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Month: August 2013

[Movie Review] Hot Fuzz

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Hot Fuzz directed by Edgar Wright and staring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is the second flavor in the cornetto trilogy. The first being Shaun of the Dead and the last being the soon to be arriving The World’s End. Each movie is it’s own genre. Shaun is horror. Hot Fuzz is action. The World’s End is alien/robot invasion.
Simon Pegg plays Nicholas Angel, a police officer in the London that is constantly working much to dismay of his soon to be ex-girlfriend played by an uncredited Cate Blanchett even after getting stabbed through the hand by a drunk Father Christmas played by an uncredited Peter Jackson.
His bosses played by Martin Freeman, Bill Nighly and an uncredited Steve Coogan aren’t to happy with him either and decide to send him off to the county town of Sandford for a little rest. The editing of all of these events from Nicholas’s introduction via voice over to the arrival at Sanford are slick and everything introduced in the first twenty minutes is used through out the movie.
The villagers of Sandford are well meaning folks. Played by several UK actors like Timothy Dalton, Olivia Coleman, Paddy Considine, Paul Freeman and many more. Timothy Dalton being the only one that is relishing his role at eating scenery. Nicholas attempts to settle down and unwind aren’t helped by Nick Frost’s Danny Butterman because of Danny’s awe, general fanboy of Nicholas’s deeds and being a giant action movie junkie. His DVD wall reminds me of my wall before I sold them.
But there are things afoot in Sandford. People are dying via horrible accidents and it takes Nicholas the rest of Act 2 to piece everything together by researching his hypothesis and putting the puzzle pieces together until he confronts the problem and like one of Danny’s Hollywood heroes roars into a third act with guns blazing. The movie’s plotting as a whole feels refreshing and expects the audience to keep up as it takes itself seriously.
Well almost seriously since the movie goes from being a Masterpiece Theater Mystery to a Michael Bay shoot’em up in the last twenty minutes. Thankfully the action pieces have been kept to a minimum throughout so the car chases or gunfights are not boring. Many of Danny’s outlandish questions regarding Nicholas’s work are immediately squashed since police work like flying an airplane: it’s very very very boring. His character and Sandra Bullock’s character from Demolition Man are essentially the same but with a sex change.
Having said all that it should then come to no surprise as the last act everything is an homage to action movies. This isn’t a bad thing since Edgar Wright knows his audience and knows we aren’t idiots. This was filmed for the Die Hard/Lethal Weapon/geek crowd and it does not disappoint from the gun fights to car chases to explosive fourth act reveal it’s a fun movie.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a sequel to this either set it in the USA ala Red Dawn/any other movie dealing with the fish out of water-trope so long as they saddle Nicholas with a woman partner.

[Movie Review] Shaun of the Dead

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Released in 2004, Shaun of the Dead was directed by Edgar Wright and starred Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and a whole lotta zombies.
Filmed three years after Wright’s TV show Spaced. Shaun, played by Simon Pegg is not yet your typical man child. His life at sales person at the electronic store is dull. His relationship with his roommate, Darth Maul, er, Pete played by Peter Serafinowicz is on par with his step dad, Phillip played by Bil Nighy is rocky to say the least while the few bright spots being his girlfriend Liz played by Kate Ashfield, playing video games with his best friend Ed played by Nick Frost and going to the pub.
Unfortunately, Kate and her friends, Dianne and David played by Lucy Davis and Dylan Moran feel Shaun needs to expand his horizons since they are always going to the pub. She wants to go out to nice restaurants and get out and see the world and breaks up with Shaun.
This sends his small world into a tailspin. Meanwhile in the background through out the first act things are starting to stand out like the Omega 6 space probe that broke up over England. The bodies collapsing at the bus stop. The military vehicles driving around in packs and quite possibly the vagrant eating a live pigeon.
A new day dawns only to find Shaun’s world has been spun even more with the rise of Zombies. If the news is reporting it must be true, right? The lovely tracking shot to and from Shaun’s house pre and post zombie invasion serves it’s purpose for the before and after. The encounters being small as Shaun and Ed find they cannot stay in their home or bring people back and after several What If montages they cement a plan into place to track down Kate & Co, get to his mother’s to pick up his step dad and hole up in the bar until the bitter end.
The plans as always do not go as planned thanks muchly to Ed’s wants and needs from driving several fancy cars, running several zombies over and ignoring the fact the world is ending. Ed doesn’t have much of an arc except to be the comic relief while Shaun does grow up by burying the hatchet with his step dad.
Throughout the movie between the slick editing, long camera shots and whip snap dialogue there are nods and homages to zombies movies. The movie manages to cover new ground while keeping itself firmly within the standard zombie movie framework with the Winchester Pub being the bunker/house/mall that will hold up for only so long while the characters erode under the pressure of the apocalypse outside.
The SFX throughout are well done. The blood and guts are mostly for show until the finale when several characters are either turned into zombies or torn apart by the horde. For the purists the zombies are the shambling kind and do not race like 28 Days Later.
This is the first movie in Wright’s unofficial cornetto trilogy and is well worth spending money on via iTunes/Amazon if you have seen it.
I highly recommend a double shot of Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland since both movies are well made and thought out even if Zombieland’s third act falls apart.

