My review of Lucy didn’t contain my link to my tweetnotes on Under The Skin, so I’m embedding them here:


Well, in short, I really enjoyed it and enjoyed it more than Batman Begins.

Arriving at the Imax was interesting. We were due to collect tickets and there was a queue in front of us and the guy at the ticket desk, with surprising patience just kept reiterating: “No there are no tickets left for today. No, nothing for the next three weeks except midnight showings. Sorry.” with occasionally interspersed, “No madam, we’re not showing anything else, we only have one screen.” Now, I could here this spiel from way back in the queue, so surely the people in front of us could too? Or they could read it from the screens? Or the signs that said “Sold out”? Wierd. It’s as if people just didn’t want to believe it was true. There was even one couple who exclaimed “But we’ve come all the way into London for this!” as if this would somehow sway the man.

When we got to the lobby, we were thrilled to see some people had dressed up, which was cool. There was a real buzz going around.

It turns out I was wrong. I’d read that certain scenes had been shot with Imax cameras and assumed that meant 3d. This was incorrect, it was all 2d, but the actions scenes were shot with cameras that did justice to the absolutely massive screen of the Imax. It was huge! Very immersive experience. Shooting this way and seeing action blockbusters in the Imax is totally the future. Especially as at £12 a ticket, the people there really, really want to see it, so aren’t likely to mess about!

Now to the movie itself. I’ll break it down by not completely logical sub-segments and in no particular order:
Jim Gordon: I’m buying the character more, he’s real. Though it’s been a mere year since he was an LT? And now commish? That was a bit fast.
Lucius Fox: I like him, but I’m still not buying him as CEO of the most powerful company in the world. Though I did like “Let me get this straight: You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who beats criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck. ”
Rachel Dawes: Should have been played by Maggie in the first movie too, shame she’s gone, but she really had to die.
Gadgets: Way too much.
Detective work: Glad to see it there, but in terms of overall narative, when did Wayne become a forensics expert? Night school?
Batman: “I have a really gruff voice and I’m at the mercy of gadgets and other people’s actions!”
Wayne: I’m glad there was more Bruce this time around and it worked well.
Dent: Very, very good performance, though we thought they really pushed the whiter than white bit way too far, over-labouring the point. Also, didn’t like the scarred face prosthetics too much. Other than that, really liked the descent, particularly Penny who didn’t know Dent=Twoface. Question: Dead or alive?
Joker: Yes. Totally yes. Not only did I by the performance, I particularly liked the fact that at the beginning he’s a genius psychopath and by the end comes across sometimes shockingly sane and entirely spontaneous. I loved the character and I hope not just because the actor died. Such a shame he won’t be around for sequels.
Scarecrow: Brief, pointless and a phoned in performance from Murphy.
Sonar: Really? Every phone is sonar? Woo, a city full of bat phones. But then destroys it? Eh? Come on!
Ending: Good, glad they made him the Dark Knight instead of Hero in Black. Reminds me of a line in Shaft “I heard you quit the force!” “Do you think that makes me less dangerous, or more dangerous?”

Overall, a massively great film with some flaws, but toally worth seeing. In terms of heart vs head, I felt more drawn through the rollercoaster of Wanted than DK, but DK hangs together narratively much better and is less adolescent power fantasy. I would almost go as far as saying that overall DK has left the confines of the comic book movie, gone beyond it and used broader narrative traditions.

Now that the blog is finally online again, I can start talking about Wanted, the film loosely based on Mark Millar’s 2003 comic and directed by Timur “Nightwatch” Bekmambetov. The movie is high-octane action that sucks you in, spins you around, tells you a cracking tale and spits you out at the end well satisfied. There is enough of Bekmambetov’s weirdness, nods towards Fight Club and Nightwatch, sheer exuberance and good acting to make this better than merely the good but brainless action movie the trailer implied.

I rate it: Must watch and will buy

Okay, let me get the negatives out of the way. Harrison is ooollld. The antagonists are a bit paper-thin. The MacGuffin is pretty shallow, even for an Indy movie. Ray Winstone’s character was pretty much redundant. The finale was a bit weak.

Right, now that that’s done, I really enjoyed the newest Indy film. All criticisms aside, it was still an Indy film, including all the ridiculousness and the film was in keeping with the heritage of the genre, which sits with adventure movies from the 40s and 50s. Is this movie going to convince Indyphiles? No. Is it as good as the Last Crusade? No. But it was good.

Rated a Must See for Indy fans

So we saw Iron Man at the weekend, a nice gentle end to the stag weekend in Bristol before we all had to go on our journeys. I’ll get straight to the point: Despite my initial reservations (It’s Marvel) I really enjoyed it and rate it… Must watch.

It was funny, it worked visually and musically and Robert Downey Jr. pulled it off marvellously. Marvel must be pleased with their first release where they’ve had full creative rights throughout the process and have already signed up all the cast for two sequels with the next one slated for 2010. Stark will also make a brief appearance in The Incredible Hulk.

I originally thought that Marvel would end up shooting Ultimate Iron Man, after all, one reboot should lead into another. Oh no. I read through a copy of UIM in Waterstones on Sunday and it is god-awful. No, instead large reams of plotting are sourced from Warren Ellis’ reboot, Iron Man: Extremis which actually looks quite good.

Slowly but steadily I’m discovering the occasional thoroughbred in Marvels stable, which I still believe mostly consists of nags.

