Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trailer Trawl Vol 3

Article by Disgruntled Monkey

Last week some pretty awesome trailers have been released for some movies that i'm really looking forward to. It's always nice to watch a trailer that gets you amped for something that you're looking forward to. We are certainly entering into the yearly blockbuster phase.

Pacific Rim:

Monsters vs Giant Robots, how can you not be excited for this? Thankfully the Wondercon Trailer was actually released online and we get to see some new footage. Idris Elba is still the man, but Charlie Day is featured in full manic scientist mode which is also pretty great.

Fast & Furious 6:

I love this series and in my mind it does one of the rarest of feats and manages to get better with every installment. Sure it's dumb as hell but there's something about the cast and the cars that really hooks me. Full disclosure, I know nothing about cars and have no real interest in them in real life.

Red 2:

While I won't say I was completely blown away by the first movie, I did have a fun time. The sequel is looking pretty funny with the bonus of having a bigger budget behind it. Plus Bruce Willis seems a lot more animated than some of the other movies he's done recently and any movie that lets John Malkovich revel in insanity is always a good thing.

Man of Steel:

The first few trailers didn't really grab me, in fact I wrote a rant/article about the first one which you can find here. However the third trailer has finally hooked me. Maybe it was the Russell Crowe narration at the beginning, maybe the fact they show more action, but I think in the end having Michael Shannon in complete insane mode as General Zod is what pushed it over the line for me.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 10 Shows I Watched as a Kid.


Article by Disgruntled Monkey

Malcontented Moose stumbled on an idea that I found I really needed to do. Delving into the shows I watched as a kid, reviewing them and probably explaining a lot about myself to you, the readers. Possibly a little too much explaining. So sit back, enjoy and if you haven’t already go back and read Malcontented Moose’s top ten here.

10: Unsolved Mysteries (1987 -2002)

Let’s start off with a show that wasn’t really meant for children but I have a lot of fond memories of. I can remember watching it in the living room while my Dad read a book and mum was in the kitchen making dinner. Sure it scared me, but I was also fascinated by it. Robert Stack’s voice was a constant source of calm even when detailing some of the more disturbing elements. This was pretty much one of the foundations of my love of horror/thrillers.

09: Teknoman (1995)

Stepping into my early teens I discovered this awesome little anime series. Animation isn’t really the series’ strong suit, like many shows of the era it reused frames of animation for extension and filler. Yet there was something about the characters and the epic family story at its heart that really connected with me. Blade is a man suffering from amnesia, has the ability to turn into a robotic being and also harbours a burning hatred for alien monsters intent on over taking the Earth. As the series progressed we grew to know Blade and the people that gradually became his friends.

08: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 – 1996)

Just by going through some of my old toys it’s plain to see that the Turtles animated series really grabbed my attention. While it was an excellent marketing scheme towards kids, there was also just something fun about the series as a whole. Honestly I think this was the first nerd obsession I had. Even now when I see the TMNT toys or show I stop and take a look - if only for nostalgia. Now that I’m older I have gone back to read the original comics and find I am really digging those.

07: Transformers (1984 – 1987)

Speaking of toys and marketing to kids, you cannot pass the Transformers. The reason this series in particular beats out TMNT is because I never cried during TMNT. Yes, I am one of the many children who shed a tear when Optimus Prime died heroically defeating Megatron. Also the idea of these robots being able to disguise themselves as anything was particularly appealing. This show along with TMNT really got me thinking about characters being able to be other than human and this fascination with ‘The Other’ has carried through my life.

06: The Simpsons (1989 – Current)

The Simpsons is a show that really has formed some sort of pop cultural awareness in me. For a long time quoting The Simpsons was a way for me to communicate with friends. While my love of The Simpsons has waned over time, I can’t forget how formative it was in making me the person I am today. I find it funny how at the time parents were so worried that The Simpsons would warp children into doing horrible things, when I can say from my perspective it effectively taught me what not to do.


05: Batman – The Animated Series (1992 – 1995)

This little programme showed me that comic books and comic shows can have a lot of artistic merit. Episodes like Mad Love have excellent writing, backing it up with some fine animation that truly deserved the awards it got. I wouldn’t be the comic book reader I am today without this show. It’s so good that it still holds up today.

04: Astroboy (1980 – 1981)

Such a dark little show for children, I can remember watching it numerous times as a kid and feeling genuinely sad. There was still a lot to like and cheer for in the show but it understood that by getting dark, it makes the brighter moments that much more arresting. Astroboy definitely refined my sensibilities, especially when it came to my fictional writing. Only in the darkness can the light truly be appreciated.

