Two fantastic new Dark Knight Rises covers from the UK Empire magazine… the Catwoman one is AWESOME.
The viral marketing campaign for Chris Nolan’s final chapter in the Batman trilogy is up and underway, with Warner releasing of a pair of leaked “CIA documents” referring to a certain Dr. Leonid Pavel.
The first document shows a mug-shot of actor Alon Abutbul, alongside a potted profile of nuclear physicist Pavel. Much of the accompanying information has been blacked out, but the second document sheds a little more light on proceedings.
The document is a transcript between a CIA official and a militia unit, concerning possible asylum for the Doctor, who apparently fears for his life. Is Bane after him? Is Batman?
Take a look at the pair of documents on the Total Film website.
Another review from my 5 year old son. He couldn’t wait until the weekend to review ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’ so knocked out this review until he sees that behemoth on Saturday afternoon. This is more of a synopsis than a review. SPOILER ALERT. He gives away the ending. I usually edit out huge spoilers from his movie reviews but figured that this is so old now and no-one is going to rent it anyway.
“It’s about a spooky house that’s called a mansion. It’s about ghosts and graveyards. A man and a woman give some people some cookies. There’s a nice ghost. The nice ghost helps the man get his children out of a box from the skeletons that are spooky. The bad ghost can’t get hurt by anyone but in the end he gets fire on him and the good guy is okay. It’s not too scary for kids but little kids might get scared. It’s spooky and funny but spooky.”
Any good ***
Following up from a well received review of ‘Thor‘ by my 5 year old son, posted on this blog May 16th. Here’s another of his reviews, this time for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
“It was about Pirates, Soldiers and Mermaids and Zombies, but there were just two Zombies. It’s about good guys fighting bad guys. The good guy is Captain Jack Sparrow, the bad guy is Blackbeard. They are trying to get some water from the Fountain of Youth. To get there they have to go into a spooky cave. One of the Pirates tries to kiss a Mermaid but when he gets closer her teeth get sharper, then more Mermaids come and their teeth get sharper. When the Mermaids attacked the Pirates, this was the scariest part. One Mermaid gets stabbed in the tail and the Pirates escape to land. The Mermaid who gets stabbed in the tail is good. The movie was too long even though when we came home it was still light. The best thing about the whole movie was the skull drink bottle and Pirates treasure box with popcorn.”
Rating: Initially he gave 5 stars; then upon comparison to Thor this was dropped to 4 stars. His Mum rated it 2½ stars, stating that it is overlong and there a there a few scenes that would be scary for small children.
So after trashing ‘Skin Walkers’ last week I was asked for a good example of a werewolf movie… so here’s another list of the Good, Okay and Avoid… Starting with six Good ones:
An American Werewolf in London (1981). Written and Directed by John Landis, this is the best werewolf movie by some distance. Frightening, funny and featuring the best transformation scene ever filmed. The film follows two American backpackers, David (David Naughton) and Jack (Griffin Dunne) who are holidaying in rural England. Following an awkward visit to a village pub called ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’ they wander over the moors and are attacked by a wolf. Jack is killed but David survives and is troubled by disturbing dreams and visits from his dead friend Jack. I love this movie; it’s an all-time favourite of mine and generally considered a classic of the genre. There’ll be a more extensive review soon. Unsurpassed.
The Company of Wolves (1984). Directed by Neil Jordan and starring Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury and a host of British thespians. This fantastical gothic-horror film looks at the underbelly of the Red Riding Hood fable. Jordan has always maintained that it is not a horror film and to call it so would be misleading the audience. It’s a stylish, bizarre, dark and beautiful fairytale teeming with symbolism and imagery. It also features one of the more original and unusual transformation scenes. I love this film and you can read a full review on this site posted 3/05/11.
Dog Soldiers (2002). Writer/Director Neil Marshall’s first feature, Dog Soldiers follows a squad of British soldiers led by Sergeant Harris (Sean Pertwee) on a training mission in the Scottish Highlands. They are being stalked by a Special Ops Squad and something far more dangerous. As they make their escape from the unseen foe they stumble across a zoologist called Megan (Emma Cleasby) who seems to know a little too much about what is hunting them. This is a really great fun, the action is brutal and the werewolves are exceptional considering the tiny budget.
