Thursday, 24 November 2011

Attack the Block

This is a great alien attack movie, set in a grimey London tower block. It's not new, subtle or revolutionary, but it's a great ride for anyone with a couple of hours spare. And there are some great alien creatures too...

 I'm a great fan of Joe Cornish, the comedian/first-time director of this movie. I was thinking of writing a long-winded review about this, but, well, there's no point really. It's exactly what it says on the tin. The aspect I did really like though, were the alien creatures. Instead of going with low-budget cgi beasts, like those used in numerous tv shows and movies, the makers used some real imagination and created some brilliant scary beasts. They're black, totally black so all you see is a dark furry outline, but then the beasts open their mouths to reveal amazing glowing blue fangs! Like in  many classic creature horror films, they used imagination and originality in the place of generic snore-inducing effects.

 I'd love to rave about this, but it's not really that kind of film. It has the feel of an old favourite, that you'll watch whenever it comes on the tv, but probably won't rush to go and buy. Saying that, those who're fans of creatures, like me, should definitely seek this out. I liked the setting and the characters; a gang of 'hoodies' in a rough London estate, but the antithesis of grimey modern life and hollywood sci-fi concept didn't really have the novelty factor that it wanted. Anyone who's watched Shaun of the Dead, the first 2 seasons of the TV show Misfits, or many other cult films will have seen this scenario before so it's not quite as funny as it could be.

Saturday, 19 November 2011


Here's a quick review of this 2008 British film about the notorious "Britains most violent criminal" Michael Gordon Peterson aka Charlie Bronson. It's a really well-made, stylish and well acted movie, that's a strangely compelling but ultimately fruitless watch. I felt it was perhaps over-stylised, possibly due to the lack of content the story of this "notorious" character actually provides.

At the end of the day, the message of the film is that Bronson is a typical violent thug, with little self-awareness or even any really interesting things to say, who became 'infamous' because he was more violent and idiosyncratic than other prisoners. He was randomly renamed Charlie Bronson by his fight promoter, during the brief 69 days he spent out of prison, and much of what he did was just that, random. Unlike the stories of many infamous criminals that have been made into films, such as the incredible French epic Mesrine, Bronson  accomplishes virtually nothing in his life, except spending decades in solitary confinement. Whilst this makes him a great character study for an actor, it leaves little to actually show us.

Still, there are some all too brief glimpses of some great cameo characters, some cool music and a brilliant performance from Tom Hardy. I felt aware that the actual pivotal moments of the story, such as the 69 days Bronson spends out of jail, were the most interesting but also the most fictionalised. Bronson has no real goals or motivations in life, other than some brief dalliances with women, doing crap artwork and vaguely wanting to be famous, so who has a clue how and why he interacted with those around him.
Unless you're interested in seeing the inside of a prison cell or a psychiatric ward with electro music playing, there's little insight offered by this film, other than a bit of black-comedy and a lot of naked (at times very homoerotic) fight scenes. Watch it for some great acting, but not for curiosity or intrigue; solitary confinement is as dull as it sounds.

Labyrinth: Why this is the greatest children’s film of all time…

Labyrinth: Why this is the greatest children’s film of all time…

My local independent cinema recently showed the amazing cult-classic children’s movie Labyrinth. I grew up idolizing this incredible film, and like many, am still totally in love with it.  It’s a funny, heart-warming and quirky film, in which the creatures and monsters of imagination are brought to life by fantastic puppetry and beautiful set designs. The magical Labyrinth, full of grumpy goblins, scary fairies and the terrifying “Bog of Eternal Stench!” has quietly seared itself into the conscience of a generation of youngsters. Quite simply, you either love this film, or don’t know about it.

If you have never come across this film, you will still be more than familiar with the work of many of those involved. It could be Jim Henson’s Muppets, Terry Jones in Monty Python, George Lucas’ Star Wars or, of course, the legendary David Bowie. Along with director Frank Oz, artists Brian and Wendy Froud and actress Jennifer Connelly, these people have all had a huge impact on modern culture.

Unusually for a cult favourite, this film never seems to get the love and attention it deserves online. It only gets rated at 62% on movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, and there isn’t really too much information out there for fans. Here’s the less than enticing  information from Labyrinth’s Wikipedia page:

“Labyrinth is a 1986 British/American fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, produced by George Lucas, and designed by Brian Froud. Henson collaborated on the screenwriting with children's author Dennis Lee, Terry Jones from Monty Python, and Elaine May (although only Jones received screen credit).
The film stars David Bowie as Jareth the Goblin King and Jennifer Connelly as Sarah Williams. The plot revolves around Sarah's quest to find the way through an enormous otherworldly maze so that she can rescue her little brother, Toby, from Jareth. Most of the other significant roles are played by puppets or by a combination of puppetry and human performance. It was shot on location in New York and at Elstree Studios and Hampstead Heath in the UK. It was the last feature film directed by Henson before his death in 1990”.

So I think this film deserves so much more recognition. For some reason, perhaps simply because it’s a children’s film, because of it’s fairytale theme, or because it’s so idiosyncratic and fantastical, it has never reached the iconic status of the likes of Star Wars or even The Muppets.  Well, over the next few weeks I’m going to be writing about why this movie is, without a doubt, the greatest children’s film of all time and why it, and the artists and techniques used to make it, deserves to be regarded with tremendous respect along with nostalgia and affection.