03: The Goodies (1970 – 1981)

The Goodies to me was almost a gateway show to Monty Python. British comedy really appealed to me as a young kid and today I can still be a little random, much to the confusion of friends and family. The Goodies represented people that I looked up to and in some regards hoped to emulate someday, whether it be through Bill’s chaotic, fun loving nature, Graham’s scientific mind or Timothy’s dedication to an ideal. It also helped they were willing to just go with silly ideas, like a tomato soup that caused people to change into clowns. Weird, chaotic, fun and beating with a massive heart.

02: Doctor Who (1963 – 1989)

I’m much more of a fan of the old series than I am the new one, thought I still enjoy the new Who. For me though my favourite Doctor was the seventh (Sylvestor McCoy) closely followed by the fourth Doctor (Tom Baker). The cheesy special effects, the wonderful hammy performances and the sheer imagination interwoven into each episode all really spoke to me. Doctor Who touched upon elements of horror, sci-fi and fantasy, all wrapped up into an epic feel. It became a tradition that I watch a Doctor Who episode when I got home after school.

01: Count Duckula (1988 – 1993)

An obsession with vampires was born from this series. As a kid I loved the humour that was born from having a vegetarian vampire, so much so that I had to go back and see what vampires were all about. Maybe not the best thing for a kid to get obsessed about but I was hooked and was willingly thrown down the rabbit hole. Truly this series was the biggest influence on me of all.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Dead Space Downfall (2008)


Review by Disgruntled Monkey


Director: Chuck Patton
Starring: Nika Futterman, Keith Szarabajka and Jim Cummings
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Dead Space is a video game whose atmosphere, setting and plot are things I truly love, yet I’ve never finished it. Upon finding this prequel I was hoping to get a complete story while avoiding the gaming aspect. Certainly, video game movies have a long, horrid history but surely in animated form this movie could overcome many of the challenges that live action video game movie adaptations have. Right?

At first things seemed fine. Not great but fine. The animation style reminded me a little of the Aeon Flux series and the voice acting was adequate enough. However as the movie progressed things started becoming a little unhinged and by the end I was shaking my head at the absolute horridness of this film. So where did it all go wrong?

First, while the animation style was okay, it was definitely done on the cheap. You have a number of repeated sequences as well as a jerky style that felt like someone had misplaced some of the animation cells. I have watched cheap animation before and was still been able to enjoy it - mainly thanks to the strength of the story telling - unfortunately the story here is riddled with clichés and characters you just can’t bring yourself to care about. What’s more, a goodly percentage of the characters just do some of the stupidest stuff imaginable. At one point in the movie a character starts to talk about his history out of nowhere, after which he then sacrifices himself. Sorry movie, I’m not going to care about a character that you’ve only just now decided to characterise so I can feel some emotion at his demise.

So, knowing it has a weak story and animation, the movie falls upon the time honoured tradition of filling everything else up with gore. The problem now is too much animated gore and as such has no real impact at all. By the end there was so much blood I was laughing. Dead Space had gore but it was all wrapped up in a claustrophobic and dark atmosphere. This movie is way too bright to pull off the same thing.

Behold the terror of animated dead corpse monsters.
The final nail in this film’s coffin is the creature design. While they’ve stayed true to the game creature look, animation does not do these monsters justice. The movie is too bright and the creatures look as if they belong in a Looney Tunes short. Yet again I was laughing and I’m sure that’s not what the creatures were supposed to invoke.

If this was a game the story might pass muster but overall this is a completely mismanaged movie. Dead Space Downfall comes across as a rushed product merely trying to cash in on a well-known brand. Honestly, just avoid this one; it really has nothing going for it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Paranormal Activity 4 (2012)


Review by Disgruntled Monkey


Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Starring: Stephen Dunham, Katie Featherston and Matt Shively
Writers: Christopher Landon and Chad Feehan

Paranormal Activity 4 is probably one of the biggest disappointments in a long time. For me, the Paranormal Activity series just kept on improving. The third movie nicely wrapped things up and yet there was a great potential for any further films. Number four, however, comes along and just continues doing the same old thing. Worse, this movie actually seems to take multiple steps backwards in quality and story.

The real head scratching thing is that directors Joost and Schulman previously made the third and, in my opinion, best of the series. Multiple factors seemed to combine to make this new iteration a bad movie but I just don’t understand how the same authors can create both the best and worst films in a series.

My biggest problem is that this movie focuses on a new family and the story that has been built up over the last three movies is moved into the background. Complexity is thrown into the script without any real need, there seems to be twists just for the sake of twists and even then, these haphazard plot devices are telegraphed to a point where there is no possibility of surprise. Added to this are characters that we now need to get to know - yet have no endearing qualities - and all that’s left are the scares.

This then leads to the next problem. As the audience you’ve seen all this before and with this series the found footage has really run its course. With nothing substantial to grab onto, you really feel the weight of franchise just going through the motions. The one thing I’ll give to Joost and Schulman is that they do come up with an interesting use for an Xbox 360’s Kinect attachment.

