Saturday, 31 July 2010

The Saturday Screen Shot #4

Here's another classic moment from the world of movies:

Shot from the Screen:

The "chestburster" appearing from Kane's twitching body

Shot from the Scene:
Kane writhes in pain, there is a loud crack from his ribcage and then a small alien bursts out of his chest, spraying blood everywhere. It screams a shrill, horrible noise and then makes a swift exit, leaving the rest of the crew of the Nostromo in total shock. A truly awesome and memorable scene

Friday, 30 July 2010

Happy Birthday Arnie!

Arnold Schwarzenegger turns 63 today! To celebrate the action legend with the best one-liners and puns in the business, here are some of his classic quotes put together in an amazing video on YouTube. Enjoy! :

Looking forward to seeing him on our screens again next month in the action star ensemble The Expendables. Many Happy Returns Governator!

Monday, 26 July 2010

What the Fellowship of the Ring did next...

Frodo - Elijah Wood went on to appear in both violent adult-themed films (Green Street, Sin City) and has provided voices for animations (Happy Feet, 9). He will next be seen (or rather, heard) in Happy Feet 2 and the Legend of Spyro film.

Sam - Sean Astin has since appeared in numerous TV shows, including 24 and the adaptation of Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic. Upcoming projects include The Witches of Oz 3D.

Merry - Dominic Monaghan has been a regular on the TV shows Lost and FlashForward. He had a small but memorable role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and can next be seen in Soldiers of Fortune alongside Sean Bean, Christian Slater, Ving Rhames and James Cromwell.

Pippin - Billy Boyd appeared in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and smaller UK films including On a Clear Day and The Flying Scotsman. He is also due to appear in The Witches of Oz 3D.

Legolas - Orlando Bloom continued to pick physical action roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Troy and Kingdom of Heaven. He will soon be seen in the new Three Musketeers movie.

Boromir - Sean Bean has been very busy! Just a few of the films he has appeared in are: Troy, The Island, Flightplan, Silent Hill, The Hitcher and more recently, Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief. He also has lots lined up including Soldiers of Fortune with Dominic Monaghan and Shadows from the Sky with John Rhys-Davies.

Aragorn - Viggo Mortensen has starred in A History of Violence, Eastern Promises and The Road. Next up for him is A Dangerous Method where he will play Sigmund Freud opposite Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender.

Gimli - John Rhys-Davies has appeared in nearly 40 projects since completing The Lord of the Rings, most of them TV episodes. He has 10 more lined up, including a reunion with Sean Bean in Shadows from the Sky and with Billy Boyd in The Lion Inside.

Gandalf - Ian Mckellen went on to appear in The Da Vinci Code and X-Men: The Last Stand and lent his vocal talents to Flushed Away, Stardust and The Golden Compass. Exciting times lie ahead, with The Hobbit as his next project.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

The Saturday Screen Shot #3

Back from my summer holiday so here's another movie screen shot for you all;

Shot from the Screen: The Usual Suspects

Screenshot: The five main characters in a police line-up

Shot from the Scene: Everyone has been brought into the police station and they are now taking part in a line-up. They are each told to step forward and say the line: "Hand me the keys, you fucking cocksucker." According to IMDB, "The line-up scene was scripted as a serious scene, but after a full day of filming takes where the actors couldn't keep a straight face, director Bryan Singer decided to use the funniest takes." A really great scene, and this image has now become iconic

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Review: Bram Stoker's Dracula

This film is based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel and was adapted by American screenwriter James V. Hart. It takes a few liberties with the book, including a lot more romantic scenes. However, it does retain certain elements of the novel that are usually emitted from vampire films in general, including the idea that Dracula can move about during daylight hours. The notion of vampires being destroyed by sunlight was invented by motion pictures. It was first used in Nosferatu (1922) and has been continued in films such as Blade and Underworld as well as TV series’, most famously, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, it isn’t part of vampire folklore at all. Original lore stated that vampires only became powerful after sundown and that during the day they could still move around if they wished, they just didn’t have any supernatural abilities.

The romantic elements that were added to the film result in it feeling far more like a doomed Gothic love story than a horror. The beginning is reminiscent of Romeo & Juliet, if Juliet had chosen to become a vampire rather than kill herself. The tag line for the film is simply ‘Love Never Dies’. What the film effectively does is humanise the famous blood-sucking, murderous villain. As a result, I often found myself sympathising with Dracula’s plight. This sympathy may also have been caused by some truly awful acting by Keanu Reeves, playing Jonathan Harker. His terrible English accent and wooden performance left me struggling to identify with the man who is the supposed hero of the story and wishing his soon-to-be bride would ditch him for the far more appealing Dracula.