The Howling (1981). Directed by Joe Dante and famous for the effects work by Rob Bottin who got the job after Rick Baker left to work on ‘An American Werewolf in London’ (A very good decision). The movie follows journalist Karen White (Dee Wallace) as she is attacked by a serial killer, she suffers amnesia and is sent to ‘The Colony’ by her therapist Dr. Waggner (Patrick MacNee) to recover. However all is not what it seems there… The lack of budget in certain scenes is glaringly obvious (Animated sex-silhouette.!?!) but overall the film is great fun and worth a viewing.
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961). Hammer classic starring Oliver Reed as Leon Corledo, the werewolf. Set in 18th Century Spain for a change, this is a different take on the werewolf myth and is a lot of fun. A beggar is teased and imprisoned by a cruel nobleman; the nobleman’s wife is thrown into the same cell 15 years later and raped by the beggar… she gives birth to a cursed child who is raised by a local family. Soon enough town animals are found dead and the townsfolk go on the hunt for a wolf… Great fun and Reed really sinks his teeth into the role.
The Wolfman (1941). The Universal classic starring Lon Chaney Jr. as Larry Talbot, the cursed Wolfman of the title. Revisiting his ancestral home, Talbot is bitten by a wolf while visiting a local Gypsy camp where his bleak future was foretold by an old Gypsy fortune teller. This is classic Universal style fun with exceptional Wolfman make-up. Chaney reappeared in several sequels, some with other classic Universal monsters but this is his best.
Four okay werewolf movies:
Wolfen (1981). Based on Whitley Strieber’s novel and directed by Michael Wadleigh. The movie follows New York Cop Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) who is investigating a series of murders in his district, he slowly comes to realise that they have been committed by an inhumanly strong animal of some sort. The movie takes a slightly different look at the wolf folklore; here they are Wolfen, not wolves. It features a good cast, particularly Finney and Edward James Olmos and some quite bloody kill scenes. Overall a pretty decent effort.
The Wolfman (2010). Upon returning to his ancestral home for his brother’s funeral, actor Lawrence Talbot (Benicio Del Toro) is bitten and cursed by a werewolf. He subsequently falls for his brothers fiancé Gwen (Emily Blunt) and realises that his father (Anthony Hopkins) is stricken by the same curse and is responsible for his brother and mothers deaths. Not as bad as the reaction to it on initial release, Del Toro’s vanity project hence his miscasting features some of the best make-up ever by Rick Baker. The transformation scene alone is worth watching the movie for, utilising a terrific blend of traditional make-up and CGI for the best scene. Overlong but fun.
Wolf (1994). Directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jack Nicolson and Michelle Pfeiffer, Wolf is the Hollywood heavyweight entry on the list. It follows mild mannered editor-in-chief Will Randall (Jack) who is bitten by a wolf while driving home in Vermont. Shortly afterwards he is demoted by his new boss Raymond Alden (Christopher Plummer) and replaced by Stewart Swinton (James Spader) who is also having an affair with Will’s wife Charlotte (Kate Nelligan). Will starts to become more aggressive, taking on the characteristics of a wolf. He enters an affair with Aldens daughter Laura (Michelle Pfeiffer) and changes his life. Wolf treats the werewolf mythology seriously and quite cleverly; good fun.
Ginger Snaps (2000). A good movie by director John Fawcett, focussing on Ginger (Katherine Isabelle), a 16 year old obsessed with photographing scenes of death. Together with her younger sister Brigitte (Emily Perkins) she makes a pact to kill herself when she has her first period, however that night she is bitten by a werewolf. Over the next month she goes through some body changes and her craving for blood intensifies. This is a really good, fun movie and was moderately successful which unfortunately meant a sequel and prequel followed.
…and four werewolf movies to avoid:
Skin walkers (2007). Reviewed yesterday. It’s an action film with werewolves and it’s rubbish. Avoid.