Funky Kinecto Vision
This is the first Paranormal Activity where I haven’t really cared for the actors. I can’t say they are horrible, but they seem to be written as if they are the stupidest people around. All the classic horror movie cliché’s are covered. I swear I think I even heard one of the characters say ‘they’ll be right back.’ Katie Featherstone does return and it was nice to see her reprise the role of Katie (unique naming there), but she isn’t in it nearly enough.

At this point in the game I was hoping that Paranormal Activity might ditch some of its found footage origins and try to take the story naturally forward. However by sticking with the found footage the series treads water. I fully understand that this is all about making money but the budget for this film was five million, so I think they had enough to try some different things. I guess at the end of the day I find myself in morning as I think of how this movie signifies the death of the series.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Malcontented Moose's Top 10 Shows I Watched as a Kid.

Article by Malcontented Moose

So, my idea of putting off a real review with my previous top ten has not helped in actually being able to write a decent review on a single topic. Instead I watched some television, baked some cookies, stared at my wall and generally avoided sitting in front of my computer actually writing. I was getting nowhere. So…
Let’s do another top ten! This can only end well!

Standard disclaimer applies.

MONO: DANGER MOUSE

I would like to preface this and all my other options on this list by saying when I was growing up I lived very, very far away from many, many things. This included a decent television signal and as such when I was small we only had three TV channels, those being SBS, BBC/ABC and Northern Rivers. I didn’t begrudge this, as I knew no better; however it is I think something which may help explain why some things do not appear on this list. I probably never saw them.

Anyway, back to Danger Mouse. Oh was this show just fabulous to mine young eyes. Parodying a large portion of Brit spy television programming and popular culture the eponymous Danger Mouse and his Watson-eske sidekick Penfold would zoom throughout London solving crime and averting world catastrophe. With a stirring opening theme song and a well plotted sequence of events easily followed by a young attention span, Danger Mouse was a great little cartoon that used what limited budget it had to great comedic effect. It has since been released on DVD so I certainly know what my next frivolous purchase will be!

NYI: THE TRAPDOOR

“BERK! FEED ME!” I don’t think I have met anyone who doesn’t know what The Trapdoor is. An excellent little between shows filler programme all done in Claymation, The Trapdoor was based around three main characters – namely Berk, Boni and Grutt – who lived below stairs in a castle owned by The Thing Upstairs. Revolving around the unholy monsters that periodically clawed their way up through the trap door, each episode showcased Berks’ desperate attempts to banish the monsters and get his Master fed on time. The animation in the show paired well with the character asides, being very well shot, while also creating an excellent balance between the comedy of the situations Berk would usually find himself in and the gothic horror components of the overall premise. Plus, EVERYONE can sing that theme tune….

= : SAMURAI PIZZA CATS

During my younger years there was a huge increase in the amount of Anime being imported from Japan. Things like Astro Boy, Akira and Battle of the Planets were becoming popular and as such a significant part of the cartoon market began to shift towards Japan. What I know now is that the Samurai Pizza Cats scripts’ were either missing or so poorly translated that completely new dialogue was written for the show when it was licenced for the western market. What I knew then, however, was that this show was freaking hilarious with an exceptional mix of pop culture references and funny dialogue. The feel of the show was very tongue in cheek and self-aware and I can remember pledging the oath at the end of every episode with both a true fervour and sardonic smile, which is a little weird for an 8 year old. The animation is what you would expect looking back at it now, with repetitively used scenes and the always important ‘magical transformation sequence’ in nearly every episode but these are the things that really made this show for me as a kid and I still sit down every now and again to watch it now.

SISAMAT: ROGER RAMJET

Another exceptionally tongue-in-cheek cartoon for this list. Roger Ramjet was originally aired in 1965 but was played on repeat ad-infinitum throughout my childhood. Centring on the antics of Roger Ramjet and his eagle scouts as they combat the forces of evil trying to bring down the United States, the programme managed to convey both a love of home and country as well as a keenly ironic view of said diehard idealism. In the same vein as other inept leader cartoon comedies, Roger is usually helped out of sticky situations via his kid-like sidekicks the Eagle Squadron, or via the use of his Proton Energy Pill. Nothing better than settling in for some cartoon violence right before The Trapdoor used to come on!

ISIHLANU: THE MUPPET BABIES

Now, the reason this is the Muppet Babies instead of The Muppet Show is because I actually never saw The Muppet Show during my childhood. But I loved the Muppet movies and I adored the Muppet Babies. Originating from a short sequence in The Muppets Take Manhattan, the Muppet Babies cartoon was an interesting blend of true 2D cell shaded animation cut with old stock footage photographs and videos and often more recent pop culture films (such as Star Wars and Indiana Jones). This gave the simple storylines of the show a more varied feel as each imagination sequence the babies embarked upon became more immediate to both the characters and the viewer. That is until the immersion was broken by the appearance of Nanny, checking up on the babies. The simple stories were fun to follow and told through the eyes of the Muppets were always interesting to watch again and again.

