Monthly Archives: July 2012

New “Skyfall” trailer kills Bond, takes names.

Well, it’s one way to wrong-foot the audience…

OMG – SPOILERZ!

There’s a new “Skyfall” trailer, everyone – go lookit!

Not really – the bait-and-switch gambit of apparently sending James Bond to sleep with the fish community in the new trailer for “Skyfall” is quickly undone when it becomes clear that Bond’s mission this time around is to sleep with French starlets and destroy foreign locales recover an in-the-wild secret hard drive containing the details of every MI6 agent before it goes to the highest bidder.

New Bond girl, Berenice Marlohe, not long for this world if the on-screen fate of previous Bond girls is any indicator…

Where the previous teaser trailers, IMAX pimping and Olympic-piggybacking tv spots have played up the psychological drama aspect of the new, Sam Mendes directed Bond as if to indicate that this won’t be a glum shoot-em-up like the previous, unloved (but actually not that bad) “Quantum of Solace“, this trailer gets down to business by including some pretty major action and one classic prop with a biometric twist.

A tech guy who’s wearing a nerdy parka? The invention of these film makers! Where do they get their crazy ideas?!

New Q, Ben Whishaw shows up and we get our best look yet at the horror which is big bad Javier Bardem‘s blonde hairstyle.  I’m assuming that the sketchiness therein indicates that it forms some kind of secret weapon, perhaps for employment during the grand finale (perhaps it assumes some kind of sentient life and goes in for the kill when his owner is dispatched?).

The reassuring sight of James Bond effing up a vehicle and still finding time to sort his cuffs out. And all’s well with England anew…

“Skyfall” opens in the UK in October and the US in November.

 

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“Silent Hill: Revelation” – misty gloom + dead nurses x pyramid heads = fun times!

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Remember Christophe Gans‘ adaptation of Konami’s survival horror game, Silent Hill“?  It was – by crikey! – a half-decent video game movie which captured much of the atmosphere of the series and was mostly successful as a movie.

In news that will surprise nobody, this Halloween sees a sequel, Silent Hill: Revelation“, which promises more murderous faceless nurses, pyramid head psychos, omnipresent urban decay and solid character actors (Alice Krige, Deborah Kara Unger, Kim Coates) doing their best ‘creepy grown-up’ acting whilst rounding on Aussie actress Adelaide Clemens (who’s the spitting image of Michelle Williams).

Yep, that Michelle Williams cloning process is coming along nicely…

The movie’s out on October 26th in the US and in perfect time for Halloween in the UK.  I’m going to be seeing this at some point, as British director Michael J Bassett has previously brought us the very fine likes of “Deathwatch” and “Solomon Kane”, fun genre pictures which are twenty times more enjoyable than the last few Michael Bay movies.  Mind you, so is an ingrowing toenail, so that’s not exactly a recommendation.

Still, it all looks creepy, desperately wrong and is in the new-fangled three dimensions that all the kids are enjoying, so they have my five pounds for a matinée screening.

I’m such a cheap date…

Oh, this isn’t going to end well…

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Putin’s New Noise

Pussy Riot – Russian Art Punk Superheroines.

Clearly, I’ve not kept abreast of world news – if I had, the treatment of Russian art-punk collective Pussy Riot by Darth Putin would have moved me to write this post previously.  Your usually scheduled daily helping of power metal, Christopher Nolan worship and complaints about video game storytelling will be along anon.

Anyone reading the Guardian‘s story on the issue – feminist art punk band play impromptu performance in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ The Saviour and things go south rapidly – with a long enough memory may recall the Riot Grrl movement of the early nineties, where similarly politicised indie kids used all kinds of situationist techniques to underscore their musical rage but didn’t face the prospect of seven years in jail, as far as I recall.

How things change.  Or don’t.

I don’t suppose I should feel any surprise that Vladimir Putin‘s zero tolerance response to criticism of his dictatorship presidency is to round-up the geeky art students responsible and sling them in the clink, but the brazenness of his actions is sufficient to raise an eyebrow in the West, where our freedom to yell slogans and strum two chords is mostly protected and unlikely to get us into any serious trouble with the law.

