Monthly Archives: April 2012

“Expendables 2” posters – It’s a milliner’s dream!

Toughness comes in many forms.  Some dudes like to present a visual image of intimidation and go the bulk-up route,  body-building their way to success.  Others follow the ‘quiet, inner strength’ formula and let the unspoken menace do the talking.  Others fight fire with fashion – “If you want to get ahead…”, as the saying goes, “…get a hat“.

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Yep, there’s a new bunch of character posters for the Stallone toplined, Simon West directed “Expendables 2”, which look unintentionally hilarious when viewed together.

How so?  Well, you’ve got Sly above. Looking appropriately grizzled and time-served, quite in keeping with the premise of the series.

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Nobody’s going to argue with Jason Statham bringing back his specific brand of cockney bad-assery to the franchise – nice facial expression, Jase, loving the grimace, very on-message.

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Dolph Lundgren – no argument from me.  Could he look any more 80’s action hero gone bad?

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Liam Hemsworth – one of these chaps is not like the others.

I’m assuming his casting (and puppy dog good looks) are a deliberate and plot-driven decision, as it’s hard to see the audience who fell in love with him in The Hunger Games being that motivated to check out a testosterone-driven action flick with a cast largely composed of blokes old enough to be their Dad.  I’ve been proven wrong before, mind you.

We’re still waiting for a decent trailer – apparently one was just shown behind closed doors to industry types attending this week’s CinemaCon in Las Vegas, and as these posters are now in the wild, it can’t be too long until we get to see what the mayhem looks like in motion.

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International Metal Day

File this one under ‘right up my alley’ – it turns out that December 12th 2012 is the inaugural International Heavy Metal Day.

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The above image employed, of course, because there’s nowt more metal than the late, much missed Ronnie James Dio and I do like to think that he would approve of the idea of a day celebrating a genre of music that he loved and performed in so proudly for the majority of his storied musical career.

Day organiser Iron Matthew doesn’t have any major ambitions for the day at this point – he confesses that he’ll probably just be cranking his tunes a bit louder on the December date and letting the music do the talking, but I’m sure that if you choose to follow his splendid lead in following this day of celebration, you can make up your own celebrations which seem appropriate.

German awesomenauts Blind Guardian, and the cover for their recent "At The Edge of Time" record...

So, making biscuits of Iron Maiden mascot Eddie whilst wearing one’s best Norwegian Black Metal inspired ghoulish face paint and playing the bass line to Blind Guardian’s “Valkyries” it is, then.

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Growing Old Gothfully

A fascinating piece on growing old and staying Goth from the Guardian’s music critic, Alexis Petridis

Goth for life | Music | The Guardian.

As it turns out, it it possible to stay involved in the music which you’ve always loved as you get older and not have to worry a jot about what other people think – who knew?  I personally love the idea of the more stately Goth, so this feature’s notion that there’s a covert UK middle class largely comprised of former batwing jumper wearing, flour-covered, snakebite and black drinking teens who’ve segued into professional life and jettisoned none of their love of music is quite a delight.

Show some respect to the systems administrator helping you with your PC – he might well be spending his weekends DJ-ing at the alternative club you hang out in.

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“The Avengers” – the Fluffrick review.

"The Avengers" - they're Earth's mightiest heroes, you know...

‘Joyous’ is the first word which comes to mind when discussing Joss Whedon‘s landmark superhero action adventure extravaganza, “The Avengers” (I can’t be bothered with that goofy UK re-titling – if there’s genuinely anybody in the country who could confuse these Marvel superheroes with John Steed and Emma Peel, the odds are quite good that they’re not in the demographic for this film anyway.  “The Avengers” it is, then).

Take a bow, folks, take a bow...

It’s a two and a half hour thrill ride quite unlike any of the other Marvel comic adaptations – the ensemble nature of the story makes it different and the dynamics brought to the film by the actors involved also help in that regard.  What’s actually different about this film is the scale of the piece – its bloody massive and fully deserves what might seem an excessive running time to fit everything in.  There’s no bloat here – not at all.

I wouldn’t dream of spoiling things for you, but I will say that your enjoyment of “The Avengers” is going to be very dependent on which of the team is your particular favourite – unsurprisingly, Joss Whedon gives Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow some decent stuff to do, but I was surprised by how well he balanced screen time for the principal characters and the supporting cast.  I’m a Tony Stark guy myself, but I really warmed to Mark Ruffalo‘s Bruce Banner/Hulk and the prospect of a movie starring the latter would really sit well with me after this film.

Whedon’s often been criticised for not filling the screen in the same way as some feature directors do – ‘he’s a TV director’ is often the cry, but it’s one which I feel could be reasonably silenced by the way that Whedon works with his director of photography Seamus McGarvey in this film.  If you’re still of the opinion, after seeing this film, that Whedon doesn’t know how to stage large-scale action sequences or throw special effects around with abandon, perhaps you might want to see the film without the chip on your shoulder and the blindfold over your eyes.

It’s a spectacular film – you wouldn’t really it want it to be any other way, but it genuinely feels appropriately big, thrilling and eye catching, all without some of the hand-held camera work and distracting editing which blights a lot of would-be action flicks.  You can see what’s happening, know where the characters are on-screen and have a sense of what’s happening from moment to moment which seems as though it should be a bare minimum or sign of competence for a film maker but sadly seems to be an increasingly forgotten art.  Thank Whedon for that.

I didn’t want to do spoilers, and this isn’t a spoiler in the truest sense of the term, but there’s one shot in the movie (in the climactic battle) which takes Whedon’s love of long takes and extended camera shots and runs with it – you’ll know it when you see it, because you’ll be grinning like a loon as you watch your every comic book team fantasy put on-screen seamlessly.

