Thursday, 31 October 2013

Recent reviews at Filmoria: Machete Kills, The Conspiracy, Snitch and more

Another day, another blog post that is simply pointing you in the direction of more of my writing around the web; this time to my recent reviews for Filmoria. Cinema reviews include two documentaries; How to Survive a Plague and More Than Honey as well as the incredibly silly but quite fun Machete Kills. All the rest are DVD and Blu-Ray releases: Brian De Palma's The Fury, Dwayne Johnson in Snitch and a trio of horror films. First there is horror mock-doc The Conspiracy, then heartthrob Luke Evans is a psycho in No One Lives and finally there is the sci-fi horror crossbreed that is Dark Skies. Click the titles to check out the reviews:

Definitely not a documentary on an imagined future pandemic. How to Survive a Plague instead deals with a threat that has already wiped millions off the planet: AIDS.

Sandwiched between classics Carrie and Blow Out sits Brian De Palma‘s The Fury. It may not have the reputation of those two but I found it to be a highly entertaining horror/thriller experiment casting Kirk Douglas in the role of aging action hero.

Snitch is not quite your typical big, dumb The Rock movie. It features Susan Sarandon for a start and is based on a true story about a father forced to extreme measures to help his drug busted son.

In The Conspiracy, two filmmakers Jim and Aaron are making a documentary on conspiracy theories before they get sucked in to a dangerous world of secret societies

Machete Kills is the gloriously OTT sequel to Robert Rodriguez's orginal film based on the titular anti-hero played by Danny Trejo.

Luke Evans plays a real nasty piece of work in this very violent horror that should have been more than it is.

Markus Imhoof’s documentary More Than Honey attempts to get to the bottom of the problem of why bees are dying out and what this could mean for human life on the planet.

From the producers behind Paranormal Activity, Dark Skies has spooky goings on in a family filled suburban house but it isn't ghosts this time but aliens that are bothering the characters.

Seen any of these? What did you think?

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Walking Dead Ratings Rise as Homeland Hits a Rough Patch

AMC's The Walking Dead is going from strength to strength at the moment in its fourth savage season. Showtime's Homeland on the other hand has seen a bit of a ratings slide in its third season with a fair few fans choosing to switch off rather than stick with the flailing CIA drama. Nevertheless I'm certainly still watching both series and finding plenty to write about over at Yahoo.

The Walking Dead: A virus in the cells
First up is my review of the third episode of season four where a sickness is still spreading within the prison walls. It is a virus that pays no attention to fences, doors and walls. Infection is seeping into the cells of the prison and no one is safe!
The Walking Dead renewed for fifth season
'The Walking Dead' is growing in popularity every year with season four currently airing to exceptional viewing figures. Surprise, surprise... AMC have just announced they will be making a fifth season to continue the ongoing saga of the dead. Who knows how long this will show last?
Homeland: Game Changer
Homeland has been playing a very dangerous game in season three. Alienating fans and deceiving the audience for the first three episodes in a long con that finally gets an unexpected pay off in the closing moments of episode four: Game On.
Homeland threatened by ratings slide
The viewing figures for 'Homeland' are looking increasingly bleak as the fourth episode of season three pulls in less viewers than previous weeks. Will fans ever forgive seasons three's failings?
Homeland makes a comeback after ratings slump
'Homeland' recently returned for its third season but has been facing falling viewing figures with each new episode. A major plot twist at the end of the fourth episode however appears to have reversed the fortunes of the ailing CIA drama.
More Homeland and Walking Dead posts at I Love That Film:

Monday, 28 October 2013

The Return of Ron Burgundy and Mick Taylor

Two outdated alpha males are making their way back to the big screen in exciting sequels. One is Ron Burgundy in Anchorman 2 and the other is the dreaded Mick Taylor in Wolf Creek 2. Ron Burgundy may be there to tickle your funny bone but he's as backward as Mick Taylor in his sexist, racist ways, if not quite as frightening. The new trailers for these two films show off the repetition that keeps us comfortable coming back for more from unnecessary but oh so tempting sequels.

Anchorman 2 sees the news team re-assemble in the 80s and completely unable to face the same old problems. Women and ethnic minorities threaten their bone headed supremacy and the team seem to have learned little from their time taking on Christina Applegate's female anchor in the previous film. Brick is still as lovably dumb as ever, Ron as arrogant, Champ probably as closeted and Brian still has plenty of clunky ways to impress the ladies. Let's hope all the jokes don't repeat themselves and that the improvisation has again captured quotable lightning in bottle.