32: MYSTERIOUS CITIES OF GOLD

For the longest time I couldn’t find anyone who remembered this amazing cartoon. I’m glad the internet is now a thing so I can realise I’m not alone and also THEY RELEASED NEW EPISODES! Ehem. Mysterious Cities of Gold was a French/Japanese co-production about a young boy, Estaban, who travelled to Peru during the Spanish conquest to discover the “cities of gold”. Along the way he is joined by two friends – Zia, an Incan girl and Tao, a boy of uncertain history – who help Estaban while trying to hinder Mendoza from discovering El Dorado – the city of gold. This was a great cartoon as it was sneakily educational and is probably the originating cause for my obsessive love of Incan and Aztec history. The relationship between the main characters is well developed and interesting in that Mendoza is portrayed as having both an over-arching desire for nothing but gold while also holding conflicting feelings towards the main protagonists. I have yet to see the newly released series but hold high hopes it will live up to the excellence of the original.

HÉT: CAPTAIN PLANET

As if anyone missed this one as a kid! Captain Planet, the first avatar (don’t shoot me!) a hero built out of the elements and come forth to save us from ourselves. What’s not to like? The good guys were ok; the bad guys were amazing and…wait…hey! Did you know Tim Curry voiced in this? And oh look! Whoopi Goldberg! Also Jeff Goldblum, Martin Sheen, Mark Hamill….wait Meg Ryan? STING? Really, Sting? Oh man, MALCOLM MCDOWELL. Hang on; I have to go find a box set. Be right back, you guys.


7A: THE SOOTY SHOW

The Sooty Show was another programme I watched on heavy repeat due to the aforementioned lack of television channels available to me as a youngster. This is something I will NEVER regret as The Sooty Show is a beautiful, simple programme that I still love to watch today. Starring the eponymous Sooty – a yellow bear puppet who cannot speak – the show was originally a sketch format with himself, Sweep (a dog who speaks using squeak noises) and Harry, the only human. Later, the rights to the show were bought by Harry’s son Matthew who then continued as the shows human host, turning the programme into a more sitcom based scenario set in a rural house and adding an additional character – Sue, a female panda who could speak. The plot lines are simple and young in nature, often being about getting some flowers for Matthew or cleaning up the house, but I feel this lends itself well to a timeless quality the show seems to have. Indeed the first episodes were broadcast in 1955 and the finale in 1992, a testament to the longevity and simple pleasure of the concept.

IX: THE GOODIES

I’m fairly sure a number of people will be quite shocked to discover that instead of Monty Python’s Flying Circus being on this list I have The Goodies. In all honesty, The Goodies are part of the reason I love Monty Python due to the actors – Graeme Garden, Tim Brooke-Taylor and Bill Oddie – coming from the same bubbling comedy pot (Cambridge, of all places) and also due to the fact that I first grew up on the Python movies, where as I was watching The Goodies television show right off the bat. Less sketch comedy than Flying Circus, The Goodies comedy was much more situational than sketch and I find holds up exceptionally well on repeated viewings. Absurd as their plot lines often were, The Goodies always managed to find the humour in even the most mundane of settings; playing upon the inherent silliness of traditions and assigned gender roles, subverting and subtly ridiculing them. Even as a child I found this fascinating as well as hilarious and as I march on through time their subtle brand of humour continues to grow in my esteem. 


DIEZ: BANANAMAN

Another Goodies project! Ok, ok, originally a comic strip created by John Geering but then turned into a television show using the talents of The Goodies, so there. Another classic from the ABC of my childhood, watched in tandem with Roger Ramjet and The Trapdoor, Bananaman glibly satirises the silver age of comic book superheroes. Based around a young boy, in the comics Eric Wimp but here renamed to Eric Twinge, who upon eating a banana transforms into the adult hero Bananaman. He fights crime with his trusty side kick; Crow – an actual crow – continuously defeating the likes of General Grievous, Doctor Doom and Appleman, an arch nemesis who is rotten to the core. Oh yes, this is that kind of show. Full of clever puns and subtle satire, The Goodies left their mark on Bananaman and a place in my heart.

Yay! Another odd numbered non sequential Top Ten down! Now, I must away to buy all the box sets! *swoops off into the Chromacolour night*

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review: The Bay (2012)


Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Barry Levinson
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Kether Donohue and Will Rogers
Writers: Barry Levinson and Michael Wallach

Environmentalist horror is something you don’t see very often. At its best it can really get under your skin as it’s all too easy to put yourself in the movie’s situation. At its worst it can become over preachy and wreck any atmosphere you are trying to create. Hearing great things about The Bay I was hoping for the latter and thankfully when I sat back to enjoy the movie, it wasn’t long before I began scratching at my arms.

