Sunday, 9 May 2010
My Weekend: A Mind Blowing Trailer. A Kick-Ass Movie. A Creepy Book. A Time Lord in Venice.
HOLY CRAP! If you haven't seen it already, check out this new trailer for Inception, Christopher Nolan’s follows up to The Dark Knight. Nolan is the master at making intelligent thrillers with complex narratives and strong adult thematic underpinnings. This just looks stunning. Basically it is a high tech sci fi crime/heist film set in the world of dreams. I'd be mightily surprised if Inception doesn't end up as the best film of 2010. Jaw meet floor.
(Sorry, couldn’t find an embed.)
Iron Man 2
Good but not great. The first one was better. This time around the story was too unfocussed with all of act 2 being just long stretches of talk and virtually no action. Mickey Rourke, though good, was rather an underused villain. Also the films 'wow' factor was pretty much absent this time - except for the great race sequence in Monaco.
But despite its flaws I still enjoyed it quite bit. For a big summer blockbuster superhero film it might be too shallow to be quite so talky but then again when you have the likes of Robert Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson verbally sparring on screen then that’s real talent and charisma overload. Throw in the wonderful Gwyneth Paltrow, whose chemistry with Downey Jr is still pleasingly sparky, the fun Sam Rockwell and the gorgeous ass kicking goddess who be Scarlett Johannsen, plus some pretty cool (when they happen) action sequences, and IM2, for all its faults, is still a cut above. Oh, and if you’re a superhero/Marvel geek then hang around until the end credits are over for a foretaste of the next big Marvel movie. A certain Norse thunder god is on his way. 3.5/5
I watched Kick-Ass again this morning. God I love this film. It is just bursting at the seams with such creative, irreverent, yet weirdly warm and affectionate energy. If you’ve ever loved superheroes and wondered why nobody ever tried doing it for real (or maybe you secretly dreamed of doing it for real yourself) then Kick-Ass is for you.
Kick-Ass is directed by Mathew Vaughan (Layer Cake, Stardust) and adapted from Mark Millar’s excellent graphic novel of the same name. Aaron Johnson in the title role is perfect. He comes across as an even geekier version of Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker and a lot more realistic as an ordinary hormone fuelled teenager with dreams of masked heroism and of getting the girl. But it is a certain pint sized psycho moppet who truly steals the show. Chloe Moretz as Hit Girl is a phenomenon. She’s an eleven-year-old whirling dervish of mayhem, death and profanity. And with a vicious curled lip that would make any grown man quiver in fear. Quite simply this kid in this role is an instant pop culture icon. A lot of the stuff she does and says is very, very wrong for such a little lass. And yet she does it so darn well. As her daddy, Nicolas Cage is almost as brilliant. When in his Batman-esque costume, Cage adopts an Adam West style persona that just kills. Watching him in this you remember why he actually is a movie star.
Kick-Ass is the best film I’ve seen this year. And the most fun film I’ve seen this year. And the most wrong film I’ve seen this year. I mean watching nasty Mark Strong punching an eleven-year-old girl in the face repeatedly is a mightily disturbing sight. But don’t worry dear reader, he soon gets his comeuppance. Oh yes indeed. 5/5
I’ve just finished The Reckoning, book three in Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers young adult series.
Fifteen year old Chloe Saunders, a troubled but powerful young necromancer, is on the run from Lyle House Children’s Home along with bitchy witch Tori, handsome arty sorcerer Simon, and Simon’s adoptive brother, the hulking, bad moody Derek, a fast maturing werewolf. Hot on their heels is the mysterious and deadly Edison Group, a shadowy organisation who’ve been doing some very nasty secret experiments on supernatural children for years. Chloe and her new friends seem to be the culmination of those experiments. And the Edison Group wants them back.
This third book wraps up the first trilogy of the Darkest Powers series in a fitting and exciting way. The Reckoning is a cracking read full of realistic and witty dialogue, great characters, dramatic action, high emotion, nasty monsters and supernatural shenanigans. There are a lot of chases, fights, double crosses and supernatural showdowns as well as some cool payback and destruction. But, as always with Kelley’s books, the characters, relationships and the emotions are always kept at the forefront. The fact that this is part of a young adult series doesn’t matter. The Darkest Powers series is still set in Kelley’s Otherworld universe and her usual writing style is kept 100% intact. Content-wise the action, humour and horror is all still there. But (as only to be expected in a YA book) the fairly graphic eroticism that plays a role in her adult work is not present here. Instead we get elements of teenage angst along with some burgeoning conflicted feelings; feelings which never amount to anything more physical than a hug, the holding of hands or a tender kiss. And that’s fine. For the teens in this series are so well drawn and so layered and complex in their characters that you totally accept it. It seems truthful and real. You really do like these kids and feel for them in their plight. Kelley Armstrong gives great character.
Anyway, I’ll miss Chloe. She was a great narrator who went on a fun, scary and challenging journey over the three books from a stuttering, insular and rather timid little daddy’s girl to someone of burgeoning power, intelligence, maturity and courage. The fact that she was also a major movie geek (especially horror and action films) and an aspiring screenwriter was just the icing on the cake. Although this part of Chloe’s story is now over, the book’s ending sets up the bigger tale with new and dangerous future missions to undertake. The next Darkest Powers trilogy will have new main characters, new stories and a new narrator, but Kelley says that Chloe, Derek, Simon, Tori et al will be back at some point, most likely as supporting characters rather than leads. And I look forward to meeting up with them again. 4.5/5
Doctor Who is still great. Matt Smith now owns this role so much it ain’t funny. I much prefer his Time Lord take to that of David Tennant. I liked Tennant but preferred Chris Eccleston. Now I prefer Smith to them both. And Amy Pond is just sublime. She’s gorgeous, smart, fiery, funny, perfect. The stories so far have varied in quality from the excellent opener, the brilliant Weeping Angels two-parter, to the fun but flawed Victory of the Daleks, and the okay but not great second one called The Beast Below. This week’s ep was Vampires in Venice from Being Human writer Toby Whithouse. It was a fun romp made all the better by the wonderful location filming in Croatia (doubling perfectly for Venice), Whithouse’s witty, funny, insightful dialogue, and Matt Smith knocking it way out of the park as The Doctor. Watch and revel in his quiet, subtle scene with the main villain as they debate about what to do next. He gives a level of mature restraint, thoughtfulness and sly wit that Tennant would have had trouble in selling. My two main criticisms of this episode are:
1) The actual plot is very samey to new Who tales that have come before. Think The Runaway Bride meets The Fires of Pompeii.
2) The FX. The Mill FX house dropped the ball here with some of the crummiest CGI recently seen in the show. The Doctor climbing the tower at the end is embarrassingly bad, as is some of the obvious CG water added throughout to make the location look even more Venice-y.
On the big plus side, though, the gaggle of female vampires are a foxy lot with even The Doctor getting a bit overexcited at times. And Whithouse’s script is full of many wonderful lines and some great character based humour. Next week sees The Doctor and Amy trapped in a world of dreams and having to find their way out before they die. It looks very interesting and suitably weird.