes because she asked me to. I'm sure she would have said something had I said no so it's a lose-lose situation.

It's a shame to see that now everything you do is for some demented and twisted reason. Everything has to have a disgusting reason. There's no being a nice person any more. This is true for a lot of men because statistics are against us really so the judgements are understandable in a sense. If Haz had been doing it, would she have said the same thing? Was it that she thought I was going to kidnap her little girl? Was it just because I didn't say thank you for her moving her moveable object? I don't care about her really, she seemed like a horrible person with her glares, her muttering and her general listlessness when it came to her children. But then again, am I any better because I'm making a snap judgement right there? She judged me so I judged her. "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" but maybe we're already blind to good deeds?

Paranoia seems to be infecting us all. I must admit that I'm very paranoid in public and I'm wary in case someone tries to steal my wallet and/or phone. In fact, most of the time I lock my doors in my car in case someone tries to steal my car from me. Knowledge seems to be empowering us but also scaring us senseless. It's a mad world that we live in and this weekend has proved that. Is it possible that the film Surrogates might actually become true?

Everything is associated with something terrible. You help someone pick something up then you're stealing from them. You're nice to a child and you're a paedophile or a kidnapper. You accidentally walk into someone and you're picking a fight. You smile at someone and you're a pervert. You offer to help in any way shape or form then you want someone back. This is the new-age of paranoia now. The bad thing is, we can all justify this paranoia because of what we hear about on the news or from acquaintances. It's such a shame but it feels like a necessary precaution. In age where we're all networked via the internet and connected to one another, it seems that you can't make any real friendships from scratch on the street any more. It's probably more socially conventional to start it online.

Then, starting it online has its drawbacks. Online relationships have always been threatened thanks to the perverted few that took the internet as a way to be a predator so we're paranoid on there too. It just seems like all of our attempts are futile and that we may as well just all become hermits because the world is too dangerous. When it becomes technologically possible, I can see people actually becoming hermits and remaining home because it's the safer option. Existence will be dull and there'll be no real relationships; you won't know the person behind the machine. It's time to prepare for the anti-social era - it looks like its already begun.

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Tree of Life.

I'd just like to extend a gigantic middle finger to the final Harry Potter, Vue cinemas and the Odeon for not showing this film. Travelling to Cardiff was a fun day out but an inconvenience nonetheless. Although I did get to enjoy Cineworld and it's much better screens than Vue. Actually, it was a sort of blessing in disguise because this is a film looking for extreme artistic merit and an early Oscar nomination for its cinematography. In fact, it should win it. I read a review which said that if you took a screencap at any moment, it would be like a gorgeous and professional photograph and I concur. Terrence Malick is truly beautiful with his camera work, his colours, his depth, his composition, his everything. It's visually astounding.

Plot: The story centres around a family with three boys in the 1950s. The eldest son witnesses the loss of innocence.

The story centres around a middle-aged Jack who is recollecting his childhood from thinking about the death of his younger brother. It focusses on his relationships with his paradox-esque parents and the loss of innocence. It never specifies how he dies or who dies but that one of the brother dies at the young age of nineteen. This means that Jack as a crisis of faith and - in his middle-age - thinks about the the creation of life, the meaning of life and what is the best way to live life. It's also a philosophical take on when a child starts losing their naivety.

The film starts in the 1960s-ish with the mother, Mrs O'Brien (Jessica Chastain), receiving the terrible news that one of her sons has died. We then see Jack (Sean Penn) as an architect in present day, thinking about the loss of his brother which triggers other thoughts. This then starts from the start - but not the start of the story; the literal start of everything. This is a scene that includes the creation of the universe, volcanoes spewing lava to create the land, waves crashing, the beginning of biological life and even dinosaurs. The CGI is near perfect and is visually appealing. In fact, the lighting, composition and depth of the images that you see are perfect. It is visual brilliance and magnificent to see - it's incredibly difficult to explain the beauty of it but it is pretty much irrelevant. It's an interesting idea and it's very well done but it is just pointless to the storyline and tells nothing of the story, nor is it even clear that Jack is actually thinking this; it just happens. It just came across as pretentious - the whispering narrative of random philosophical questions didn't help this case either. We are insignificant yet complex in an infinite universe.

Cast: Brad Pitt, Hunter McCracken, Laramie Eppler, Tye Sheridan Sean Penn and Jessica Chastain. Directed by Terrence Malick.