Found footage is a genre trend that’s in desperate need of re-development and with last years Chronicle we kind of saw that. Instead of just one person the film is made up of multiple cameras that can be found within our society (security camera’s, news reports etc). It creates a nice blend and actually allows the found footage genre to evolve a more rounded story. Thankfully The Bay takes this approach and we get to be in the heads of multiple characters.

Using the multiple character perspectives helps exceptionally with the pacing of The Bay. Basically, a small town is caught in the middle of an ecological disaster, chaos breaks out and things get gory very quickly. The reason behind the horror slowly unfolds thanks to footage from some of the scientists looking into the environmental impact of the chicken industry in said small town and a reporter who is in the right place at the wrong time. There are other characters we also get to know who help build the human face of this horror and they all seem to act believably.

All the actors do a solid job, with Kether Donohue being the real stand out. She plays Donna Thompson, a reporter in town for a fluff piece who instead witnessed the shock of the event. She is both observer and narrator of the movie, tying all the footage together. Watching her go from a bright eyed young reporter who’s at the beginning of her career, to wearied human being who’s seen the worst nature can offer drives home the core dreadfulness of the story. It is the central performance and she was a character who I truly got behind.

This skin condition is the least of your worries in The Bay.
Being made on a very small budget some of the special effects aren’t that great, especially the CGI aspects. That being said the actual story and reason behind what’s happening to people still makes some of the effects cringe worthy. I don’t want to get into the exact reason for the disaster as that gnawing realization of what’s happening is one of the joys of the film. Needless to say it’s icky, creepy and gory.

There is a strong message in this movie but never did I feel like I was being preached to. It’s an effective horror movie that manages to do a lot with the found footage genre. I can’t recommend this film highly enough as it manages to scare and yet never delves into cheesy territory. Take a visit to The Bay why don’t you.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: All Superheroes Must Die (2011)


Reviewed by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Jason Trost
Starring: Jason Trost, Lucas Till and James Remar
Writer: Jason Trost

A villain captures four super heroes that have bested him in the past. Putting them in a town full of innocent civilians, it’s up to the heroes to play the villains’ dastardly game to not only save the innocents but to save themselves. Doesn’t this sound like a really cool movie? I loved this idea and was chomping at the bit to watch it. I wasn’t the only one either, as this movie (previously known as VS) was marketed to high hell in the nerd circles. Was it worth all the hype? Short answer, no.

Long answer:
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

The movie opens up with our four titular heroes - Charge, Cutthroat, Shadow and The Wall - waking up with all their powers gone. This is honestly strike one for me. The film was marketed as superheroes contending in a deadly game and right off the bat our protagonists are reduced to nothing more than mere mortals. It would have been tolerable if they had still used some intelligence, however all but one (Cutthroat) seemed to have no clue what to do now their powers were gone. I wished for death to claim the heroes quickly and I’m sure this is not what Jason Trost wanted.

The script in this movie is a complete and utter mess. If I had the time I would go through the millions of questions I have, I don’t, so I’ll boil everything down to the fact that numerous things contradict each other. Character motivations clash with flashbacks, villainous plans don’t make sense when you take a moment to think about it and dramatic sections supposed to carry weight are completely destroyed by flashback footage further on. The central idea is a good one, but it’s never ever capitalised on.

Another problem story wise is that it tries hard to make us care about these heroes, yet it hardly gives us anything to go on. There are flashbacks, yes, but these often confuse and contradict rather than illuminate. Due to all this, All Superheroes Must Die feels like a book that we’ve managed to skip over the first twenty or so chapters of.

Our heroes gather! *cue dramatic music*
The acting is pretty much terrible across the board, with either characters showing no emotion what so ever, or falling to the always reliable art of yelling loudly to emphasise high emotion. The gem in all this mess is James Remar as the villain Rickshaw. He’s having a ball and hamming it up to massive levels and there are moments in his eyes that show true insanity. This more than anything else helps him become one of the most believable characters in this. I’ll also say Jason Trost as Charge is decent as well, however being the writer and director he gives himself the most interesting character development and obviously being a character he has created, he knows the characters true emotions.

Directorially the movie is solid but nothing special. The set pieces are simplistic enough and try to make use of the limited budget. There is a nice dark tone to the movie but sometimes it’s undone by some cheap looking decisions. In particular one of the fights between hero and henchman takes place on a caged trampoline. I couldn’t help but laugh.