[Movie Review] Grabbers

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Go see Grabbers.
If you liked Tremors then go see Grabbers.
If you looking for a movie that is funny, enjoyable and has a horrendously cute villains then go see Grabbers.
Grabbers is a dramedy/horror themed-movie directed by John Wright and written by Kevin Lehane. I mentioned a few lines above an homage to Tremors and manages to get Predator/Carpenter’s The Thing/The Fog, Jaws and a few other homages in there as well.
The movie starts of ominously enough with a fishing trawler off the coast of an Irish isle town. The crew witnesses a meteorite crashing into the ocean but before they investigate further they are quickly dispatch by something we cannot and won’t see for half the movie. This is not necessarily a bad thing since many time creatures are best shown in their full glory until the final reel of the movie.
Morning arrives on this quint Irish island town and our protagonists are introduced, the first being by the book police officer Lisa Nolan played by Ruth Bradley and fellow police officer/town drunk Ciarán O’Shea played by Richard Coyle. Both are polar opposites but neither are a-typical archetypes either as the film progresses. After several introductions to the supporting cast it turns out Lisa has taken her vacation by filling in for one of the other cops.
Unfortunately, Lisa is not the only new arrival at the island. The creatures from the meteorite begin to infest the town and bit by bit their biology is introduced. I mentioned Tremors before and Lehane manages to get the entire Tremor biology that took four movies into one which is a great to see because when was the last time you saw an octopus type monster with a mouth full of teeth surrounded by eye balls get sick over trying to suck the blood out of a person with a .20 on the breathalyzer test.
The creatures are dubbed Grabbers and it turns out they need blood and water to survive but they can’t stand drunks. So what does the town do?
They hold a lock in and get the entire small town sloshed while the eggs hatch and these cute little octopi start migrating across town looking for victims. The CGI/practical effects are well done even if a few of the night shots here and there are little too dark not because it’s hiding a multitude of CGI sins just it’s too dark to enjoy the giant octopi Grabber as he rolls after our heroes.
Yep, he and she Grabbers. Hatched from eggs. And they’re smart. They actually set traps to lure their prey out into the open.
I should make mention that body count in the movie is low so if you’re expecting hack-a-thon you’re going to be slightly disappointed. Instead the body count is kept low as the ground rules of the Grabbers are established. A scene of trying to light one on fire does not turn out well since they need water to live and guess what happens when you light a fire inside a building? The fire sprinklers.
I’m happy not everyone is painted with a red shirt so sometimes the heroes are beaten up while sometimes the secondary characters are dispatched. Many times you know the red shits but Grabbers kept it believable. I half expected a different ending for Adam Smith played by Russell Tovey. His Grabber encounter turned into a Amblin shout out but I would have thought he was fine. But alas no such luck and no Marvel-esque final credit scene.
According to IMDB this was filmed during one of the coldest winters on record for Ireland but it doesn’t look freezing the Director of Photographer really shot a wonderful looking movie from the craggy caves where the Grabbers are holed up to the morning ocean shots that are reminiscent of Jaws. It had a good soundtrack too and the budding romance between the two main characters was not shoved down our throats.
So if you’re tired of hearing about Sharknado then check out Grabbers. It may be available a local movie theater or download via Amazon/iTunes.