It’s not perfect – the initial coming together of the team takes a while to reach a point which really drives the plot forward – but “The Avengers” gets so many things right that it feels churlish to moan about little things.  I’m confident in saying that your inner Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Penny would find something to enjoy in this film – it’s catnip for comic book fans, just plain exciting for regular citizens and a sterling effort by all concerned.

Joss Whedon – you’ve done us all proud and I thank you for it.

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Me and Peter B.

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I have a love-hate relationship with “Guardian” film critic Peter Bradshaw.  Whilst I respect his opinion on film, I rarely – if ever – find myself agreeing with him.  This is partly because he seems to have a critical blind-spot on the SF/fantasy/horror genre and dramatically gifts anything nominally obscure, in a foreign language or self-consciously arty with more praise than it deserves.  I guess you could say this about any film critic – they should be calling ’em as they see them – but with Peter Bradshaw, I find myself driven to comically absurd flights of apoplexy more often than I would like.

If you had to invent a parody of the kind of film writer who should be working for a newspaper like The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw would be that guy.  Now, if it were Kim Newman talking smack about genre flicks, you know that I’m going to be listening to him…

Hopefully, then, you’ll understand why I’m slightly nonplussed about his just-published review of “The Avengers”. Am I being trolled or did he really like it?  Because I seem to remember him giving a similarly effusive review to the first Fantastic Four movie, which he later recanted, suggesting that his ebullient, pre-holiday mood had significantly sweetened his mood before taking in a superhero movie that even its staunchest defender would admit had some issues (Doctor Doom, Jessica Alba‘s baffling continued employment, a tone best described as sugary and goofy).

In any case, I’ll be able to stop posting these seemingly endless stories about “The Avengers” as Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and yours truly will be seeing the 11:30am screening at our local cineplex on Friday morning.  Yes, I have taken the day off to see this flick (something that I’m not even doing for The Dark Knight Rises) and you already know that I’m a sad excuse for a nerd, so it shouldn’t come as any real surprise.

Some things are – I hope very much – quite worth going the extra mile for.

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“The Hobbit” kind of…sucks?

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File this one under ‘new technology scares me and we should go back to flip-books!”

Movie industry trade show CinemaCon is unfurling as we speak in Las Vegas and showing the world’s cinema owners the latest and greatest forthcoming attractions from the major studios.

In what some are calling a minor setback for director Peter Jackson‘s forthcoming duo of “Hobbit” adaptations, early reception to a ten-minute ‘sizzle reel‘ of moments from the films was decidedly mixed, due in  no small part to Jackson’s decision to shoot the film in eye-popping 48 frame per second format – your current cinema fare is shot in 24 frames per second.

"Trust me - I know what I'm doing..."

The effect, to some who took in the footage, is rather akin to the dodgy ‘motion-smoothing’ technology which you can find on modern flat-screen tv sets and robs the footage of the classic, ‘grainy’ filmic feel that we’ve become used to (younger viewers who’ve come of age in an era of hi-def, cg animation and clean, smooth imagery might not have the same issues).  It’s an adjustment to make, apparently, but one which can swiftly be made and dissipates many of the negative side-affects which many viewers experience when viewing 3D footage in the cinema.

Dear old Movieline magazine – or what passes for that once glorious film publication currently – has rounded up some early reactions here.

I’m all for technology giving us something new to experience – though I’ve become rather ticked-off by the major studios desire to bolt 3-D presentation onto any film that stops for breath long enough, the likes of Beowulf and “Avatar” proved to me that a big movie in the 3-D format can immerse like nothing else – so I’m keen to see what Peter Jackson does with his 48 FPS blockbuster.

Do we want the barrier between film and viewer removed in the way that this film’s footage apparently does?  It’s going to make it look like nothing else out there, that’s for sure.  And in an age where you’ve got to have a new angle to get your film in front of people and grab their attention, is any negative reaction at least getting your project talked about?

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God of Thunder

A mystery bag - but what could it contain?

Right on schedule, as I hurtle towards my 40th birthday in the Autumn, comes the opening salvo in what promises to be a truly HILARIOUS mid-life crisis.

Whilst I have so far resisted the urge to buy an absurd sports car and a questionable pair of leather trews to accompany it, I have rather caved in on the ‘living out your teenage musician fantasies’ aspect of that regrettable, middle-aged bloke’s triumvirate of woe and bought…

Behold, my mighty axe! And weep in awe as you gaze upon its affordable curves and single pick-up!

A bass guitar.  Yep, I’ve resisted the urge to believe that I’m going to buy an entry-level guitar and be transformed, overnight, into Joe Satriani and instead plumped for an instrument which is, frankly, far more in keeping with my disposition.

Les Claypool of Primus - knows his way around four (or more) strings...

Just a pro-tip for anybody out there of a similar age who’s thinking about taking up music in your dotage – don’t go to YouTube and check out videos of Les Claypool from Primus in full-flight – it’ll only depress you.

Nope, with the best will in the world, I would love to keep going and learn as much as I can on the instrument, but my goal is to be able to play along to songs that I love and maybe jam with mates at some point – musical virtuosity is a boat which may have sailed, I fear, but musical competence is the middle-of-the-road goal that I’m setting out to reach.

If I could play like anybody?

I’ve been to see Melissa Auf Der Maur, and on top of being the most glamorous and unflinchingly eccentric Canadian arty space viking that I’ve had the pleasure to encounter, she’s also a kick-ass bass player and quietly distinguished and singular stylist to be reckoned with.  If I can get to approach being as rhythmically solid and cool as she is, I’ll be quite chuffed.

More progress reports will be with you as and when I, you know, make some actual progress…

 

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