This movie has an epic concept but just can’t deliver. Its’ script is a mess and seeing as the foundation isn’t solid, nothing else holds up. James Remar is great but he can’t save this movie either. As is, All Superheroes Must Die becomes a lesson in not believing all the hype.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)


Article by Disgruntled Monkey

Directors: Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman
Stars: Chloe Csengery, Jessica Tyler Brown and Christopher Nicholas Smith
Writers: Christopher Landon and Oren Peli

I would love to say that Paranormal Activity improves with each instalment but I’ve seen what’s coming. However, let’s not jump to number 4 just yet. Instead, let us revel in the third movie, which acts as a prequel to the first two films. Thanks to the wonders of VHS we get to step back in time and witness Katie and Kristi when they were young children.

I’ll give Joost and Schulman abundant thumbs up when it comes to setting the time frame for this film. Taking place in 1988 yet presenting the movie in widescreen and high definition might be seen as a strike against a movie that is trying to be found footage. Yet despite the filming technology it still feels like it’s from the 1980’s.

Story wise the series keeps layering on little twists and details and, unbelievably, a movie that started off on a seemingly simple note has bloomed into such an ambitious story. It’s full of tragedy; by heading into the past to see an innocent Katie and Kristi we are enveloped in this perceptive sadness, we know that there is nothing good in the future of these girls. Still a simple tale yet these are what sequels are for, the telling of individual stories while building a massive mythos.

Ghost activity wise we get the standard sort of haunted house scares we have come to expect from the Paranormal Activity series. It’s funny how this unique twist the films had has now become one of the movies weaker components. If you liked the previous movies then you won’t be disappointed, just don’t expect anything too different.

The ol twin in the mirror trick.
Finally I am positively astounded that these movies keep finding ‘unknowns’ that are actually not that bad at acting. Chloe Csengery (Katie) and Jessica Tyler Brown (Kristi) give a solid performance as the two young girls. There are a few sections where their lack of experience shows, however they are not the worst child actors I’ve ever seen and manage to hold their own in some of the tougher scenes. Most of the actors in this movie can be summed up with ‘good - not great’. Still, that’s a great hit ratio compared to some horror movies.

Fans of Paranormal Activity should love this movie; it adds to the mythos of the series and technically, for myself at least, is one of the more interesting instalments. I might even go so far as to suggest this movie to those who weren’t fans of the first two movies, the stronger story might draw you in. Just let it soak in people; this is the high point of the series.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: G.I Joe Retaliation (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Jon M. Chu
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum and Adrianne Palicki
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

Okay, first thing I need to admit is that I’m a fan of the original G.I Joe. Wow I feel better now, like a weight has been lifted off my chest. But yes, I liked it and was looking forward to this sequel. Even with the studio delaying the movie by a year, I was hoping for some fun times. Having now watched the movie I’m completely split in two.

Stepping up to the lead position is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Roadblock and as always he brings a great physicality, as well as a tremendous amount of charisma. His chemistry with Channing Tatum is fantastic; I loved every scene they shared. However this creates the first big problem. The relationship between the two men is so awesome that when we lose that a third of the way into the movie, you can really feel it. The Rock looses someone he can play off and things get a tad boring.

D.J Cotrona (Flint) and Adrianne Palicki (Lady Jayne) are capable but are never really given much to do. Palicki gets a small side story but it seems crammed in there and kind of hurts the character in the process. Watching this movie I can see why she got the nod to play Wonder Woman but then like that pilot the material given to her is never that great. My greatest surprise of the film was Walton Goggins taking time out from Justified and playing the part of Warden Nigel James. His characterisation was the only time the film managed to re-capture the fun of the Tatum/Rock stuff from earlier on. I salute you sir and I officially dub you one of my all time favourite actors.

Story wise we have a plot that’s ripped straight out of the G.I Joe cartoons. This is great! There’s a doomsday weapon, Cobra Commander looking like Cobra Commander and stakes that involve the entire world. However I found the overall plot was hampered by the smaller scale budget. We have this exciting prospect that is never allowed to quite reach its epic potential because we can’t afford big armies clashing. Also the Snake Eyes stuff is pretty poorly handled; it just seems to come out of nowhere. At least it leads to an impressive fight in the mountains, unlike the final set piece.

How I wish The Rock beat Cena at 2012's Wrestlemania.
Speaking of action this is where things really excel. We have a more modern cinematography style with the use of shaky cam; however Jon M Chun never looses the audience. Not once did I question what was happening and it’s refreshing to see a director use rapid cutting and shaky cam properly. The set pieces aren’t as grandiose (except maybe the ninja fight in the mountains), but this I put down due to budget and what is there is excellent.

I really did like this movie; there are some serious flaws but the fact that it still succeeds despite them goes to show the talent involved. It’s not a game changing movie and  it’s not going to be on anyone’s top ten but it entertains and considering the trouble behind the scenes that’s all I could have hoped for. With the third movie green lit, I’m hoping a bit more money can be put into production. Till then, GO JOE!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Trailer Trawl Vol 2

Article by Disgruntled Monkey



Well I didn't think that I would be doing a second volume of Trailer Trawl so soon, but low and behold some interesting trailers came out. I think you can really tell that we are getting away from the dump months.