[Movie Review] Europa Report

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One of the better panels at San Diego Comic Con is the science fiction that will change your life panel. It’s a panel of authors and creators that talk about science fiction films/television/books that really stood out over the last year.
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Europa Report and Upstream Color was two movies that came up during the panel. Having seen Upstream Color (review forthcoming) already and enjoying the trailer of Europa Report I ordered it.
Europa? The same Jupiter Moon from 2010?
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Yep. The same moon. And the same outcome. Sorta.
I’m going to rattle off some movies regarding space travel: Red Planet. Event Horizon. Armageddon. Deep Impact. Mission to Mars. Sunshine. Alien. 2001. 2010. Moon. Europa Report.
I’ve left out anything with Star in it for a reason.
Europa Report like Moon and 2001/2010 takes itself seriously. The realistic look at space travel in our solar system. There is no inertial dampeners. No gravity generators. The rotating ring to create a gravity: yep. The time lag between Earth and the capsule: yep. The bulky spacesuits. The stations at different angles.
Europa Report is a found footage science fiction movie directed by Sebastián Cordero that details the space flight from Earth to Europa to gather evidence from the ice moon. The mission is manned by several smarter scientists than those found in Prometheus. The movie does what Danny Boyle’s Sunshine didn’t and gives us an enjoyable movie that is believable and while the time jumps can get a little annoying sometimes the movie as a whole works.
There are no aliens per se, no scheming beaucrats looking for the next big discovery. It a group of scientists on an expedition that goes from excitement to sullen to happy to doomed as one by one each of them are dispatched by what is on Europa.
Among the scientists, Sharlto Copley and Michael Nyqvist’s characters stood out the most since they have arcs and a bit more back story than the others. The rest of the scientists played by Anamaria Marinca, Christian Camargo, Karolina Wydra and Daniel Wu are there but nothing about their backstories and character’s occupation is revealed and that doesn’t make them exactly redshirts. But it’s damn close. I’m glad a romantic angle was shoved down our throats but on the other side of that if you’ve got four men and two women in the same confined place for two months? At least show wives and girlfriends.
There’s a part of me that wishes this had been framed like Mission to Mars, Sunshine or even Apollo 13. The found footage can only take you so far, the whole talking head to the camera has gotten stale.
If you’re tired of aliens blowing up cities then Europa Report will be a welcome breath of fresh air.

[#doctorwho] The rise of the twelfth will be televised.

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On the fields of Trenzalore, at the fall of the eleventh, when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer, a Question will be asked. A question that must never, ever be answered. The Question is just “Doctor Who?”
So the big news of the weekend is BBC and BBC America will be doing a live show to announce the actor playing the twelfth Doctor. At 2pm ET we will know who takes over Matt Smith’s shoes!
My mother is happier than the rest of you, trust me.
Everyone else remember four years ago when we just got a picture? Like this one?
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Don’t get me wrong I love the fact that BBC/BBC America’s advertising machine has gotten up the speed. I’m wondering if we’re reaching Apple Keynote levels of hysteria. Or is Hall H without the lines?
It should come as no surprise the Doctor has a randomizer, er, reality distortion field.
The Time Lord’s golden handcuffs are tighter than most, I fear. Having nothing to do with the actor/actress but more to do with the writers and the fact this is still considered a children’s show.
When this new season, the new Doctor and the writing staff debut I’m going to give them a chance but if this next season turns out like last season then we got problems.
Having seen Matt Smith twice during The Nerdist’s SDCC Podcast he seemed to have his feet on the ground.
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He was the nicest to people from recording someone’s marriage proposal to donating to a fan who had had her wallet and bags stolen.
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As Smith’s era comes to a close I think his seasons flowed better than the end of Tennant’s even if I liked Tennant’s portrayal more than Smith’s. Tennant’s truncated final season was okay with the season finale making up for it. It’s a pity his era didn’t get the advertising push Smith’s is receiving right now.
Here’s hoping the next regeneration goes smoother than fan reaction when the 50th Anniversary Trailer was not released after SDCC.