Archive for the Movies Category

I love it when a Film comes together.

Posted in Movies, The A-Team with tags , on August 22, 2010 by pieman70

I recently saw the new A-Team remake and I thought I’d do a post on it.

For those who don’t know, the A-Team was originally a US action TV series about an on the run military unit who helped out people in need.  It ran from 1982-1987 and when shown in the UK when I was about 4 or 5  it was a major part of my childhood.

Unlike some of the other integral parts of my childhood, such as Knight Rider, which is still fun as an adult, the A-Team still stands up.  It’s not high art, but it treads a very fine line with comedy plans, situations and solutions to problems, played largely straight by the characters.  When I heard there was a remake in the mix I had misgivings.  The balance of comedy and action without the characters ever slipping into playing it for comedy would be a hard nut to crack.  My biggest fears for a big budget remake were basically split into 3 groups.

1.  Dark and gritty, yes it worked for Galactica, but making the A-Team a dark action film about hard-bitten soldiers would have at best been a good film, but it wouldn’t be the A-Team.

2. The Starskey and Hutch route, going into it with a knowing silliness and straight comedy.  Again could have been good, wouldn’t have been The A-team

3. A Gangsta rapper being cast as BA.  They;d be lining up to play a larger than life character originally portrayed by wrestler Mr T, and the studios would love the extra draw a Rapper would give, but I bet it would become a “Vehicle” film, with every other cast member becoming a cipher for BA to riff off of.

Fortunately, none of this happened.  Instead the studio brought in Stephen J Cannell, one of the original creators and as a result what we got was a film that can be listed as the best of any of the recent spate of remakes.  This is the A-team of my youth, its a perfect reproduction.

Laim Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Sharlto Copeley star as Hannibal, Face, BA and Murdoch respectively, the film tells an origin story (Which If I recall we never saw on the small screen).  We see the gang get together and perform the heist that had them incarcerated, although the action is obviously moved to the Iraq war rather than Vietnam.  After a double cross by some Private military Contractors our team find themselves Locked up in a maximum security stockade, they promptly escape and go out for revenge.  Dogged by soldiers trying to retrieve them and a corrupt CIA agent they must uncover the conspiracy that landed them in jail.

The cast make the film, they nail the characters, ok so we have a slight subplot of Face making a plan instead, and a mentor/student relationship between Face and Hannibal, and a similar plot regarding a significantly less angry BA, but it doesn’t jar or seem out of place even to an old fan such as myself.  The Murdoch/BA bickering is note perfect (In fact  Copeley is probably the best in his depiction of Murdoch, a character which could have easily descended into pratfalls and silly voices) we have OTT action, convoluted plans and baddies getting their comeuppance.

This film is not High art, but it left me with a huge grin on my face, to be honest a picture of my huge grin would have been a better, less wordy review.

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Iron Man 2

Posted in Iron Man, Marvel, Movies, War Machine with tags , , , on June 16, 2010 by pieman70

Well, I posted a bit showing my excitement for this film, and I have actually seen it, should I perhaps post a review.  I will warn at the moment, I won’t shy away from spoilers.

First, a plot summary, picking up where Iron man left off, Tony Stark has gone public about being Iron Man, and has been using the armour for some time, both in a “Fighting Evil” role and for publicity stunts like we see in the opening.  Only problem is that the Arc Reactor in his chest is slowly killing him and as he sees death coming Stark begins to act more and more recklessly.  A situation not helped by senate hearings demanding Stark hand over Iron man to the military and a new threat in the form of Disgruntled Russian Vanko.

This film has taken a fair amount of criticism, mainly for being more of the same.  For my money I think more of Iron Man is no bad thing, there were some nice echoes to Tony’s remarkably flaky character, and particularly the Demon in a bottle Story as Stark goes off the rails in quite a bad way.  While Vanko is more grunts and gestures as a villain perhaps the real for is Justin Hammer, a rival arms manufacturer who works really well as a potential rival to carry through future films.  It also sets up a bigger supporting cast, we saw Nick Fury at the end of Iron man and we’re also introduced to The Black Widow as well as more screen time for Faverau himself as Happy Hogan and Don Cheadle taking the role of Jim Rhodes/War Machine and making it his own.

On the Cheadle/Howard front.  I had no objections to Cheadle, and actually think he captured the comic’s version of Jim Rhodes and particularly War Machine that may not have suited Howard’s depiction in the first film.

Criticisms, well, introducing such a big cast means some people get less screen time, Vanko isn’t particularly fleshed out as the main Villain, and we don’t see that much of Black Widow.  If you’re wanting a non-stop action fest then you’ll probably be disappointed too as there is still more Tony than Iron Man.