Elysium:

The new movie from Neil Blomkamp, Director of District 9. It looks like he will be going back to similar themes as District 9, but with a bigger epic feel to everything. I can't wait to see this movie.

Disconnect:

I knew nothing about this movie till a few days ago and I must say i'm intrigued. It seems like a drama thriller centered on the notion of social connection through internet. What really got my attention was Jason Bateman in a dramatic role and doing really well in it.

Now You See Me:

A new trailer was released for this movie and it seems to explain a little more of what's happening. I'm still in the dark to whether this is a science fiction movie or not, as the magic in the movie is very out of this world. However with a likeable cast such as Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Caine, I'm intrigued enough to go and watch this.

Filth:


RED BAND TRAILER - NSFW
Another movie I knew nothing about and as soon as I heard the funky music playing in this trailer I new I was going to need to watch it. James McAvoy plays Bruce Robertson a dirty perverted alcoholic police officer. While the trailer doesn't really touch much on the story, it does show us what to expect; think Bad Lieutenant with a quirky British flair.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On the Edge of Greatness: How Fans are Wrecking the Evolution of Games.

Article By Disgruntled Monkey



Time is something I find I have a lot of these days and as such I’ve been getting my gamer on. Of course this means I’ve been checking out the latest news and much to my blood pressures’ horror there have been a number of things showing up to piss me off. If I had to boil it down to one thing, it would be the immaturity of gamers and their over reactions to a variety of issues of late. By over reacting so much, the genuinely important problems are either overlooked or worse, just chalked up to ‘stupid fanboy rage.’


Things began to percolate in my head after hearing about the Dead Island Riptide Collectors’ Edition and the controversy that surrounded it. Personally I thought the statue in question was very much in bad taste, however I don’t think it was done to titillate the would be buyers. If the statue was supposed be sexy then it makes me worried about the state of some peoples minds, and that’s really not a road I want to travel down. Instead I think this was just a poorly conceived idea; sure my view might be a bit naïve, but it helps me sleep at night.

The Statue at the centre of the controversy.
Getting away from my own opinions for a moment, I saw a lot of angry people outraged at this collector edition. Now it’s fine to not be happy with the statue, I’m not going to sit here and say that people who have problems with this item should just chill out. However the way people go about raising the issue is where I have problems.

First, we have a fairly significant amount of people who are angry over this issue that really have no stakes in the matter what so ever. They may have not even known about it until they read someone else’s post or news article about it. Instead of forming their own opinions they latch onto the perceived problem and join the lynch mob. Of course it’s often hard to control a lynch mob and sometimes unfortunately the innocent monster is burnt alive because of this frenzied rage. This is the same with important ideas and problems raised within the gaming community. Sometimes any meaningful discussion is destroyed in all of the uncontrollable fury.

The second issue raised in my mind over the Riptide debacle, is the hijacking of an issue. Now while I myself didn’t see the statue as misogynist, I can understand if others do. This is an ideal arena for discussion and for a better understanding to be reached. Conversely I did notice a lot of male voices taking the lime light over this controversy and acting like an unneeded white knight. Why would this be a problem? Surely a male can speak about such controversies? You are right, but when some of the male voices yell and threaten those who don’t see the sexism, it really does hurt the discussion. It does become hard to sift through outrage to find the kernels of a decent debate.

Oh how Colonial Marines infuriated people, and with justification.
Moving away from Dead Island, let’s look at another over reaction. We come to the well-used shores of ‘Boycottville’. There are plenty of things that can make a gamer angry. Just last month we had the Simcity debacle and the Alien: Colonial Marines false advertising hoopla. A common reaction seems to be calling for a boycott of the game, and then buying it anyway in a week’s time.

Boycotting seems to have become the banner which many people wave and honestly over time it becomes a joke. I’ve seen many a gamer cry out that they are boycotting a game over the most minor of offenses, yet still buy the game on day one. This alone makes the anger of the boycott seem little more than a temper tantrum. This lessens the veracity of true boycottable issues because the developers can't see which issues are a problem and which are just nerd rage.

Boycotting is also used as a smokescreen for preference. When I say ‘Console War’ many a gamer imagines a fight having lasted generations, sometimes even extending out to consoles that haven’t even warped into existence.  People on the side of PS3 will boycott the Xbox360, Xbox360 users will boycott the Wii and thus the circle of fanboy rage continues. Yet having these superficial divisions is downright stupid. Enjoy all the consoles I say! (Then again, I am an Orange Lantern). Not only does this tit for tat argument exclude a whole bunch of games for a player but as I said above, it forces the industry to skim over or downright ignore the genuine complaints being put forward as it all blends in with other grievances and yet again comes across as just a temper tantrum.