After the creation of the world comes the creation of the O'Brien family. Starting with the eldest son, Jack. It shows the playful and graceful relationship he develops with his mother and it also shows the distance between him and his father (Brad Pitt). Then, as they grow up, it shows the conflict and how the parents are a contradiction. Their mother tries to teach them grace and to be delicate, caring and forgiving while their father teaches them to be tenacious, strict and to not let their aspirations and dreams escape like his dream of being a musician did. It's this contradiction that leads to young Jack's (Hunter McCracken) complicated relationship with his father.

Nothing really happens in the film bar fluid shots and smooth transitions from scene to scene and at points, nothing occurs. Just like nothing truly happens in your childhood yet it sticks with you. The true power comes from how powerfully you can relate to it. The relationships, the mundaneness of your childhood, the mistakes, the redemption, the angst, the confusion, the jealousy and every emotion that you ever feel in your life. As it flows, you get whispered narrative from Jack (young and middle-aged), Mrs O'Brien and Mr O'Brien but the moments I enjoyed the most were the moments where there was real dialogue, a real scene and a real memory. They seemed heartfelt, realistic and hard for Jack to bear. There's a moment where Mr O'Brien asks if the family isn't good enough for Jack because he wanted company. Obviously, that's wrong considering Jack's close relationships with his two brothers, R.L. (Laramie Eppler - Brad Pitt's lovechild, he must be!) and Steve (Tye Sheridan).

The five editors of the film worked on it for three years, editing around 600,000 metres of Source: Total Film.

His father believes in the idea of money and believes it's important. He is strict with the boys and offers stern guidelines so they can be successful when they're older. Brad Pitt plays it excellently as he is easily believable as strict but still maintains his likeability. He tells his children that he only does this because he loves them. He offers a hot and cold relationship where he shows seconds of affection with hugs and kisses but pushes them away at a safe distance so they know not to get comfortable with it. While the mother maintains the role of endless affection. Of course this is all subjective and all from the memories of Jack. Memories which he could have twisted and tampered with so we only have the biased view of a middle-aged man who has a complicated relationship with his father.

The origin of this film goes back to the late 1970s, when after Days of Heaven director Terrence Malick was working on a project named "Q", that would explore the origins of life on earth. He abandoned the project, but this film contains elements from it.

After the long childhood memories, we're dragged back to present day with a depressed Sean Penn who can't control his emotions. He even phones his father to apologise for something he said. Then, we're taken to the desert while Jack walks around looking for answers to his life questions and his faith troubles. He follows his younger self around this desert, through random doorways until he's led to a beach. This is where there's a sort of reunion of the family members from his childhood memories and all the characters we met along the way. It seems like an afterlife-esque reunion where everyone just walks and talks with each other.

The only true problems are the narrative and the pretentiousness of the film. The storytelling isn't very clear nor is it consistent and nor is anything relative but then again, maybe that's a metaphor for life and how everything isn't relative but it's still there. It's very subjective and highly relies on you to sit and think and ponder our existence and the meaning of each and every shot. Is that too much to expect of an audience? Lately, it probably is and that's why I feel so ashamed and sorry for the people who left the screening because they didn't understand the importance nor did they appreciate the artistic abilities of this creation. The whispy narrative and the generic "why?" questions don't raise much but the pictures evoke more. It's for those who don't just want to be entertained but want to be educated, have a real connection to the film or want to see things differently. It's got more to think about than Transformers 3 anyway. I'd recommend seeing it in the cinema because it's all in the details and the cinema can give you the clarity needed. At least watch it on Blu-Ray and not DVD. There's so much to say and I will watch it again.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon poster.

I know it's a sin for a cinephile and/or critic to not hate Michael Bay but I don't. Yes, he uses big budgets. Yes, he appeals to the eyes only. Yes, he appeals to philistines and morons everywhere but he's good at what he does. For example, I love the Bad Boys films. I think they're really funny and full of great action scenes and they have their right in any DVD collection of anyone who enjoys films. It's a genre as much as any other because not everything has to be hard hitting theatre. Although the first Transformers was good, the sequel (now sequels) haven't lived up to the first.

Plot: The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

The worst thing about the second was the incoherence and the attempt at humour. The added screen time of Sam's mother was just painful and cringe worthy (but not in the good cringe worthy way). The tiny robot who humps Megan Fox's legs and changes sides. The flatmate who isn't funny nor worthwhile to watch. The RC twins who were - at the end of the day - racist stereotypes. That along with the fact the storyline was incoherent, flawless lines like "this is top secret - do not tell my mother", Megan Fox's white trousers that couldn't get dirty in the desert and they slapped every geography teacher in the face with their setting.