Seriously? A trial with a potential jail sentence of seven years for playing a few songs in a church?  It’s fair to say that those of us who have reasonable freedom of speech, assembly and dissent in our countries don’t realise just how fortunate we are when we see people protesting on TV and being arrested (or worse) as a matter of course.

I’m going to try to follow this case for future reference – now that the celebrated Twitter Trial in the UK has been sensibly settled in favour of the daft bugger whose off-the-cuff tweet mobilised South Yorkshire police and the head of the DPP against him, it behoves us all to keep an eye on those in power who would seek to use the full weight of the law against any and all criticism of their decisions.

Never trust a politician, kids.

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Run To The Hills!

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Tired of Olympic hype?  Try living in the UK.  Your humble (and normally quite reasonable) blogger has had it up to his Musketeer-style chin beard with all things sporting after a year or so of relentless build-up to London 2012 and would happily go into suspended animation until the whole thing is over.

Go Jess!

As a dyed-in-the-wool, adopted Sheffielder, I obviously wish Jessica Ennis well in her heptathlon campaign but I really would rather ignore the vast majority of the Olympics – a feat made quite challenging by the approximately 906 channels being devoted by the BBC to the imminent hostilities  glorious sporting spectacle about to unfurl.

To distract those of you who can’t get that excited by athletes doing things slightly more quickly than they did them previously, take in the joyful image above of Iron Maiden‘s mascot Eddie, as originally found on the Metal Hammer website.

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Perspective? Common Sense? Not here, folks.

Just when you thought that post-Aurora shooting over-sensitivity couldn’t get any worse, comes the news that Summit, the studio behind the “Step Up” series of sugar-sweet, street dance films were seriously considering delaying this Friday’s release of the fourth instalment, “Step Up: Revolution”.

Yep, that’s what terrorists look like these days – beware the smiling kids in their Hollister garb!

Their reason?  A sequence in the flick features dancers wearing gas masks invading a swanky party and threatening guests with gas grenades, per a delightfully hysterical story on Deadline Hollywood today, and the studio met on Wednesday to discuss their options with reference to delaying the release or dropping the scene entirely.

That’s a film opening on Friday this week, remember.  Check out the trailer here at YouTube.

Yep, that’s a film bound to strike associative trauma into the hearts of anybody who goes to see it.  Or, perhaps, it’s a silly and energetic musical which is the modern-day equivalent of the ‘Let’s Do The Show Right Here!’ feel-good efforts which used to star Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland back in the day.  Not a call to arms for anybody other than kids who watch Glee or want to try out for their local amateur dramatic society.

Are we going to be banning hip-hop inspired street dance in public, now, lest rogue mobs of popping-and-locking teens terrify soccer moms into discharging their concealed Glocks into all and sundry, or should we get some frigging clue about what the real problem actually is?

Or would that just be unconscionably eccentric?

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“Gangster Squad” release postponed – good taste or overreaction?

 

In a reaction to Friday’s tragic events at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, word has it that Warner Brothers will be postponing the September 2012 release of their 40s and 50s set crime drama, “Gangster Squad” to January 2013.  Anybody who’s seen the Jay-Z scored trailer for the film may remember the bit where a cinema audience is gunned down by merciless criminals and realise quickly that this sequence now has as much chance of remaining in the movie as a scene in “The Expendables 2” where everybody sits around and discusses their feelings.

Whilst I understand the reticence to include any scene which reminds a potential audience of the shooting deaths in Colorado, it occurs to me that this delay is due less to any sudden attack of conscience than a desire to maximise the box office potential of the film by excising any particularly troublesome elements lest they be ceased upon by a media eager to jump on any potential controversy and run it into the ground.

Going back to the trailer – linked here (it features the scene now being excised from the film, so approach with caution if you’re sensitive to this kind of imagery) – it’s hard to see how taking one arguably contentious scene will do much to alter the tone of the film, which seems to revolve largely around sexy guys in stylish period attire punching, shooting and shagging their way across a lawless 40s Los Angeles.  Taking out one scene which has unfortunate echoes in real-life events hardly changes the fact that much of their trailer promises the likes of It Boy Ryan Gosling shooting slightly less handsome people in the face in the name of ne0-frontier justice, after all.

