Archive for the 'Film' Category


Films I’ve seen recently


  • Tusk. Jerk podcaster falls into the clutches of a madman. This is more of a straight-up horror film than I expected fanboy director Kevin Smith to be capable of. It’s still pretty silly, though, and hampered by a low budget and a ludicrous Johnny Depp cameo. 3/5.
  • Gone Girl. Couple with relationship problems mess each other up; or do they? David Fincher is a master stylist of direction, and Rosamund Pike is very good in her part. But the Doogie Barney Desi character is annoying. And the last 30 minutes jumps the shark (I’m sure the book did too) in a way that made me shake my head. 3/5.
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Final film in fantasy series builds to a big battle. Beautiful to look at (obviously). Despite being shorter than the first two Hobbits, it felt stretched (obviously). The joy has gone. Had to see it, though. 3/5.
  • Snowpiercer. We overreact to global warming and the remnants of humanity end up living on a train. Better than it had any right to be, with gripping direction. The staging of how the train classes evolved into social classes, with dictatorial leadership, was incredibly convincing. Great, brutal action scenes. Funny too. 4/5.
  • Big Hero 6. Kids in the near future build cool robots and solve a mystery. An animated story that really is for the whole family without trying too hard to drop in jokes for the adults. Just good, exciting, fun, funny storytelling. 5/5.
  • The Interview. Bumbling talk show guys get enlisted to kill the leader of North Korea. Pineapple Express was clever. This isn’t. 2/5.
  • Interstellar. Earth is dying and we need to find a new home. Top-notch film-making. Deep space sci-fi with physics and philosophy? This movie was made for me. Great acting all ’round, too. Epic on IMAX. Unfortunately the last 30 minutes included a touchy-feeling pluck of the heart-strings that took me a little bit out of it. 4/5.

The World’s End

Those awesome folks at Popcorn Taxi keep putting on fun big-screen film events. I’ve previously seen the digitally restored version of Jaws with them, plus re-watched The Hobbit with a Q&A featuring actor Richard Armitage.

Last night was one of the world’s first showings of The World’s End, the new Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film. Not only did 800 of us get to see the movie two weeks ahead of the rest of Australia and two days ahead of the UK, we got an hour-long Q&A after the film with all three aforementioned gentlemen.


The World’s End is the final instalment in their Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy and it lives up to the standards set by Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. It’s very British, massively funny, has themes of friendship and social struggle, has over-the-top action scenes, and has many of the supporting actors from the earlier films. The only downside to this film is that since it’s set on a crawl around 12 pubs, with many pints of beer downed as they go, it’ll make you extremely thirsty to watch. Avoid salty popcorn.

The Q&A was nearly as good as the movie. The boys were hilarious whether talking about their early days or the making of the films or about what makes them make art at all. And obsessive fans asking questions are usually pretty good entertainment themselves.


Pacific Rim rocks


I saw Pacific Rim last night in 3D and on the biggest, loudest movie screen I could. I thought it was fantastic, though I acknowledge it will more likely be so for its target audience.

I am a member of its target audience because of these factors:

  • I like big, action movies.
  • I like the sense of fantasy and positivity that Guillermo Del Toro brings to his movies.
  • I have a very clear memory of watching the famous flying kick scene in Godzilla vs Megalon on TV when I was a kid, and that hooked me on kaiju.
  • I watched a lot of Voltron as a kid, and that hooked me on giant people-driven robots battling monsters.

Pacific Rim is light on plot and characterisations. It’s chock full of amazing CGI that carries weight and damage and sound. It has epic clashes between giant robot-like machines and extra-dimensional monsters. They smash cities as they battle, and it looks amazing.

This will clearly appeal to a 10-year-old you that still lives inside your head or it will not. If not, I pity you.


Great Yelp events

I’ve really been cashing in on Yelp events recently. It pays to be verbose and opinionated.

Two nights ago there was an amazing Chinese feast at New Shanghai restaurant in Chatswood. You can read about the event here, and see my review of the restaurant here. I will mention here only that I skipped the next two meals after that feast.