It felt like he'd evolve the roles of the second to more painfully unfunny and when I heard the news that the little robot had a friend, I was almost devastated. The truth is though, this wasn't that bad. It was much better than the second. Although it did nearly make my bladder explode with a running time of almost three hours, I found myself enjoyed throughout - mostly anyway. Except for almost every Rosie Huntington-Whiteley scene because she made Megan Fox look like a multi-Oscar winner in comparison.

It's the same storyline, and that's a problem. In the three films, the same thing happens really. There's a small bad guy, then an army of bad guys, they look like they might win but then Optimus Prime saves the day. That is the Transformers formula and although the first one was original in a sense, these others are carbon copies but with bigger spectacles and with some sub-plots and horrible attempts at character development. If they used the second film as a cliff hanger, with the Decepticons ruling Earth, then the follow-up would be a much more interesting story and possibly more anticipated.

"There's a reason we never went back." A tagline which could possibly be credited as plagiarised from the upcoming Apollo 18 film is the main storyline. We knew something was on the moon so the Americans raced the Russians to the moon to see what was on there. They discovered a Cybertronian spacecraft which had crash landed after leaving Cybertron with precious cargo. This cargo was a collection of pillars which could be used as a teleportation device. This would bring armies to a certain spot instantly which is a huge military advantage and the Decepticons want this so they can finally control Earth.

Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Patrick Dempsey, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Alan Tudyk and Tyrese Gibson. Directed by Michael Bay.

Your first scene of the new love interest, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), is of her in underwear and a long shirt which isn't long enough to cover her arse. You can tell Bay has directed a Victoria's Secret advert before and that's her part of the deal in this film really. Megan Fox left a void, a very sexy, hot void which needed to be filled and who's better than an underwear model? The camera practically air humps her in every shot, ogling her every curve and I'd be game for that usually but Rosie has annoyingly big lips, a flat Na'Vi like nose and terrible acting abilities. Maybe I'm being too harsh on FHM's sexiest woman of the year but I just personally don't see it.

John Malkovich interviews Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) who is jobless after successfully graduating college and is a minor role in this film. His career is taking a turn with this and R.E.D. Now these are agonising scenes. With John Malkovich fake tanned up to the max and being pretty abused as an actor, it's hard to like these scenes. Especially the unfunny scenes involving Ken Jeong of Mr. Chow fame playing inappropiate Mr. Chow without the accent and the profanity. These scenes don't make you laugh, they don't even raise smiles; they just want you to hurry the scenes along so you don't have to listen to this awkwardness. There's a new person (Frances McDormand's Mearing) in charge of the Autobots who doesn't trust them again and doesn't believe that they should be here, which is the same as the first three.

Enter a new threat, a new transformer and a slight twist in the story. It's like a zinger, not a twist. After the set-up scenes, the film does get more interesting and then the action can commence. That's all Transformers films are are action and that's what you want. You want a spectacle. You want to be entertained. You don't go in expecting some hard-hitting emotional rollercoaster. You want explosions, guns and robots massacring each other.

There are some welcome changes and some welcome characters in this new adventure. For example, Patrick Dempsey's turn as Dylan - Carly's boss - is interesting and well acted. The best addition of them all though is Alan Tudyk's Dutch. He is actually funny. He's the man that made Serenity a whole lot funnier and Dodgeball a whole lot weirder (he was the pirate).

Shia LeBeuof has apparently turned down roles in The Social Network, 127 Hours, The Bourne Legacy and The Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The first two films produced three Oscars and seven Golden Globes as well as other accolades. Also, the other two are set to be huge blockbusters. Yet, he did Wall Street 2, Eagle Eye and Disturbia. Source: Details and Total Film.

You have to respect the team behind the CGI and the vision that goes into these films. There were numerous impressive moments with the CGI and the way things fit and fall and fight. Especially in 3D, it was just intricately detailed and was Super-HD like all other 3D films. All in all, it was much better than the second but shy of the third. Maybe a reboot is what is needed with the inevitable fourth (Jason Statham is rumoured to take the helm of them). Maybe they should stay loyal to the cartoons a bit more and bring Unicron in it to resurrect Megatron and create Galvatron. The story of the next has to be different otherwise they'll have no chance of extending the franchise further really.