Thing is, to me Iron Man has always been more about Tony than Iron Man.  He’s often compared to Batman (Both rich orphans who dress up and fight crime) however, while with Batman there is a real ambiguity over whether Bruce Wayne dresses up as batman, or batman dresses up as Bruce Wayne, there was never such ambiguity with Iron Man.  People criticise Tony’s wisecracking and the films humour, but this is part of his character.  Indeed while I’m never sure about Tony/pepper pairings the chemistry between the characters and the witty rapport would be sorely missed if it was excised from the film, more so if it was excised for brooding.

I suppose you’ll like or dislike this film based on how much you like the central premise of Iron Man.  I’ve heard people complain that it lacked Darkness or grit, yes it does, and to add that to Iron man would make it more generic and less unique.  If you accept that this is a film about a guy who, to an extent masks his insecurities with a bombastic public persona, and a big metal suit you’ll definitely have more fun.

For Fans, the film has some really good references.  Obviously we all love the Avengers stuff and the Thor cameo post credits, but there were other gems.  During the race scene one car is sponsored by Roxxon, a fictional Marvel company, Cap’s Shield makes an appearance again and my personal favourite is the War Machine suit being called the Variable Threat Response suit, a nod to the comic’s designation.  In fact, a nice touch is the lack of people calling themselves names.  Rhodes never calls himself War Machine (Although Tony calls him this once) and similarly Vanko doesn’t turn up saying “Cower Iron Man, now you face the might of Whiplash” its good, fans and toy manufacturers know who these people are, but to add their names to dialogue would seem clunky.  Not that it may not happen in the future, particularly if Titanium Man or Crimson Dynamo makes an appearance. (You could argue that Crimson Dynamo already has although he wasn’t crimson)

So, I really enjoyed this, and it has 100% more War Machine tan any other film released in 2010, in fact than any film released to date, so that must count in its favour.

War Machine in Iron man 2 Teaser

Posted in Marvel, Movies, Uncategorized, War Machine with tags , , on August 17, 2009 by pieman70

The CDCC footage of Iron Man 2 has been leaked, War Machine is confirmed. I have my reservations, but can’t help being excited that I get to see War Machine on the big screen. It shows teh faith I have in Favereau to do the character justice.

I hope my faith is not misplaced, roll on Iron Man 2

Not another Star Trek Review

Posted in Movies, Star Trek with tags , on May 11, 2009 by pieman70

Saw the new JJ Abrahms Star Trek Relaunch, and it is gooooood.

I was going to open with a jokey fanboy type jibe of how it was a travasty and a slap in the face to all “Real” fans, but you know what, forget that. It is brilliant. There is fun, there is sadness there is action. Pine carries Kirks swagger with charm, Quinto really manages to bring Spock’s inner conflict to screen and Urban’s Dr McCoy is the best thing in a film filled with best things.

Criticisms, Abrahms coudl have cut down on the lens flare effect, it got a little annoying, and the Enterprise is still pretty duff, but these are small niggles in an otherwise storming film.

Trek is back. Oh yes.

Oh no, not another Watchmen Review

Posted in Movies with tags on March 11, 2009 by pieman70

Sorry, its the law, if you have a blog you have to express your opinion of Watchmen, its a tradition, or an old charter or something.

Me, I liked it. A lot. I’d watch it again, in fact I’d even pay over £6 (but less than £20) to see it again.

Ok, not much of a review, but this will include a ramble. One is a random outside theory. See I’ve been reading posts on forums etc about Watchmen, and its interesting how there is divided opinion even amongst those who read the original comic. My theory about this is as follows. I read watchmen years ago, but on seeing the film my knowledge of the greater exploration a comic with no time constraints meant somewhere in the back of my head I had the extra bits of story not covered in the film, and so my enjoyment of the film was augmented by my prior knowledge of the backstory. Those who thought the film was Ok tended to be complaining about how elements of character were lost through their lack of inclusion, which is a fair criticism. Its also why I’d really like to see some reviews from people who are not critics, perhaps like super-heroes but haven’t read Watchmen as it would be interesting to see if not knowing the source material does anything.

But this is not what I want to rant about. Indeed if I was going to follow this thread I’d be gushing about how damn lucky we are to get such a good film made of Watchmen (Considering Snyder got presented with a PG-13 script with possibility of franchise). That’s the great thing, if it flops at the box office we don’t care, in fact hope it does, that way no-one will try and make a half baked sequel.