The lynch mobs dedicated to burning Mass Effect to the ground was fascinating.
 Over reaction of gamers’ in my mind is an extremely negative thing to the industry. Video Games is really the baby of entertainment mediums and with more and more indie games being released with an artistic flair, it seems as if the industry is really on the edge of becoming a much more respected forum for artists. Take movies, books, art - they all have champions of their forms and while there are plenty of people who over react, there is room for actual discussion and growth.

Video Games do have their intelligent voices trying to grow the medium as a whole, but they seem to be constantly masked by the often louder, more obnoxious ones and it’s stunting any meaningful dialogue. It’s a problem any real movement has and it’s very much engrained in the root of our society but Video Games seem to have a harder time than most trying to overcome this immature rage.

We all feel like this sometimes, but we've got to talk ourselves down.
It could be because of the rise of the internet and how it seems to be very tied to the video games industry. It’s easy to have an opinion; it’s even easier to have an angry opinion when you’re shielded behind an anonymous name. For a while I was part of this rank and file but I get tired of just mindlessly hating things. One of the reasons I made this blog was to try and tackle the things I love but take the fan-boyism out of the equation.

So what is the solution? Don’t really have a much of one, other than raising the issue over and over again. When you see something that infuriates you, makes you angry; just take a moment and think about the entire picture. Talk to others, throw in the devil’s advocate, try and look at all angles. Only by encouraging dialogue and not outrage, can we truly move Video Games forward. We are right at the edge of greatness; we don’t want to wreck that.

So the last thing to say is my name is Daniel Hobson and I’d like to talk about Video Games.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Review: The Apparition (2012)

Review By Disgruntled Monkey



Director: Todd Lincoln
Stars: Ashley Greene, Sebastian Stan, Tom Felton
Writer: Todd Lincoln

When I saw this trailer originally I can tell you I was pretty excited. It’s no secret that I love the Slenderman and while this isn’t specifically about that particular entity, it did share some similar themes. Most notably in regards to a group of people conjuring up the thing that haunts them from their collective imaginations.

Unfortunately for me, The Apparition is an exercise in disappointment. The initial premise is strong; with the characters facing something that they themselves created being an ingenious idea full of potential. My hopes, however, were crushed as there was barely anything that kept my focus.

The main problem seems to be a lack of momentum. While the movie quickly puts its characters in peril, I’m never sure why we should care. The stakes at the heart of the movie are very cloudy and not a lot of thought is given to fleshing out the characters enough for us to give a damn. 

This seems to be made even worse by situating the film in a dull suburban location. With the right kind of horror movie a gated community could be an interesting setting; however a haunted house premise isn’t really the right one. Each shot of the dreary landscape couldn’t help but yet again draw my attention away from the story.

I’m not going to rag on the actors too much as I believe a significant amount of the blame can be laid at the footsteps of the writer/director. Most characters are given nothing to work with, and the only one who has a mildly interesting role is Tom Felton. Mr Felton plays Patrick, the main scientist behind the experiment that created the supernatural entity, however, what could have been an interesting character arc amounts to nothing as we hardly spend any time with him.

Finally we have the effects of the haunting themselves. They are all pretty standard fare, never offer anything new. Shadows in the corner, things going bump in the night, furniture moving. Oh and one original thing, mold. Yep mold. When mold is the most original thing you can come up with, there is a problem. Not really having a physical presence causes the viewer to never establish a real sense of dread related to the haunting. Happenings just seem to be random.

As you can tell I wasn’t a fan of this movie. It’s not only dull and uninteresting, but offers nothing original to the genre. The greatest offence it makes however is the mishandling of the unusual idea at the heart of this film. It’s great and to be squandered in such a way can only make me weep. Skip The Apparition and look up some Creepy Pasta youtube clips, it’ll be a better use of your time.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trailer Trawl Vol 1

Article By Disgruntled Monkey








I've been noticing some great looking trailers recently, so I thought I would share some of my favourites. Enjoy.


The Wolverine:

This looks so much better than the first one. Of course this isn't saying much as the first Wolverine movie was abysmal. However I have hope that they'vefinally got this movie series back on track. 

 

The Conjuring:

Loved Insidious (well except the last 10 or so minutes) and this looks like it will give me more of the same, which I have no problem with. Also having watched a butt tonne of paranormal shows, I know the people this movie is based around.

 

2 Guns:

First off, it's great to see Denzel in a role that's a little different from what he normally does. Add to the mix Mark Wahlberg who is in a role that suits him alot better, and you have the makings of a decent action movie. Plus it also has Bill Paxton. Huzzah.


The Purge:

Well this came out of nowhere. But The Purge is one of the nicer surprises of this year, combining a science fiction idea with an overall horror movie seems like a good idea. Plus Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are great actors in my opinion. Fingers crossed.

 
And that's your lot for now. It's nice to see a few movies I had no knowledge of, release the trailers and make me genuinely excited.