Movie Review – A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman and Liam Neeson

A Million Ways to Die in the West takes place in the old American frontier, in a small town called Old Stump. Albert (MacFarlane) is a sheep farmer, and a coward. After he shirks the challenge of a gunfight his girlfriend Louise (Seyfried) breaks up with him. Albert is heartbroken and wants to win her back, so he challenges her new beau, Foy (Harris) to a gunfight, even though he has no chance of winning. The beautiful Anna, (Theron) arrives in town, and forms an instant bond with Albert after he saves her life. She teaches him how to shoot, but unbeknownst to Albert, her husband is the dastardly cutthroat Clinch Leatherwood (Neeson), who does not take kindly to Albert’s overtures towards his wife.

I’ve liked most of MacFarlane’s work and I loved Ted. I also love Westerns, so I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, it mostly misses the mark. The usual blend of toilet humour and inappropriate jokes can only carry you so far, but when a lot of these fail to land you have to have a decent story to go with it, and that was absent. The plot just wasn’t that interesting and while the actors tried to do the best with what they had, it wasn’t enough. The characters were broad stereotypes and the relationship beats were predictable and cliched. You can tell what’s going to happen as you’ve seen the same thing a hundred times before. I could have forgiven it if the jokes landed, but most of them didn’t work. There were some funny comments and the majority of the slapstick humour did work but that’s about it.

Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman initially started off as a big part of the film but then they were dropped for the most part of it, and it seemed strange to focus on them at the beginning then just forget about them until the end of the film. And I have to say, I don’t think MacFarlane is really leading man material (it’s also difficult to shake the image of Brian). It was directed well, and one thing I love about Westerns is the scenery, and MacFarlane certainly captures the dusty red horizon. I like the fact that he managed to work in a few pop culture references as well, even though it was set in a time before pop culture existed.

Overall thought, it just didn’t quite click. The jokes weren’t there, the story wasn’t there, and most of the characters weren’t interesting, so I can’t really recommend it.

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Movie Review – Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

Director: Peter Strickland

Stars: Toby Jones, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino, Fatma Mohamed, some other people blah.

Warning: This film contains disturbing imagery of violence against fruits and vegetables. It also may cause extreme boredom.

Oh boy. In Berberian Sound Studio, an English sound engineer (Toby Jones) is hired by an Italian studio to work on a film, which he doesn’t realize is actually a graphic horror film. Being in a foreign culture he is extremely awkward and soon inadvertently offends the producer (Fusco) and the director (Mancino). But as he views the material he begins to lose himself in it and eventually resorts to torture to get the appropriate sound effects.

Now, to me, that sounds pretty good. I was looking forward to seeing a depraved sound engineer torturing people in order to make his art the best it could be. However, this film is garbage. It’s a horror but there’s no tension, no creepiness and none of it is scary, it’s just boring. It feels like it’s taking itself way too seriously and at times it veers into pretentiousness.

I will say that I liked seeing the focus on sound, because I think it’s an underrated part of the film industry, but that’s about the only positive thing I can say about the film. There’s just nothing appealing or worthwhile here. It’s not entertaining in the slightest. I’m actually annoyed that I even watched it. It’s only a short film, about an hour and a half, and up until the hour mark there hadn’t been any torture! I feel this would have been much better had it actually embraced the horror aspect and not taken itself so seriously. As it is nothing really happens and all I can say is don’t watch it. There’s nothing here.

Movie Review – Warlords of Atlantis (1978)

Director: Kevin Connor

Stars: Doug McClure, Peter GIlmore, Shane Rimmer, Lea Brodie, Michael Gothard, Hal Galili, John Ratzenberger, Donald Bisset

On an expedition to find Atlantis, a Professor (Bisset), his son Charles (Gilmore) and Greg Collinson (McClure) find a large golden statue, which they bring aboard. However, when the rest of the crew see this they realize that there’s actual treasure, and they betray the adventurers, cutting the chain to the diving bell, which sends them hurtling down into the depths of the sea. The boat is then attacked by a giant squid and is hauled under too, and they all find themselves in the lost world of Atlantis, where they’re greeted by Atmir (Gothard), who welcomes them with civility and assures they’re safe. But they soon realize that if they are too escape Atlantis they must act swiftly and they enlist the help of Delphine (Brodie), who was part of a group of humans that was captured a long time ago. 