But I digress before i started. One of the things that is bothering me is that before the film is even out a week people are talking about the directors edition DVD, which will include extra scenes and have bits cut in such as elements from the “Tales of the Black Freighter”. Now my inner geek should be relishing the longer cut, because the proles just can’t sit through 4 hours of film, but it bothers me. See, way back when Blade Runner: The Directors Cut came out, it felt more like it was undoing studio interference, which is a good thing. Aliens: Special edition was probably the first one that I can recall where they really just added a few extra scenes that were originally cut, good scenes mind, bucking the trend that all too often something is cut for a reason. What I’m really getting at though is to Directors, if you want these bits in the film, put them in. Lord of the Rings was one of the most prominent to do “Extended” editions, with extra bits not seen in the cinema, and indeed announce their release more or less while the films were still showing. I personally feel part of the skill of being a Director, particularly working on condensing dense works such as Lord of the Rings or Watchmen into a cinematic length you can sit through without your bladder rupturing, is to do so without leaving stuff out. There seems to be more of a habit now to say “Yes, this is the cinematic release, but wait till you see what I’m putting on the DVD”

There are many times i will forgive a directors edition. I hear good things about the Directors Cut of Daredevil, which undid studio interference and made it more of a hidden gem in the super hero films that it already is, and the Special Edition with re-jigged effects of Star Trek: The Motion Picture really improves on the original and (Listen up George Lucas) is probably what I’d call the textbook on how to do a Special edition. I’d be very interested to see what a Directors Cut of the mostly poor Avengers film (The Uma Thurman/Ralph Feinnes one) would be like as one reviewer likened it more to a bout of “When studios attack” and similarly Shatner has always wanted to do a Directors cut of Star Trek V.

When there has been resistance or interference that only a good box office or support on DVD can allow you to overcome, then yes, by all means, make a special edition, release the film as you wanted to, let us judge who was right. But Watchmen, Lord of the Rings, they were great already, if you wanted to add more, we’d have sat through it. Ok in watchmen if they are giving the option to see the black freighter stuff intercut or not then that’s fine, but really, anything else you could have added in.

In short, unless there is a very good reason not to put footage into the cinematic cut, put it in there, because I’m getting bored of people talking about how much more awesome the DVD will be.

Does whatever an Iron Can

Posted in Comics, Iron Man, Marvel, Movies with tags , , , on May 6, 2008 by pieman70

I Saw the superlative Iron Man this weekend. It was a gamble, first film that Marvel have self funded, and I think it paid off.

Spoiler hats on kids.

Reviews have been mixed, with comic and SF reviews being positive, and the serious press being lukewarm. The serious reviews bemoan the lack of a big bad through, complaining that what we have is about an hour or so of Stark inventing Armour, then one big fight at the end. I personally think this was the film’s strength. A film lead by any other studio would no doubt have balked at Iron Man only facing the Iron Monger ta the end, preferring him to be beaten first, recover from a crisis of confidence and go on to prevail.

So, to me brilliant film. In the opening acts, despite him being an amoral arms dealer, I wanted to be Tony Stark, and after his incarceration you just like him more. Robert Downy Jr really nailed the part. The scenes between him and Pepper Potts (Which I was dubious about) also really worked and they had a definite chemistry.

There was also a lot of succulent meat for us comic fans. Jim Rhodes hinting at War Machine, the 10 rings alluding to the mandarin, and of course SHIELD with the post credits Samuel L Jackson cameo as Nick Fury.

Overall a top film, if this is what Marvel can produce without meddling studios, long may they fund their own films.

Change for changes sake

Posted in Movies, Star Trek with tags , on August 17, 2007 by pieman70

Bit of a diversion from my usual rants about commuting and topical news or things that happened near me.

Was reading an article in SFX regarding this new Star Trek remake that JJ Abrahams is doing (Still a dubious idea in my book but I hope to be proven wrong). Anyway the article itself, as there were not shots from the film available what with it being in the casting stage, was illustrated with some beautiful renders of the original pre-refit Enterprise. One of the captions however made me think; it asked would it appear in the new film. This will be a reference to the suspicion that the film will be a “Starfleet Academy” concept bandied around since the 1970s. However it made me think, would a studio re-design the Enterprise perhaps calling its design dated. It’s a worry because there will be a definite drive to make it look modern and relevant, and some might find the look of the old enterprise too 60s. I disagree, if you look at the renders you can see its a timeless design, I hope they really do focus on keeping the look consistent with how classic trek looked, not wobbly sets and velour uniforms, but the look and feel but with a higher budget. Above all Abrahams should be very careful of change for changes sake.