 If you agree with me please get in touch, or if you disagree let me know too!
Coming up first will be:

Part One: The fantastic Froudian artwork     

Friday, 18 November 2011

Great news for Guillermo Del Toro and Hellboy fans

Just spotted this news regarding Del Toro's new film Pacific Rim. Ron Perlman is set to be a part of the movie. Fans of cult movies will know Perlman from the likes of City of Lost Children, Cronos, Hellboy and also the awesome TV show Sons on Anarchy. He's a great actor, especially when given space to just be himself and inhabit a role. He seems completely natural as the leader of a motorcycle gang, a dumbwitted henchman or even a huge red monster from hell!

Pacific Rim itself is really exciting, can't wait to see the Lovecraftian creatures come to life!

 "Del Toro: Perlman's in Pacific Rim
Guillermo del Toro has confirmed that Ron Perlman will appear in the upcoming Pacific Rim.
The Hellboy filmmaker and the actor, who have been frequent collaborators since his directorial debut Cronos, are set to continue their working relationship for the monster movie.
"We are working with actors I absolutely adore. Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman," he told Wired.
Guillermo - who co-wrote the screenplays for Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings prequels, The Hobbit - described Pacific Rim as "a very, very beautiful poem to giant monsters".
"Giant monsters versus giant robots. We're trying to create a world in which the characters are real and how it would affect our world politically, how it would affect the landscape if creatures like this really came out of the sea, etc," he continued.
Based on a screenplay by Travis Beacham, the film centres on huge creatures travelling through a vortex in the Pacific Rim where they attack major cities and battle humans.
He previously said: "This is my most un-modest film, this has everything. The scale is enormous and I'm just a big kid having fun."

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Aardman's Pirates Trailer: will 3d animation work?

The trailer for AARDMAN pirates was recently released.

Aardman Animations are the wonderful animation company based in Bristol (UK). They’re the genius crew behind the likes of Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Chicken Run. Their latest creation looks really exciting, especially for fans of stop-motion animation. It’s a Pirates movie: a 3d stop-motion masterpiece by the looks of it! 

Check out the trailer:


It'll be interesting to see how their unique and quirky style works with 3d and greenscreen technology. Aardman's Peter Lord said, "With Pirates!, I must say that the new technology has made Pirates! really liberating to make, easy to make because the fact that you can shoot a lot of green screen stuff, the fact that you can easily extend the sets with CG, the fact that you can put the sea in there and a beautiful wooden boat that, frankly, would never sail in a million years, you can take that and put it into a beautiful CG scene and believe it."

It could be a disaster of course; A lot of people, me included, thought the recent Tintin animated movie was quite "uncanny" and cold. It was fun and nostagic, but represented the opposite of a Wallace and Gromit film, as a film that was instantly forgettable, and in a few years time will surely be outdated and dull to look at. Aardmans animations will still be beautiful and watchable in 100 years time.

Personally I love it when everything seen on screen is real. It gives the best animated films a real depth and they feel special. The likes of Coraline and Wallace and Gromit weren't designed by a load of geeks on computers, they were a labour of love created by huge teams of talented artists.  One of my favourite animated films ever is Mary and Max, an incredibly moving and inventive film, in which Everything you see on screen is real! I will review this as soon as I get a copy and watch it again; it's wonderful!
So let's just hope Aardmans experiments work, and they create movie magic as pioneering as their other wonderful work.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

On the Edge of PACIFIC RIM

On the Edge of PACIFIC RIM

Finally, it begins. For the first time in more than 4 years (HELLBOY 2), Guillermo Del Toro is behind the camera and in the director’s chair. (It may also seem like at least that long since our website has been updated!). GDT said himself on our message boards that he is “very excited and anxious to tackle this film.”
Here are the principle cast, as reported on IMDB:
Charlie Day (Always Sunny in Philadephia): Newt Gotlieb
Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy): Raleigh Antrobus
Idris Elba (The Wire): Stacker Pentecost
Max Martini (The Unit): Herc Hansen
…and some crew members of note:
Guillermo Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth): Cinematographer
Mike Elizalde (Hellboy 2): Creature effects
TyRuben Ellingson (Blade 2): Concept designer
Elinore Rose Galbraith (Mimic): Art design
The shoot is scheduled to wrap in May 2012 at Pinewood Studios in Toronto.
Also, in an interview with, GDT mentions that Ron Perlman will have a role in PACIFIC RIM, but did not give details.
Now, as I had mentioned, it has been too long since we had an update on the website, so here are some “quick hit” items to get caught up on:
There is a great interview with GDT at, where he talks about his new book with Chuck Hogan, THE NIGHT ETERNAL, among other things. Here are some of my favorite quotes that interview:
There’s a passage at the end of The Night Eternal where one of the characters, Mr. Q, says, “The language of God is biology.” Essentially he says that god sends the letter, but he doesn’t send the dictionary.
I agree with that idea. And that’s what we started with. For example, if I was writing Dracula right now, how would I deal with the arrogance of science? Because science is very, very arrogant. And I thought, “Well, the best way to deal with that is with an epidemic.”
Of particular note in the interview is this sentence: Chuck (Hogan) and I are working on a series of books that I can’t talk too much about. But we started on that about two weeks ago.
GDT also reports that a screenplay for the HULK pilot has been turned in to ABC, and a screenplay for HAUNTED MANSION has been turned in to Disney.

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