I confess, I find Warner Brothers’ knee-jerk desire to pull scenes from their film to be entirely disingenuous and quite insulting – they greenlit this film, after all, and let director Ruben “Zombieland” Fleischer do his thing.  Did they somehow not read the script?  Are they suddenly surprised to have a film on their hands which has Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin‘s heroic off-the-books cops brutally murdering gangsters?  This is, I take it, the same Warner Brothers who built much of their early success on gangster flicks and lurid crime dramas?

In the end, it’s all about cash, not caring about the sensibilities of victims of atrocity.  Controversy sometimes equals full tills, but just as often induces people to avoid your product because it offends some weird moral sensibility which gets uptight about violence in films but sees no problem at all in having a gun (or two) in the house.  As ever we see that popular culture is the real villain in cases like this, not the ease of purchasing high-powered firearms and ammunition for any sociopathic nut-job with a psychotic manifesto and a nihilistic worldview.

 

 

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Fozzy’s Autumnal Sins

 

Marvellous purveyors of metallic rock excellence, Fozzy.

In other news, unrelated to delightful dogs and fine cities, excellent US rock band Fozzy are touring the UK with Soil this Autumn…and they’re not really playing near me.  This is clearly a heavy-handed attempt on the behalf of excellent touring rock bands to keep me at home for at least part of November.  For shame, sir!

I shall have to content myself with listening to their new record, “Sin and Bones”, which Century Media releases on August 13th.  If you’re thinking that you recognize Fozzy‘s lead singer, that’s probably because you’ve been a fan of WWE and all that wrassling carry-on – yes, that’s Chris Jericho rocking the mic and a fine job he does of it too.

 

 

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Big Dog…Small Bed.

 

Hagrid, our lovely dog, politely annexing his friend Doris’ doggy bed during a recent visit. She’s quite a bit smaller than he is…

On a related note, Mrs Rolling Eyeballs takes you on a journey into our daily routine over at her blog today.

Yes, incredulous readers, there is a Six A.M. every day – and it sometimes looks like the pictures that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs has so taken.  It’s prime dog-walking time for us as fewer people are out taking their pets for a perambulation and it helps us to wake up before heading off to a day of doing something or other in an office.

Plus, you’ve got to let a big guy do his sniffing – he’s quite fond of it.

 

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Bruce Dickinson – voice of reason?

Bruce Dickinson, of Iron Maiden, at Newcastle Metro Arena – via Journallive.co.uk

If you needed another reason to love Iron Maiden – other than their superlative back catalogue, Janick Gers’ manic metal pixie stage presence, Nicko McBrain’s deranged fizzog, the three-pronged guitar attack, that fellow on bass and lovely, delightful Eddie – here’s one that will ring true with anybody who’s been to a gig in the last five years or so:

Vocalist Bruce Dickinson berates texting fan in audience.

Who hasn’t wanted to do just that (without being removed from the venue and abruptly deposited on the pavement outside by a zero tolerance bouncer)? I complained about this practice when I went to see Dutch symphonic metallers Delain earlier in the spring and it really, honestly boggles my mind to see three or four teenagers standing around in huddles updating their Facebook statuses and sending texts whilst the band are playing, apparently oblivious to the show happening around them.  Are people so utterly obsessed by their mobile devices and so addicted to social media that they can’t experience social situations without having to furiously input their every notion into their phones lest it be lost to eternity?

You’ve paid for your ticket – shouldn’t you, y’know, watch the gig?

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – film review

“I once caught a bat THIS BIG

I still remember the slightly dazed feeling that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I had after going to the Vue cinema in Sheffield to see Christopher Nolan‘s dizzying, operatic “Batman Begins” sequel, “The Dark Knight“, in summer 2008.

It was a Sunday lunchtime, Batman was in the wind after sorting out the Harvey Dent situation and there was this distinct sense between us of having just been put through the wringer.  Had we just been entertained for two and a half hours or been through a punishing, sensory obstacle course?

The same feeling struck me after emerging from this morning’s screening of the third movie in Nolan’s series based on the DC comics character, The Dark Knight Rises“.