At the other end of the laughs scale is Wolf Creek 2 which promises a bit more spectacle in terms of stunts but almost certainly a distinct lack of laughs. While Mick Taylor can come across as a bit of loveable Aussie rogue, he is anything but. He may be as true blue and fair dinkum as Crocodile Dundee but he's also, as anyone who has seen Wolf Creek will tell you, a sadistic lunatic. The first film was terrifyingly realistic and while the sequel may have lost a bit of the believability, it still looks like it will be a gripping Aussie shocker. Buckle up for the trailer below:

Wolf Creek 2 Trailer

Anchorman 2 International Trailer

Anchorman 2 New Trailer

More trailers from I Love That Film:

Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Need for Speed

The LEGO Movie

The Wolf of Wall Street

Man of Steel and The Desolation of Smaug

Branching out into the world of technology

Yahoo have asked me to start contributing articles on science and technology and so eager to impress, I have been getting stuck in to researching and writing articles on a range of topics from 3D printing to the Oculus Rift.

Finger print scanners? I'll take my chances with passwords
With the introduction of finger print identification technology, you may no longer need a password or a pin number to access your accounts, your money or your personal details. I ask if this really a good thing or just another way for Big Brother to keep even better tabs on us all.
Computer science essential in the modern classroom
Computer science is becoming increasingly important in modern society but children are not learning enough in schools to make them leaders in the next generation of employment. I look at whether schools need to be pushing students harder in terms of their technical skills especially when it comes to computer science.
Can 3D printers make a difference in the classroom?
Education Secretary Michael Gove wants students in schools to get the chance to experiment with 3D printers in order to raise standards in subjects like science, technology and maths. I question whether this will be beneficial or a giant waste of money. They sound brilliant either way and I'd love to see one at work.

Argos' affordable tablet could revolutionise the classroom
Cheap and cheery high street retailer Argos are launching their own brand of tablet that will only cost £99.99. The MyTablet has gone on sale and is likely to lead an all new assault in classrooms on the good old fashioned pen and paper. I love the idea of kids being able to take notes on these kinds of things but I also worry about the decline of good old fashioned hand writing.

 Is The Oculus Rift the future of virtual reality gaming or something more?
The Oculus Rift is a 3D head mounted display that is a huge step forward in the possibilities of virtual reality. But is it just for gamers or are the possibilities of this new technology endless?
 Any of these articles take your fancy?

Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Hope is stronger than fear

Katniss is back on screens in less than a month in Hunger Games: Catching Fire and a new trailer has been released to finally show us a bit more of the new and improved arena. The trailers so far have been a bit coy with the arena action but this one shows the waves, the wildlife and that central ciscle of water that is where the tributes of the Quarter Quell first find themselves thrust.

President Snow's voice over dominates the soundtrack with Donald Sutherland's sinister, silky tones threatening Katniss with a 'real war'. First she has to make it out of the deadlier arena with its terrifying jungle of clockwork horrors and then we'll see about that real war in the final part of the trilogy which has been split into two parts. Mockingjay parts 1 and 2 will see the revolt rising and really catching fire next year.

For now we get to see a whole new band of tributes, Katniss and Peeta struggling with their new found fame and revolution brewing in the districts. President Snow comes up with an ingenious way to get Katniss back in danger, putting her up against ex-winners in what was a jaw-dropping moment in the second book but has now been spoiled by all the trailers for those who didn't read it. So while those who have not read the book will surely be aware by now that Katniss is forced to fight another day in a Hunger Games arena, they will not get the shock of finding out halfway through reading the book that this is Snow's plan.

If you have not heard who Katniss is up against in the latest arena, then try not to read too much of the publicity stuff surrounding the film. Rest assured, the competition is fiercer and more frightening than last time around and Katniss (and Peeta) are really going to have their work cut out in order to survive.

Check out the trailer:

And here's a longer look:

Excited yet?

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Ender's Game Review

I wonder if Ender's Game is what George Melies imagined science fiction cinema would become one day in the future. Hugo's George Melies Sir Ben Kinglsey reunites with Hugo himself Asa Butterfield in this frequently spectacular voyage into space that sees a young boy trained for command in a war against a deadly alien race.

It is light years ahead of Melies stop/start special effects and contains contemporary relevance that has clearly not been lost even though the book it is adapted from is nearly 30 years old. After Earth is attacked by a huge swarm of aliens, the population of the planet is decimated then swiftly saved by the sacrifice of one great warrior. Humans, including Harrison Ford's gruff Colonel Graff, are not about to let another massacre occur again should the 'evil' alien race return and so for some dubious and far too quickly explained reason, have decided to train children into warriors to tackle the threat.