The dumplings which may not be denied

The dumplings which may not be denied

And last night I made use of two free passes to see an IMAX 3D film I won via a Yelp competition, part of the same prize in which I snagged this nerdy T-shirt. But I’d already seen the new Star Trek film, so instead I caught the opening night of the new Superman film, Man of Steel. It was really very good. There’s always something for the fussy to pick at; it was far from perfect. But it had big themes (saviours, redemption, family, service, and mercy) and big action scenes, which is what Superman’s all about. On the IMAX screen it felt properly legendary.


Thanks Yelp!


Jaws: the new restoration at the Randwick Ritz

My favourite movie, Jaws, has been digitally restored to a pristine new version. I mentioned this on my other blog because of the technology involved, which is impressive.

Last night this sharper-than-ever version was shown at the Ritz cinema here in Sydney, presented by the film event folks at Popcorn Taxi, and a mate and I went. It was great. People dressed up in shark outfits (I wore my chalkboard scene T-shirt), Universal gave away some DVDs, and we saw the whole glorious film in big-screen digitalness.

Jaws came out in 1975 so I was too young to see it on its original theatrical release, and I’ve never seen it big-screen since. It was fun to do so last night with a room full of other fans. The film looked amazing, and sounded MUCH more impressive. Wow. The big thrill-ride of adventure, humour, shocks, man vs. nature, all played out in sights and sounds that were sharper and louder than ever before. It was a real event.

The “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” line got a massive cheer and round of applause.

I can’t imagine wanting to watch it again for a while now. I feel full, like a shark who’s chomped down too many people.

Top: original Jaws theatrical version. Bottom: digitally restored version.


Every face punch from the Patrick Swayze film “Road House”

Road House is one of those ultimately cheesy ’80s movies that I have an indescribable soft spot for. It’s got bar fights, the Jeff Healey Band, plenty of nudity, bouncers that don’t wear underwear, evil Ben Gazzara, a monster truck, Sam Freakin’ Elliott, and lines like “That gal’s got entirely too many brains to have an ass like that.”

Here is every punch to the face from the film, condensed into 45 seconds of video glory.



No spoilers.

As a massive Alien fanboy I’ve been eagerly awaiting Prometheus, Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi and the Alien universe. It is a sort-of prequel and big-theme epic, he said.

I saw it last night in its Australian premiere, in 3D and on the world’s biggest IMAX screen.

I liked it a lot. It was not perfect; it’s no Alien or Blade Runner. But it is undoubtedly a massive, spectacular-looking, suspenseful, sci-fi epic. The combination of real and computer FX is stunning. There are blasts and scares and oozy disgusting bits. There’s peril, and there’s a laugh or two. There are big themes, very big themes. There are some answers, if you’re a clued-up fanboy and you pay attention.

The 3D is good. Scott shot the film in 3D, it wasn’t done in post-production, and it feels natural and puts you in the action.

There has been some criticism that the film is too short, too edited. I agree with this. Although it’s two hours long it feels cramped and rushed. Another 15 minutes would help. Extended version, perhaps?

Also, the characters do a few things that made me raise an eyebrow in the “oh, come on, now, no one’s THAT stupid” sort of way.

Some reviews have criticised the lack of character establishment; this doesn’t bother me as much, as you get there later. Alien didn’t have much character establishment, either, but repeated viewings make us feel like we know those characters.

But there is so much spectacle that you never get to the level of emotional buy-in of Alien or Blade Runner. I wasn’t filled with fear or existential dread. Still, I had a breathless, whiz-bang time, and I loved seeing the roots of a film franchise that I love, thrilled to see how that fictional universe will come to be.

I’ve been reflecting on it today and realising how subtle and intricate some of it is. Many fanboys are disappointed that it’s not a direct prequel to Alien (even though Scott said it wasn’t). The director has left clear room for another film to fit between Prometheus and that classic, and there are at least two threads to follow as we get there.