It needs to be said that this is an excellent film – a worthy cherry on top of the proverbial trilogy cake – but it’s an exhausting one which demands a lot of the audience, in terms of memory and ability to not visit the bathroom several times (forego the Super Gulp cup at your concessions stand – you will miss stuff if you have to visit the facilities during the film).  There’s no walking into this film green – you really do have to refresh your memory of “Batman Begins”, as it plays a significant part in proceedings, and it helps to have an appreciation of Harvey Dent, too.  It’s not as though there’s an exam paper to sit as you leave, but it will help to have some recollection of how our hero got to this point in this life and to know who the characters are, as introductions are sketchy at best. This is particularly true if the people in your party are not quite as geeky as the rest of us – you’ll be explaining a lot to them and missing things yourself.

The scale of the enterprise is what surprised me – we’ve all read those pre-release puff-pieces which seek to convince that “Summer Blockbuster X” sets the bar incredibly high and that we’re going to see things that we’ve never seen on-screen before – usually this translates as ‘canned special effects sequence marginally more entertaining than the one in that film we were conned into seeing last year’.  With “The Dark Knight Rises” I actually believe the hype for once – I’ve can’t recall having seen a film which has action set-pieces of the scale and duration seen during the last act in this film.  Big isn’t necessarily better, but Nolan’s taut command of the toy box at his disposal on “TDKR” makes the likes of “Transformers 3” seem even more weightless and juvenile than it already was, despite both films dealing in similar scenes of extended metropolitan destruction.

The performances match up to the apocalyptic imagery on display – Christian Bale is excellent and fully justifies Nolan’s initial decision to cast him with the rounded, nuanced turn he delivers here.  He’s beaten, bloodied and bowed by the demands and toll that his by-night vigilante campaign has taken on his body and mind – this is a Batman who wants out from the life he’s created for himself and finds that a wider world has something quite different to say about that.

Leaving on a jet plane? Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises”

He’s more than complemented by Anne Hathaway, who defies a million dim-witted fanboy forum posts by making the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman her own – slinky, sarcastic, haunted, defiant, conflicted, capable and able to walk in heels that even Lady Gaga might deem a bit complicated, this is a Catwoman quite distinctively different to those we’ve seen before in Bat-Cinema, TV and games.  There’s an exchange of dialogue between her and Joseph Gordon Levitt‘s idealistic policeman mid-way through the film which goes past beyond the sexy cat burglar archetype to hint at Kyle’s essential dilemna in this telling of the tale – she’s brilliant at what she does, but what she does puts her in situations which can’t help but keep her in the mire that she’s trying to escape.

Best Catwoman ever?  Your mileage may vary, but I thought that she was wonderful and that Hathaway did splendid work in the role.  Even the ears worked.  Kind of.

Tom Hardy is fantastic as the force of nature Bane – he’s got layers of character which haven’t been hinted at in the pre-publicity and their unpicking on-screen is a delight, giving this unaccountably posh berserker man-mountain an array of quotable and – get this – easy to understand dialogue.  It’s a strong actor indeed who can command the screen and hold the attention with much of his face replaced by a high-tech dog muzzle and Hardy manages to do it consistently – he’s helped, of course, by his imposing physical presence.  The words ‘Brick’ and ‘Outhouse’ come to mind.

Is this a good ending to the Nolan trilogy?  I would say so – but it’s not without some dodgy moments.  I thought that we were going to have a retread of  the second film’s “Which boat shall we blow up? The one with the rapists and murderers or the ‘Ickle Kittens and Orphans’ cruise?” moral non-quandry at one point, but we got past it swiftly.  There’s some fairly on-the-nose dialogue to contend with, too – you may wonder if Bane’s job is to defeat Batman or engage in some kind of unorthodox, “The Game”-style Billionaire Life Coach programme with him, given the steady stream of tough love aphorisms he delivers in their scenes together.   And Hans Zimmer‘s score is so overwrought that any metalhead listening will wonder why they didn’t save a few bob and just sling some Dimmu Borgir on the soundtrack – the aural, cumulative effect is noticeably similar.

I will want to revisit this film, but I suspect that a little distance will certainly help me to appreciate it all the more – it’s big with a capital B and such an endeavour deserves to have a little gulf between viewings, I think.  If “The Avengers” was like the best chocolate cake ever (with extra sprinkles), “The Dark Knight Rises” is like a delicious pasta dish with such a rich tomato sauce that you can’t face any other course afterwards.

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