Movies

There haven’t been too many movies I’ve got to see recently, but I did get to see The Orphanage in the cinema. This is a Spanish language haunted house tale “presented” by Guillermo “Pan’s Labyrinth” del Toro. Overall it was quite good, though they did over-use the old trick of loud noise to make you jump at the creepy bits. I don’t think it needed it and overall would have been better as a chiller with some creepy overtones rather than using the “BANG! Made you jump!” technique. Also, the last two minutes were entirely redundant, but other than that it was quite a good movie. I rate it… Must Rent.

I also finally caught the modern remake of 3:10 to Yuma on BluRay rental, because I like westerns and I like Christian Bale. Hmm… The score was good, the visuals looked lovely in HD BluRay glory and the score was good and well used. Unfortunately I haven’t seen the 50’s original to compare, but the story was really weak. It started off okay, but veered a little around the middle and by the end had unravelled entirely to the point that my suspension of disbelief had, itself, been completely suspended. I rate it… Avoid.
I knew I should have gone with The Assassination of Jesse James etc.

TV

Yeah, not too much here either. The new season of Heroes hasn’t really blown me away yet neither has Doctor Who. I’ve been watched Season 1 of House which started well. The fact that this is a blatant medical Sherlock Holmes (Homes? House? You see what they did… Oh never mind) crossed with CSI quite appeals to me, as does Hugh Laurie’s misanthropic titular character. But it’s becoming pretty damn samey, pretty damn fast. I’ve been assured that more character development and variation is coming, but I’m losing faith fast.

Books

I’ve been working my way through the recent trend of supernatural pulp detective novels, the most famous of which is the mildly entertaining Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher which was made into an utterly rubbish TV show. The books are fun, but are being bogged down by their own mythology by now. Then I moved onto the Rachel Morgan series, when I read Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking, which was blatantly the Dresden Files, by a female author, with a female protagonist for a female audience. Half of it read like a the relationship self-help sections of women’s magazines. I didn’t bother picking up the rest of the series. But now I’ve moved onto Mike “Hellblazer” Carey’s Felix Castor series, beginning with The Devil You Know. I realise I may be a little biased towards the writer I already know I like, but I would say that Carey’s books are my favourite of this genre. I’ll hopefully be picking up the second book in the series today.

Graphic Novels

Not much for a while, but I read Warren Ellis’ Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E and laughed like a drain and I don’t even know what that means! Penny’s usually not much into Ellis, but she read the whole thing, frequently muttering “That’s just wrong!” and then carrying on reading.

Music

Well, due to my current client, I’m exposed to a lot more music these days, but not all of it is new. I’ve been listening to We Are Scientists, The Hives, The Datsuns and, for a complete change of style, Remi Nicole. And I wasn’t too impressed with Portishead’s first single off the new album, finding it too industrial for my tastes.

Games

Most of my gaming right now is on the PSP. I played God of War and enjoyed it immensely! For six hours. Let me reiterate that, to make it quite clear: This £25 game entertained me for a mere six hours! Once, I take off the trade-in value, that means I paid £2.30 per hour of entertainment.
On the other hand, I’m still playing Final Fantasy Tactics and according to my save game file, I’ve played it for 30 hours so far…
As for the PS3, Gran Tourismo 5 Prologue is beautiful, cheap and fun. It is worth your money and is very friendly to casual play.

Last year I promised myself that I’d watch more movies in the cinema than . Well, I’ve certainly managed that, and there’s still more year, and movies to come. So here the movies of this year so far, in approximate reverse order of enjoyment.

9) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

8) Spiderman 3

7) Atonement

6) 300

5) Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End

4) Stardust

3) In Pursuit of Happyness (sic)

2) 28 Weeks Later

1) Hot Fuzz

Obviously I reserve the right to change the order in January once I’ve had a chance to mull it all over. Amusingly, the above list is almost exactly upside down when compared to the cinema earnings chart for this year.

Movies I still want to see this year:

Beowulf – Ideally in the Imax

Grindhouse – If I can see the whole thing together, not the separate parts

Bladerunner: The Final Cut – I’ve always wanted to see this in the cinema

Other movies I’ve seen that stand out in my mind:

Brick – This movie is actually two years old,but I first saw it this year. It is really excellent and I’d probably say it’s my favourite film I’ve seen this year.

Good night and good luck – Another late viewing but another excellent film. George Clooney directs this B&W movie about Ed Murrow, McCarthyism and the degeneration of television.

Silent Hill – This one surprised me since this horror film is based on a game, but I actually enjoyed this.

Sunshine – This one stands out because I really wanted to see it, but it certainly isn’t very good at all. Boyle’s sci-fi flick never quite decides what kind of film it wants to be.

Update: Forgot Pirates 3!

I had my scepticism about , the sequel to ‘s excellent , especially as it seemed to be an over-the-top, Americanised sequel to an excellent, low budget British horror movie. However, Spanish-born did an okay job at the end of it. While definitely different in mood, this is very much to Aliens as 28 Days is to Alien. A different feel but definitely solid continuation of what went before. I think a lot of the feel of the sequel came from the soundtrack by and the re-scored version of that gave the original such moody weight.

Set-wise, they obviously tried to capture that eerie feeling of seeing a deserted London, but on a wider scale. Largely they managed it, though sometimes it did seem a bit forced. Crucially, as in the first film, much of the horror was not in what the not-zombies did, but what people are willing to do to each other.

To sum up, an enjoyable film, though this may be partly due to my low expectations. But I’d rate it above both Spidey 3 and 300 for this year’s cinema releases.

Edit: Before I forget, I also read through the graphic novel ’28 Days Later: The Aftermath’ which is supposed to fill in the gaps between the two films. Short summary: All filler, no killer. The writing is jarring, being split into four interwoven, but separate stories, and the art is uninspiring.