The other actors in the film are far more effective. Winona Ryder does a decent job as a likeable Mina Murray, Anthony Hopkins’ Van Helsing is a quirky, eccentric Professor with a wry sense of humour and Gary Oldman does brilliantly with his roles as Vlad, Dracula old and young, as well as some monstrous versions. I think his performance as the older Count is the most successful, with his playful yet sinister demeanour; “You will, I trust, excuse me if I do not join you. But I have already dined, and I never”

Bram Stoker’s Dracula has many plus points. Above all it is a very stylishly directed film. Francis Ford Coppola said the film pays homage to others of the genre, pointing out the shot of Dracula rising out of his coffin (a homage to F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922)). Also, the blood splashing onto Lucy’s bed from the sides of the room is a homage to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) and Lucy vomiting blood all over Van Helsing is a homage to William Friedkin’s The Exorcist (1973).

The film also benefits from some great sets, costumes and make-up. In fact, everything you see on-screen is impressive. It does suffer slightly in terms of story though. The basic plot is quite simple but there is a lot of switching back and forth between London and Transylvania, there are many different sub-plots and the film is just too long. I do imagine it would be fairly difficult to develop a coherent narrative from the novel though, as it is made up of letters and diary entries from the various characters. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is very heavy on spectacle but rather light on substance. If you’re looking for a horror film with vampires, you may want to look elsewhere. However, if you’re looking for a love film with vampires, this may be just for you.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Philip K. Dick movie adaptations

Philip K. Dick is one of my favourite sci-fi writers. The films that have been adapted from his novels and short stories have generated over $1 billion in world-wide box office and ancillary revenue. Most famous of all is probably Blade Runner (1982), adapted from "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". Other films also based on his works include Total Recall (1990), Screamers (1995), Minority Report (2002), Paycheck (2003), A Scanner Darkly (2006) and Next (2007). I am really looking forward to seeing the upcoming The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Terence Stamp. In the near future I am hoping to rent these films again so I can re-watch them, I might also re-read the stories at the same time and then write reviews incorporating how well I think they have been adapted. In the meantime I shall leave you with the trailer for The Adjustment Bureau...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Review: Air Force One

‘Harrison Ford is the President of the United States’ - if that tagline fills you with dread, chances are you probably aren’t going to enjoy Air Force One. However, if you grin at the thought of the great American action star playing the President as a tough, heroic, Medal of Honor winner, beating up the terrorists who dare to take control of his plane, then you’ll love this action-packed thrill ride.

Upon leaving Moscow, Air Force One is boarded by a group of Russian hijackers and the President is rushed to an escape pod in the cargo hold. But what the hijackers don’t know is that he refused to leave and while his staff and family are held captive, he endeavours to rescue them single-handedly. Consequently, what ensues is your typical ‘lone hero against a group of criminals’ scenario (think Die Hard or Under Siege). The terrorists conveniently prowl around the plane individually and he is able to pick off a few before being rumbled.

This rather tired formula is given a new lease of life and it works mainly because of Harrison Ford’s star power. Ford inspires confidence; he does the right thing no matter how difficult, the audience know this and have that expectation before the film even starts. If it was an unknown actor then we wouldn’t know how he’d respond in certain situations and what the outcome was going to be but here we know that American hero Harrison Ford is going to save the day. This is basically, ‘what would happen if terrorists hijacked a plane and Indiana Jones was on board?’ or Jack Ryan, or any number of the characters he has previously played.

Praise must go to Gary Oldman as Ivan Korshunov, leader of the group of terrorists. He excels at playing the bad guy but I think this character is something special. Usually the villain’s motives aren’t explained, they are de-humanised and the audience feels no sympathy for them. But far from being a crazy lunatic, he makes Korshunov human, which can be quite unsettling. There are times when his persuasive rhetoric (combined with a convincing Russian accent) makes you wonder if he isn’t just a regular guy who was pushed to the very edge and foolishly chose to resort to extreme methods. In using the argument, “You, who murdered a hundred thousand Iraqis to save a nickel on a gallon of gas, are going to lecture me on the rules of war?” he makes the audience see the Americans, and by association The President, in an unflattering light. Korshunov is a powerful character, and pitting him in opposition to the President adds an extra interesting facet to the film.

The bottom line is that Air Force One is completely unbelievable. It’s a fantasy story about the President saving the day. It’s a little longer than I like my action movies but it held my attention. There are some great action sequences; the pilot’s urgent attempt to land the plane at a German airbase near the start of the film is a remarkable set piece. My advice is don’t think about it too much because if you start to examine the plot you will find gaping holes and you’re likely to realise it’s all a bit silly. But it’s a very enjoyable film if taken for what it was meant to be; a summer blockbuster, a popcorn movie, a film you can sit down and enjoy without taxing your brain. So, just go with it and enjoy the ride, or should that be flight?

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