Twilight: New Moon (2009). Longer review coming soon. Directed by Chris Weitz this is a woeful follow up to Twilight. The werewolves are terrible CGI, their design and animation is cheap and immediately removes you from the movie when they feature on screen. Avoid.
Cursed (2005). Directed by Wes Craven and written by Kevin Williamson who should both know better, this is awful. Siblings Jimmy (Jesse Eisenberg) and Ellie (Christina Ricci) are scratched by an animal while trying to rescue the passenger of a car they hit. They start to develop wolfish traits and blah, blah, blah… avoid.
Van Helsing (2004). The worst movie on the list for so many reasons… A big budget and good cast wasted by a stupid script and awful CGI effects… avoid at all costs.
Interrupted moments before his coronation by an attempted theft of a powerful weapon by an ancient enemy, powerful, popular but arrogant heir to the throne Thor (Chris Hemsworth) decides to exact revenge on the perpetrators. He enlists the help of his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and friends Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stephenson), Fandral (Josh Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) he attacks the Frost Giants in their home planet of Jotunheim. If all this already sounds a bit ho-hum, stay with it as it’s done so well and is great fun. There’s a fantastic battle between Thor’s warriors and the Frost Giants, however when all seems lost our heroes are rescued by Thor’s father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). Odin is furious at the arrogant and impetuous Thor who is stripped of his powers, cast out of the realm of Asgard and banished to Earth.
Crashing to earth in the New Mexico desert, Thor is rescued/run over by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard). Thor struggles to adapt to this new world; it is these moments which add much needed humour that helps to take the edge off the Norse god scenes. Thor and Jane are intrigued by each other and develop a close relationship. Thor’s hammer, the source of his power, has also landed in the desert and is quarantined by S.H.I.E.L.D agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). When Thor discovers this, with Janes help he tries to retrieve the hammer, but after beating up countless agents he is unable to lift the hammer, he is not worthy to do so… yet.
Meanwhile back in Asgard, Odin is taken ill and collapses; Loki assumes power and upholds Thors banishment. Loki also tries to take the hammer but cannot lift it; he sends a powerful weapon called the Destroyer to destroy Thor and the New Mexican town. During a fantastic battle Thor offers himself as a sacrifice to save his friends, Jane and the town, this is the key to his worthiness to wield the hammer.
I was initially sceptical about this movie not being much of a fan of the Thor comic books. I always found it difficult to allow the necessary suspension of disbelief to enjoy Thor fighting alongside Captain America, Iron Man and the Hulk, all of whom are products of science. I was wrong, the movie is so well made and so much fun; it’s littered with references to the previously released Iron Man and the upcoming Captain America, as well as a cameo from Jeremy Renner as archer Hawkeye.
The movie looks incredible; the design department have created a fantastical world in Asgard, both the set design and costumes look amazing. The Frost Giants and Destroyer are awesome looking foes.
Kenneth Branagh has done a wonderful job bringing the disparate elements together and as mentioned earlier he really blends the separate worlds well, mixing the ‘Shakespearean Asgard gravitas and dialogue’ with the more realistic modern day earth. I thought he was an unusual choice as director, although admittedly from my point of view his involvement was a reason to see the movie.
As expected from Branagh he handles the sibling rivalry, family feuds and weighty dialogue with the necessary gravitas garnered from his extensive Shakespearean knowledge. The movie could have come across as incredibly ‘hammy’ but instead ends up being a fun romp and the front runner for popcorn flick of the year to this point. Hopefully this acts as the reboot to his Hollywood career.
The cast are all good, we know what to expect from the likes of Hopkins, Portman and Skarsgard but Chris Hemsworth is a revelation in the titular role. I was unsure what to expect but he handles the muscular action scenes, ridiculous language, romance and humour equally well. If he chooses his next few roles well he should have a bright future.
Great fun if you’re looking for a blockbuster with big action, huge set pieces and its tongue firmly in cheek. Some scary scenes with the Frost Giants for really young kids but they’re more than likely to complain about the running time than those action scenes.
Quality: 4 out of 5 stars
Any good: 4 out of 5 stars