Warlords of Atlantis had the ingredients to be a film I was going to really enjoy. There are monsters, adventure, and an exploration of a lost world. However, the sum didn’t quite equal its parts. The story was very thin, in fact, there’s barely a story at all. Almost as soon as they reach Atlantis they’re trying to escape, and there was only a minimal struggle from one person that wanted to stay, and even that only lasted a few moments. Because of this the film felt very rushed and there wasn’t any time to get to a core theme of the story, so the whole thing felt shallow. 

I liked the underwater scenes and the creatures designs were good. The action was done well and I especially liked the effects when Atmir controlled huge bursts of water. I also liked the aesthetic of Atlantis as well. Even the land is bathed in this shimmering gold light that gives a sense of majesty and royalty. The soundtrack helps with this, supporting the visuals with a triumphant score. But when we actually get to a main city the sets are small and they lose the sense of grandeur. There’s also a bizarre piece of the story where the Atlanteans have given humans gills so they can adapt to the atmosphere, and this means that they can never return to the world outside Atlantis again. However, the main characters never undergo this surgery yet they don’t have any problems breathing in the atmosphere. 

The love story is, well, they meet, have a few conversations and that’s it. The only main struggle is when one of the characters gets a chance to advance his mind (little does he know that the Atlanteans have another agenda and are only using him) and I feel that the story is trying to put forward a certain morality but it never quite manages to express it clearly enough. Even the story of the betrayal isn’t developed well, since when they’re in Atlantis it’s not referenced at all. It also seems that the statue they recovered came out of nowhere, since there’s nothing similar seen in the city they visit. I would have liked to have seen more impressive treasures while they were in Atlantis. 

Warlords of Atlantis didn’t really do much for me, despite the promise of the premise. I found it watchable but I didn’t find much substance in the story so it wasn’t very engaging. I would have liked to have seen much more of Atlantis and probably do away with the whole betrayal storyline, but as it is it’s a pretty poor effort. 

Movie Review – A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Stars: Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Naomie Harris, Dylan Moran, Jeremy Northam, Kelly MacDonald, Gillian Anderson, James Fleet and Stephen Fry. 

A Cock and Bull Story is the attempt by Michael Winterbottom to film the said to be unfilmable novel of Tristram Shandy’s life. So the question is how to do you film and unfilmable novel? The answer is – you don’t. Instead, you take the main theme of the book and show it through digressions and interruptions. The film begins backstage, where Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon talk about their roles. Then the film begins, but quickly slips back into the fiction of making the movie where we follow Coogan as he has to deal with his girlfriend and newborn baby, interviews, ramblings about the philosophy of films and shoes that aren’t high enough. 

I’ve been a fan of Steve Coogan for a long time, and after having watched The Trip and The Trip to Italy, where he and Rob Brydon eat at restaurants and try to outdo each other at impressions, I was pleased at finding this film (and it was great when the Al Pacino and Roger Moore impressions come out). It’s very meta and is totally British. I think you have to appreciate British comedy in order to enjoy the film. I haven’t read the book, but from the film I get the impression that it joyously goes off in tangents, which the film does as well. Coogan walks about, being pulled in a hundred different directions and it’s hilarious. 

Stephen Fry only has a small part, but in it he expresses the theme of the book when he says that life is too amorphous to be confined in art, and this shows in the film. The constant cutaways, interruptions, and unsteady narrative are all true-to-life. I can see some people thinking that it’s simply a weird film, but I enjoyed it a lot. It’s very clever and wry, and fans of British comedy will see many familiar faces. 

Movie Review – X-Men Days of Future Past (2014)

Director: Bryan Singer

Stars: Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, Peter DInklage, Ellen Page, Shawn Ashmore, Halle Berre, Daniel Cudmore, Evan Peters, Josh Helmen, Omar Sy, Bingbing Fan, and Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen.

Wow that’s a lot of names.

Wow this is a good movie.

X-Men: Days of Future Past begins in a dystopian future where mutants are hunted by machines called Sentinels. Only a handful of the X-Men are left, and their extinction seems to be inevitable. Professor X unveils a plan to send one person’s consciousness back in time so they can prevent the war before it ever gets started. The only person who can travel back safely is Wolverine, and his task is to unite a younger Professor X and Magneto to stop Mystique before she sets of the chain of events that leads to the horrible future.

There’s a lot to talk about with this film. First of all it’s great that the two casts are brought together like this. I think everyone, no matter how small their part, did a great job (with the possible exception of Jennifer Lawrence, as she just seemed to play, well, Jennifer Lawrence).

I loved seeing the different time periods. The future was really cool with a very dark and grim aesthetic. You could tell just from the visuals that this was a bad place, and honestly it could have been a movie all on its own. It was great to see returning faces, along with some new ones. Blink’s powers looked phenomenal on the big screen and led to some great fight scenes. The Sentinels were brutal and relentless, and this led to some moments where I winced.

The story is set in motion quickly though, and soon we’re back in the 70s where things quickly went bad after X-Men: First Class. I liked seeing Wolverine have to try and convince Charles and Erik to work together after all that happened, and Fassbender and McAvoy once again nail their characters. Fassbender in particular stands out, and while Magneto didn’t have that much to do in the future, he was essential in the past. Quicksilver was a great addition and, as has been reported already, his role will be bigger in the next film. I loved seeing his powers in action and in a film that had such a serious threat he provided moments of levity, and it was nice to see someone actually enjoy their powers for once, as too many heroes now are brooding and don’t seem to actually take joy in what they can do.

There are plenty of revelations as the story progresses and while the plot is complex it never feels overwhelming. The tension ramps up at the climax and leaves you on the edge of your seat. I loved the contrast between the past and the future. At one point Magneto is being heroic in one time and villainous in the other, and to see both sides of the character made for great drama.

This serves as a rewarding film for people who have followed the X-Men franchise since the first film but also provides a springboard for future movies. There are so many cameos, and some are very surprising so I won’t spoil any of them. I think Singer struck a good balance with the cast, as he knew which characters to focus on and which ones to leave as a small appearance, and despite the fact they are a large amount of characters the film doesn’t feel overcrowded.

The only weak link in the cast I feel is Jennifer Lawrence. She gets a lot of plaudits and awards, and I do enjoy her but I never feel that she loses herself in a role. Even with the body suit and make-up I still never saw Mystique, I just saw Jennifer Lawrence. I actually thought Mystique was best when she was impersonating other people. The rest of the cast was great though, especially Fassbender. He has such gravitas as Magneto and I hope he plays the character for a long time. He and McAvoy really do shine, and it’s testament to their ability and the writing that they manage to command the screen when Stewart and McKellan play the same characters in the same film.

There’s so much good stuff in here that I feel like I could gush all day about it, so instead I will talk about a couple of things that didn’t quite work.

One of them is something my friend pointed out. These next paragraph may be considered a soft spoiler to some, so if you don’t want to know anything about the film then skip the next few paragraphs.

Consider yourself warned.

So the key to the Sentinels being able to adapt to mutant powers in the future is said to come from Mystique’s DNA, but this doesn’t really make sense as she only has the power to transform her appearance. I suppose they found a way to adapt her DNA and make it so that the Sentinels could find the perfect way to defeat whatever mutant they were facing, but I would have loved it if Rogue played a part somehow. I’m not sure how it would have worked exactly, but given that Rogue had a big part to play in the first trilogy it would have been fitting had she been an important part in this one too. Perhaps they could have mentioned that Mystique was the first key and Rogue finished it off, because it makes more sense that her powers could be adapted. Saying that, it could have been mentioned that Trask somehow got his hands on Darwin’s DNA.

Speaking of Rogue, they had the perfect opportunity to show her with her usual powers of flight and super-strength in the future, yet that didn’t happen! I was disappointed with that, and it seems that we’ll never get that version of Rogue.

The other thing that didn’t quite make sense is at the end there’s a voice-over talking about the ripples through time. And from what I gathered the sentiment is that you can make ripples, but the actual end result will be the same, a theory espoused by Beast earlier in the film. So I got the feeling that although they had averted the major crisis some things were basically destined to happen, and this was showing Stryker finding Wolverine. However, it’s then revealed that it’s actually Mystique, so I don’t really know where they were going with it because it seems that that part of history is also changing.

Spoilers over.

And finally there’s the end credits scene, which was awesome. My criticism here is with the marketing people though. The title of the next film has already been announced, so when I saw the end credits scene it didn’t have the same impact as it otherwise would have. I wish they had kept the title a secret until this film had been released for a few weeks, as my mind would have been blown. I imagine a lot of moviegoers will have similar feelings to the post-credits scene in Avengers, but people who know more about the X-Men will be excited.

That’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. I loved it and I’m going to try and see it again. I thought the balance between the past and future was right. I only have minor criticisms of the movie. There are so many cool things and little touches for fans to spot. One of my favourite little easter eggs is an episode of Star Trek being played on television, as a Trekkie this made me happy, and I’m sure I won’t be the only one who manages to work out which episode it is from just a few seconds of footage. But the action was great, the scope and scale is epic. It continues the social commentary that is at the heart of X-Men and provides a film that has pretty much everything you could want.

Board Game Review – Marvel Legendary: Paint the Town Red Expansion

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Another ‘small box’ expansion for Legendary, Paint the Town Red, as you can see, is very much Spider-Man focused. It comes with five new heroes, two masterminds, two villain groups and some more schemes. Spider-Man is my favourite superhero and he has one of the best supporting casts, so I was always going to get this expansion. But what does it add to the game and is it worth getting? Let’s find out. 

As with the other expansion (Dark City and Fantastic FourPaint the Town Red introduces some new mechanisms. 

Wall Crawl

This is the big one for the heroes. Almost all of the hero cards in this expansion have this ability, and what it means is that when you recruit a hero you may put it on top of your deck. This can lead to some good combos as many of the cards have abilities that let you draw cards, so you can conceivably recruit a card and pretty much play it immediately. This adds much more of a deck-manipulation element to the game, and it’s important to remember when to use it, because otherwise you won’t make it through to the other cards in your deck! 

Feast

And this is the big one for the villains. This is a fight effect that happens after your fight Carnage or someone from his villain group, and it means you have to KO the top card of your deck. With the deck manipulation element this is quite fun, as you always have to be careful which card you put on top of your deck, and it can also be useful to thin out worthless cards. It can also be incredibly frustrating to have to get rid of a powerful card. 

Now let’s get onto the heroes. It’s funny because although this is a Spider-Man expansion, there isn’t actually Spider-Man in the box. There was Spider-Man in the base set but many people think he is under-powered. In this set we have – 

Symbiote Spider-Man

Scarlet Spider

Black Cat

Spider-Woman

Moon Knight

I’m not sure what Moon Knight is doing here really, but oh well. I like most of the heroes. Black Cat has a fun card called pickpocket, which allows you to reveal the top card of any deck and use the attack printed on that card. This is cool as you can either put a card with a high attack on top of your deck, or pay attention to see what cards other people have. Symbiote Spider-Man is similar to the base set Spider-Man, but more powerful. I like Scarlet Spider; he has some fun cards. Spider-Woman is fun as well. Her rare card allows you to recruit any hero in the HQ for free, so it’s possible to easily get other rare cards, and if you play a card with a Spider-Friends affiliation before you get to add that card to the top of your deck. Moon Knight is quite cool as well, but again he doesn’t really seem to fit in with the others. But with the drawing potential and Wall Crawl it’s possible to cycle through a lot of cards each turn, and when mixed with other heroes it’s possible to get very powerful combinations. 

Now onto the Masterminds and Villains. 

Carnage comes with the Maximum Carnage villain group, and these are focused on feasting. When facing these it’s very important to keep track of your deck, although Carnage’s masterstrike is particularly nasty. When it occurs each player has to KO the top card of their deck, but if Carnage feasts on a 0-cost card then that player has to get a wound. If they hit early they can be awful and you can quickly find yourself being stuck with plenty of wounds. He’s pretty fun to play against though and I like the added risk that comes with Feast. 

Mysterio is the other mastermind and he leads the Sinister Six. Mysterio is one of my favourite villains from the comics and I think he’s vastly underrated. I’m pleased by the rumours that he’s going to make an appearance in the Sinister Six movie. In this game he’s not that powerful, but he is annoying. When a Masterstrike is drawn it gets shuffled in with his Mastermind Tactics, and counts as one, so you’re going to have to defeat him more times than usual. One of the tactics is also annoying as it takes a Masterstrike from each player’s victory piles and puts it back in the Tactics pile. So while he’s not the strongest villain he does prolong the game, and this can be dangerous as the hero and villain decks may run out. 

The Sinister Six have some fun effects as well. Sandman’s strength is equal to the number of villains in the city, which can make him extremely powerful. Chameleon has a cool thing where when you defeat him you get to use the stats and effects of the hero card in the space below the one Chameleon was in. 

The expansion also comes with four new schemes. They’re alright. One of them gives every card in the HQ the wall crawl ability, another one is the Clone Saga, where you have to show two cards with the same name when a scheme twist occurs. That one is pretty fun. There aren’t any that are extremely challenging, it’s just nice to have more variety! 

So what do I think overall? I think at this point any expansion for Legendary is going to be a must-buy because it’s going to add so much more variety to the game, and that’s always a good thing. I like how the heroes work together and also combine with the base set Spider-Man. It’s always fun to draw loads of cards and cycle through your deck quickly, although sometimes it’s hard to summon a lot of power, but this does mean that these heroes work well with the rest of the heroes. Since this is a Spider-Man expansion I do wish we had a more powerful version of Spider-Man rather than Moon Knight, who feels out of place. Spider-Man has always been one of the more powerful heroes in the comics so it’d be nice to get one with some decent attack! 

I like the villains and schemes. Carnage can be really frustrating, and Mysterio is just plain annoying. I think all the schemes and villains work well with each other and also with the other cards in the game. What I love about Legendary is that each expansion can just slot in with the rest of the game and you can pick and choose from everything, and it pretty much all works out well together. The only downside is that my big original box is now almost full up, and I don’t think I’ll be able to fit another expansion in there, so I’ll have to try and sort out a way to store them all when the next expansion hits. But I’m just so in love with this game. The sheer variety is amazing and no two games are ever going to be the same. 

I do hope we get some more henchmen soon though, and it’d be nice to get some more specialist bystanders. I’d really love to see character bystanders as well, like J. Jonah Jameson or Mary-Jane. That’d be cool to flesh out the universe a little bit and give the game even more flavour. Another thing I’d like to see is specialized SHIELD agents, maybe with Agents of SHIELD we could get Coulson, May etc instead of the generic agents and troopers that are in the game at the moment. I do hope that some of the concepts introduce in the expansions are carried over. I’d love to see more teleport (introduced in Dark City), focus, burrowing, cosmic threat, feasting etc. 

All in all it’s a good expansion and one that you must buy. If your budget is stretched and you can’t afford all the expansions then I’d say that Dark City is the one you should get first, but out of this and the Fantastic Four expansion it depends on which characters you like the best. From a gameplay standpoint I think I’d suggest getting Paint the Town Red over Fantastic Four

Book Review – Marilyn Monroe: The Biography by Donald Spoto

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Marilyn Monroe is probably the most iconic woman ever. There has been much written about her and in the years since her death many conspiracy theories and rumors have crept through popular culture and her life has become something of a myth. With all the books out there it’s difficult to know which are authentic and which are just cash grabs by the authors, hoping to make a quick buck in exchange for controversial lies. In this tome, Donald Spoto attempts to dispel some of these fabrications while giving a portrait of the complex, conflicted icon. With access to an unprecedented amount of interviews and archive information Spoto gives an account of the life of Marilyn Monroe. 

Coming into this book I was aware of Marilyn and some aspects of her life, but I’d never delved deeply into the world of Marilyn. I’d seen some movies and I thought this was as good a place as any to start. 

The book is written chronologically and begins by talking about her family history, and moves through to her death and beyond. Ordinarily when reading biographies I don’t like learning about the subject’s direct ancestors as I just want to get on with the person I’m reading about, but with Marilyn there are tragic beginnings that underline the rest of her life. Reading about her childhood was fascinating as shows how her abandonment issues were formed. 

He doesn’t pull any punches either. While the book isn’t a tacky, salacious offering, it does not hide behind innuendo or implication. Sometimes with biographies I get the sense that in researching the subject the author gets lost in the material and ends up glorifying every aspect. Although he obviously has sympathy and affection for his subject, Spoto keeps a distance that allows him to detail every facet of Marilyn’s complex personality. She really was a fascinating character and it’s interesting to see how she was able to be in control in some situations, yet in others she had a complete dependency on certain figures in her life. 

I enjoyed the writing style and at some points Spoto’s frustration with some people came through in the writing. There were many people who took advantage of Marilyn’s dependency issues and Spoto takes them to task. He also highlights some of the disgusting behavior of mental hospitals as well, and how mental illness was misunderstood. 

Every source is listed and a big chunk of the book at the back has all the notes. It’s well-researched and authentic, and throughout the book Spoto corrects misunderstandings or lies which have taken hold over the years. Many of the conspiracy theories concern her death, and towards the end of the book it takes a turn from biography to a murder mystery, as Spoto lets loose on all the misinformation. I found this especially interesting and it lends an even more tragic air to Marilyn’s life. 

I have not read every Marilyn book out there but given the amount of information and the scope of this book I have no qualms with saying that this is the definitive biography of Marilyn Monroe. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interesting in Marilyn, and how she became the icon that shaped the world.

Movie Review – Monster Island (2004)

Director: Jack Perez

Stars: Carmen Electra, Daniel Letterie, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, C. Ernst Harth, Adam West

In Monster Island Carmen Electra is captured by a flying ant while filming a show for MTV. Josh (Letterie) rallies the troops and leads a search party to the heart of the island in order to rescue her.

Just to give you an idea of what this film is like, Adam West plays a character called Dr. Harry Hausen. In no way is this film meant to be taken seriously. At the moment this film has a rating of 3.5 on IMDB and I feel this is undeserved. If you take it at face value then it’s probably accurate, but the film is aware of itself and isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself of the clichés it uses. I’m not saying it’s especially clever or deep but it is a fun romp for people who like the old monster movies.

The effects of the monsters are terrible, and this is awesome! It’s utterly hilarious, but despite the plot and scenery being rubbish the characters are actually pretty good. The actors had good chemistry with each other and they all committed to the material, giving the film life and a spark of energy. The enthusiasm is infectious and it translates to the audience, well, at least I’m assuming that was the intention.

It is a bit dated because I’m sure in the future people who watch this will wonder who Carmen Electra and Nick Carter are, but for now it’s an entertaining tongue-in-cheek movie. Just don’t give it a lot of thought, get a little drunk and just let yourself be amused.

Movie Review – Timecode (2000)

Director: Mike Figgis

Stars: Salma Hayek, Richard Edson, Leslie Mann, Xander Berkeley, Golden Brooks, Julian Sands, loads of other people.

Timecode is an unusual and interesting film that follows the lies and intrigue prevalent on a set of a movie. What makes the film unique is that the screen is split into four parts, so the audience is asked to concentrate on four different screens at once. At first this seems daunting but it’s not as difficult to keep track of the different threads of the story as you may assume. A lot of the characters overlap and it’s clever to see how they interconnect, especially when the same scene is shown from two different perspectives. A note at the end says that each quarter was filmed in one continuous take and the performances were improvised from a skeletal framework, so on a technical level Timecode is astounding. I can’t imagine the work that must have gone into keeping track of everything and making sure that everything was paced correctly. 

However, is it actually a worthwhile film to watch if you disregard the technical innovations? I’m not so sure. Some of the storylines are interesting and the actors certainly commit to the material, but I think if you watched it as a normal film it would be boring. It’s very cliché and most of the interest comes from watching how the different frames intersect across the screen. I think the director was aware of the difficulties in keeping the audience invested, as for a lot of the film two of the four screens are simply showing people sitting around, so really we don’t have to keep track of four frames, just two. At first it seems like it’s going to be a pretentious film concerned with people’s self-absorption and melodramatic problems but as the film progressed I became more engaged with the characters, and it wasn’t as slow or meandering as I initially thought it would be. 

I did love seeing how the stories came together, and there were some hilarious moments, Julien Sands played a masseuse and he had some of the best moments. 

In its execution Timecode is unlike any film I’ve seen. In substance it is okay, but the plot is unoriginal. I’m not sure I’d want to watch every film like this but I’d be interested to see what it would be like to watch a film in this way that wasn’t specifically made to be watched this way. As it is, it’s not demanding to watch and it doesn’t require as much concentration as you might initially think, but it is interesting to watch it and I’d definitely recommend you at least try, as you’ll be unlikely to find anything else like it. 

Movie Review – Godzilla (2014)

Director: Gareth Edwards

Stars: Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Juliette Binoche, Godzilla

Godzilla, king of the monsters roars back into big screens with this effort from Gareth Edwards. After disturbing readings at a power plant, a monster emerges from under the Earth. It begins attacking cities and creates a path of destruction from Japan to America. While the humans are wondering how to deal with this creature that feeds on radiation another monster comes up, a force of nature…Godzilla.

Usually I say more about the story but really, the plot is pretty thin here. In fact, I’m going to start by saying that I’m not even sure I should like this film. The people I went with thought it was terrible and judging from most of the opinions I’ve read a lot of people online share their views. I can understand it because there is a lot to dislike about that film. So let’s start. 

The story is very thin. Basically these monsters emerge and….that’s about it. Humans run around after them to try and contain them but they’re always playing catch up and they don’t ever really stand a chance. But I quite liked this as it shows that we are subject to nature and we may think we are the dominant species, but against nature we are powerless. However, they do try to develop a plot with Ford (Taylor-Johnson) trying to get back to his family, and this is just a snorefest. The film is only two hours but it feels longer because there’s so much build-up and the first hour or so is extremely slow paced. Aside from Bryan Cranston I didn’t find any of the human characters compelling at all. Ken Watanabe looks like he’s in a daze for most of the film, Taylor-Johnson looks completely overwhelmed by it all and Elizabeth Olsen gets nothing to do except scream and look worried. At one point I was worried too because there was a lot of teasing and not enough pleasing, as every time we got a glimpse of Gozilla fighting the other monster the camera cut away to focus on the humans again. 

This happened too often. I liked the fact that they teased Godzilla at first, because it gave his eventual entrance a lot of impact, but after that I think we should have seen more monster-on-monster action. Some parts struck me as stupid as well, both stylistically and story-wise. For example, at one point in Vegas an Elvis song plays for maybe 30 seconds. It seemed so out of place and didn’t really add anything at all. In another scene they find that a monster has escaped from a nuclear waste facility and has left a huge hole in the mountain. Um, okay, are you telling me people really didn’t notice that? (A follow-up scene shows someone looking at binoculars, he doesn’t see anything at first but then his view shifts to the right and the monster comes into view, seriously, come on, the thing is so huge you don’t need binoculars to see it!). 

On top of that the film is repetitive, and although I loved the fights there were too many times when they played the, ‘Oh no, Godzilla is down!’ card to create tension, but then just brought him back up immediately. There was one telling point in the film when Watanbe’s character (the characters were honestly so thin that I only remember a couple of names) urged the army to simply let nature take its course and not to interfere. “Let them fight,” he said, and that echoed my feelings as all I wanted was some monster on monster action. 

Finally it came, and it was glorious. 

The effects and cinematography were excellent. Godzilla was imposing and awesome. His roar sent shivers down my spine and seeing him move was like the Godzilla from the old movies brought to life. I loved every minute that he was on screen and there were parts where I had a huge grin on my face. And even now when I think of those moments I still get a kick out of it and as bad as the rest of the film was Godzilla comes in and makes the film for me. 

Aside from Godzilla, this film is bad. I imagine that it will be getting a lot of criticism in the coming weeks and deservedly so. But seeing Godzilla up on the screen is such a cool sight and his introduction is handled well, aside from a little too much teasing. The effects are excellent and I felt satisfied by the conflict we did get. The human stuff was boring, but the Godzilla stuff was immense.