It seems an implausible set up and the future Earth is brusquely brushed over in order to get the action into space. Ender Wiggin (Butterfield) is a bullied kid who beats the crap out of another kid to ensure the bully never picks on him again. That's all it takes for Harrison Ford to think Ender is the next John Connor, great military leader and saviour of the planet. So off to space they go for a film about training kids in future space warfare and zero gravity shoot outs.

Ender quickly rises in the ranks and becomes a commander of the other kids in their space training facility. He forms some bonds, particularly with Hailee Steinfeld's Petra and also makes a few enemies. All the while Harrison Ford and Viola Davis (as some kind of psychologist) battle for Ender's soul, Ford wanting him to become a heartless killer and Davis concerned that Ender will be pushed too far.

The training scenes zip along but amount to little and it is never really clear why Ender is the chosen one. What makes Ender's Game a must see for gung-ho let's go to war and nuke the bastards types is the bleak message it pounces on the audience at the end. The politics of heroics are replaced by sacrifice, shame and genocide as Ender learns the true cost of war. However, then the producers and writer/director Gavin Hood clearly get a bit nervous about such a downbeat ending so they attach a pointless grab for a more hopeful sequel.

Nevertheless Ender's Game makes up for an occasionally clunky script with some impressive spectacle and weighty themes that lift it slightly above the average soulless science fiction extravaganza.

Check out my videos from the Ender's Game Q&A in London:

More on Ender's Game:

Ender's Game Q and A with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Hailee SteinFeld and Gavin Hood

More reviews at I Love That Film:

Sunshine on Leith Review

How I Live Now


The Call


The Lone Ranger

You're Next

We're the Millers

2 Guns

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fast and Furious 7, fighting and Tony Jaa

With 9 months still to wait until the world gets the next Fast and Furious movie, it is amazing how many 'news' stories there are to pick up for those interested. No matter what you think of the films, you have to hand it to Vin Diesel, he knows how to interact with fans and keep them excited for his upcoming projects. Not only is he still busy releasing stills and videos from the set, he's now even looking ahead at his role in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. Here are the news stories I've been writing for Yahoo on Fast and Furious 7 recently:

Filled with speculation, this is me taking a guess at what Tony Jaa will be doing in the upcoming film. He  might be having a ball on the 'Fast and Furious 7' set, hanging out with all the stars but all the evidence so far suggests to me that he will be taking a villainous role.

Another example of Diesel keeping his fans in the loop, he has unveiled a short video from the set of Fast & Furious 7 to celebrate his Facebook page reaching the 50 million fan mark. It features some sweet moves from Jaa and Diesel desperately trying to keep up with the martial artist.

Rumours that MMA star Ronda Rousey would be appearing in 'Fast and Furious 7' have been doing the rounds for ages but Rousey has now officially confirmed she will be appearing in the sequel. Let's hope she kicks even more ass than Gina Carano in the last film.

Just in case all this interaction between the stars and fans is not enough, games developer Kabam have announced that 'Fast and Furious 7' will not only be a hotly anticipated film but also a game for fans to play on their mobiles everywhere. Get behind the wheel and pretend you are the star of the movie!

'Fast and Furious 7' will be many things to many expectant fans but right now it is an economic juggernaut for the city of Salida in Colorado. I found this fascinating how much a film can help the locals. Hooray for Hollywood film productions!

Any of these news stories tickle your fancy or are you just bored sick of hearing about Fast and Furious 7 already?

Walking Dead Vs new virus and Homeland Vs Muslims

I have been busy writing for Yahoo about two of the best shows on TV at the moment; The Walking Dead and Homeland. This time I've been writing about a fan convention, a review of the first episode of season 3 of TWD and the representation of Muslims in Homeland. Please check out the articles by clicking the titles.

A new convention started by fans of 'The Walking Dead' will take place in early November in Atlanta and is expected to draw crowds of over 10,000 zombie fans. I tried to convince Yahoo to pay for me to attend but unfortunately (and understandably) they are not willing to fly me over to Atlanta to join a bunch of zombie fans for this event! Still it looks very cool though...

After a blistering third season, 'The Walking Dead' returned with a somewhat calm first episode showing relative peace for the survivors at the prison. However seeds of disruption have already been planted in and outside the prison fences. This is my review of the first episode which aired in the UK on Friday.

Homeland has been criticised in previous seasons for exploiting anti-Muslim stereotypes. In this article I explore if things are changing in the new episodes of season 3. I'm keeping an eye on the comments of this one as controversial topics like this often bring up some good debate.

Homeland is approaching its forth episode of the third season in the UK and after the episode aired in the US, the showrunner has been speaking about the criticisms that some have been levelling at the third season so far. It can't be hurting too badly as the news has just broken that Homeland will indeed get a fourth season, whether fans think that is a good idea or not. My big question is will Brody make it through to the next season?

More from I Love That Film: