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Iron Man 3

The most highly anticipated Disney film of the year, fair enough that doesn’t mean as much as it used to, is undoubtedly Iron Man 3. It says something that the once mighty Disney had to buy up Marvel in order to get back on the mainstream radar, still between Marvel, Pixar and Star Wars we’re at last talking about them again.

After the events of Marvel Avengers Assemble, which was the unwieldy European title for The Avengers, and his uncanny impersonation of Jesus – which must have really annoyed the American religious right what with all his drinking and whoring – Tony Stark can’t sleep. In fact, although I’m not a doctor of any description, I’d go so far as to say he has PTSD. This is obviously troubling and he’s thrown himself into his work, as the multitudes of new armour variants filling his basement. Meanwhile a new threat has appeared, calling himself The Mandarin, perpetrating untraceable bombings across the world.

Let’s be perfectly clear, when I say this film was highly anticipated, I mean I was looking forward to it. I loved the first Iron Man, thought Iron Man 2‘s flaws were caused by the rest of the Marvel movie universe hijacking the running time and was more than convinced that the best thing about The Avengers was Tony Stark. He’s the rock star of the Marvel universe who loves fast cars, classical rock, quality alcohol and sarcastic one-liners, who couldn’t be a fan of that?

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    Evil Dead

    Remakes, depending on your point of view they can be the worst thing ever to happen to a film or alternately a great tool to expose audiences that would otherwise not look at an older film. I fall firmly into the first camp, and damn all the people too stupid to understand that a film that was released before they were born can be outstanding. Even so I took a nice open mind into the remake/reboot of Evil Dead.

    Directed by Fede Alvarez and produced by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert G. Tabert, the plot will be numbingly familiar to anyone who’s seen the original Evil Dead. A bunch of teenagers (or close approximations thereof) end up in a cabin in the woods, this time to help the protagonist through a drugs intervention in a cold turkey manner. They find a book wrapped in barbed wire and bound in suspiciously pale leather, and would you believe that shenanigans ensue?

    I think it goes without saying that you can’t be a big film fan without loving, or at least having a soft spot for the originals. I did try to enjoy it, I went with an open mind wanting to enjoy the film. I was encouraged by the fact that Alvarez said publicly and categorically that there was not one single frame use of CGI in the film.

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      Olympus Has Fallen

      Olympus Has Fallen is 2013 action film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt. It stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman and was released on the 17th of April in the UK and nearly a month earlier on the 22nd of March in the USA.

      Secret Service Agent Mike Banning (Butler) is stuck in a desk job, a far cry from when he was head of the President’s personal protection detail. Removed from his position for doing his job, and letting the First Lady die in the process he feels impotent doing paperwork all day. That changes when the White House is attacked by terrorists who have infiltrated the South Korean Prime Minister’s security detail. Using highly trained personnel the terrorists take President Benjamin Asher hostage in the bunker underneath the White House. With all other security personnel slain, Banning is forced to wage a one man campaign to rescue the hostages while Speaker of the House Allan Trumbull (Freeman) has to decide whether or not to accede to the terrorists’ demands having been made Acting President of the United States of America.

      Let’s be clear, this isn’t an original concept. It is just Die Hard in The West Wing. That’s all it is. But there have been films with a lot less of a concept than this, we got a whole film out of the game of Battleship. The thing is that these are two very divergent concepts, The West Wing is high budget character drama and Die Hard… isn’t.

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        V/H/S

        V/H/S is a 2012 horror anthology movie of six independently created horror stories. Written and directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and Radio Silence, a directing quartet, the film had a backwards release schedule. Premièring at Sundance 2012 it then was released on demand before getting a theatrical release.

        Shot entirely using the found footage gimmick, the film has five distinct films within a sixth framing narrative. From zombies, vampires and stalkers to haunted houses and aliens, just about every facet of the modern horror genre is represented here. With the whole film running to nearly two hours, each segment is given 15 to 20 minutes to try and terrorise the audience with its own particular flavour of horror.

        It’s entirely in found footage, which will be its first stumbling block for most people. The found footage genre can range from the very good, Cloverfield and Chronicle, to the very bad, I’m looking at The Blair Witch Project with extreme disapproval here. As with the narratives, whether it works or not comes down to the individual segment. In some it works very well but in others it’s painfully obvious that a standard method of shooting would have been far superior.

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          Gangster Squad is a 2012 cop action thriller starring Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn. It was written by Will Beall and directed by Ruben Fleischer.

          In post-World War Two Los Angeles, the mob led by Mickey Cohen (Penn, who I swear is wearing a Madonna mask that’s been melted to his face) runs the city. With every institution riddled with corruption, the police chief turns to the only honest cop he knows, John O’Mara (Brolin). With the remit to do whatever is necessary to break Cohen’s grip on the city, O’Mara recruits a group of honest misfits and begins a shadowy war with the mob.

          You know how they say there’s no such thing as a good videogame movie? Personally I disagree because discounting Sean Bean’s Yank accent, Silent Hill was rather good and I thought the first Resident Evil film wasn’t all that bad. Gangster Squad takes a different tack however, instead of adapting a videogame it feels like they’ve just taken the script for a game and just made a movie instead.

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            Texas Chainsaw 3D is the latest in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre franchise, or so you’d think. As well as doing away with the ‘Massacre’ section of the title it also wipes out all films except the 1974 original and exists as a direct sequel. It stars Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Thom Barry and Paul Rae, and was written by Kirsten Elms, Adam Marcus and Debra Sullivan, and directed by John Luessenhop.

            Picking up directly from the end of the 1974 classic Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is recapped for us in the opening sequence, we start with a standoff between Leatherface’s family and local law enforcement. This is all going well until a local mob shows up, shoots up the house and then burns it to the ground. Finding the baby of the family after the blaze, one of the mob chooses to raise her as his own. Fast forward twenty something years and this young woman is told her real grandmother has just died and she has to go and sign for her house. Taking a trip to Texas with her friends, she takes possession of a huge property that just happens to have a large man who wears peoples’ skinned faces living in the basement. Shenanigans ensue.

            The film is 90 minutes of just what you’d expect, messy murders that sometimes involve chainsaws. However the filmmakers decided they were going to be clever about this film, or at least try to be, but they fundamentally fail. The first hour is a modern version of your standard horror movie of this type, in fact it’s effectively a remake of the original. For the last half an hour though, they try to invert the notion of the franchise by asking in an unsubtle fashion, “Who really is the bad guy?”

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              Les Misérables

              Les Misérables, or as it is otherwise known An Australian Wolverine in Paris, is the 2012 adaptation of the musical of the same name. It stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne, and was directed by Tom Hooper.

              The story’s either blindingly obvious or completely unknown depending on what your opinion of musicals is. If, like me, you believe them to be the bastard child of live gigs and stage plays that should have been aborted long before the turn of the millennium, then you won’t have a clue. Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, played by Wolverine, who is a convict that goes on the run from Inspector Javert, played by Maximus Decimus Meridius. On the way he runs into Fantine, played by Catwoman, who has worked herself into an early grave trying to provide for her child. Valjean takes it on himself to raise the child, and with the background of one of the many revolutions they had in France (why they couldn’t just have sporting events to pass the time like the rest of us, I don’t know) Valjean and Javert are forced into their final confrontation.

              Shall we start with the obvious? You see this sentence? It holds more a tune being completely mute than Russell Crowe ever can. Frankly if you forget about the plot and just view it as the audition stages of those pop reality shows, just with Hollywood A listers, you’ll have such a great time laughing at Crowe. I don’t mind saying that as he doesn’t know where I live so he can’t throw a phone at me.

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                Yes, it’s that day everyone with a modicum of common sense has been dreading. It’s the 21st of December 2012, which according to some people means we’re all going to die. Time for some facts and logic…

                These people are correct, we are all going to die. However we’re not all going to die today, it just isn’t going to happen. Eventually, due to the passage of time, accidents, illness and so forth everyone currently alive will die. None of these deaths will be due to the date today.

                I feel I should explain for the two people on the planet who don’t know, the Mayan Long Calendar comes to an end today and so idiots who crept into the gene pool when the lifeguard was on his break think the planet will explode, zombies will appear, Galactus will eat us or other such civilisation ending events will occur. These people are wronger than disco, but because we’re tired of hearing about people being massacred by their own governments this rubbish seems to be deemed newsworthy.

                The Mayan calendar ends. So what? Every single year my calender ends on the 31st of December. That doesn’t mean the world ends on that day, it just means I need a new one for the 1st of January. That’s the entire point behind this pointless hysteria. They’ll try and mitigate this by saying the Maya predicted when they’d be wiped out by European conquest, neatly forgetting the obvious, the Maya are still around. Seriously, they’re a culture that has over seven million living members, they aren’t gone and they aren’t panicking in the slightest. Probably for the same reason that none of us panic when we throw out our old calendars every year.

                However there are still going to be some people who won’t listen to reason. For these people I recommend you not hit them with something heavy until the 22nd, but instead have some fun. Declare yourself the messiah, and say that because you’re benevolent you’ll ensure there’s a 22nd tomorrow. If you know enough stupid people that are worried about this rubbish you might have yourself a nice cult on the 22nd, you can’t do a worse job than L. Ron did.

                History books will record this as just another day where random end of the world predictions failed to come true, just like the Y2K bug, the approach of a comet or Harold Camping shooting his mouth off. Some of the idiots who believe this rubbish may finally see reason when it fails to happen, their entry into basic critical thinking might be the most important day of their life, but for me, you and everyone else reading the 21st of December 2012 will just be another Friday.


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                  Hit and Run

                  Hit and Run is a 2012 film written by Dax Shepard and directed by Shepard and David Palmer. It stars Shepard (that guy really is getting around on this film, isn’t he?), Kristen Bell, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Arnold. It was released in the US in August and is scheduled for release in the UK and Ireland on the 12th of October.

                  Charlie (Shepard) is under witness protection, handled by the most inept US Marshal ever seen (Arnold), who decides to exit witness protection to move back to LA (where his shady past happened) because his girlfriend Annie (Bell) gets a job offer. The drive back doesn’t exactly go to plan when Annie’s possessive ex (Rosenbaum) discovers Charlie’s true identity and contacts the guy he testified against (Cooper) who then hunts down Charlie and Annie.

                  Hit and Run is a fairly simple blend of car chases and comedy, it’s trying to be a popcorn movie but with some really cerebral dialogue behind it. And that’s the first thing not to like about the film, it panders to the audience by trying to imply that they will be having similarly intellectual conversations, “Hey, you’re watching our film, you must be as smart as us!” The only problem is that the dialogue, and I therefore assume the people behind it, isn’t very smart.

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                    Sinister

                    Sinister is a 2012 supernatural horror film starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and Clare Foley, and directed by Scott Derrickson. The film goes on general release tomorrow (5th of October) in the UK and on 12th of October in the USA.

                    Ellison Osborne is a writer, you know how us writers like to cast ourselves as the stars of life, his particular speciality is true crime books. You know? The what really happened in some murder or other style books. The thing is, Ellison’s a bit down on his luck, after his one big hit he’s not been able to replicate that same success with his other work. Taking one last chance he moves into the house where a family was murdered by being hung in a row in the back garden. Certainly seems like a good place to move your family to, and apparently it was available for a steal for some reason. Ellison sets about trying to explain what happened to the family, and find the daughter that disappeared on the same day. Finding a box of Super 8 film in the attic, that wasn’t there when the police searched the property, he gets to see exactly what happened. The mystery deepens with the other films, all showing families being murdered back to the 1960s. However, it’s an image in the background that catches his interest, and might reveal who’s behind these crimes.

                    Right, I’m well aware that I’m not going to please everyone with what I say about this. Therefore I’m going to split my opinion into two distinct sections, one for fans of this genre and one for people who aren’t really bothered. Ready?

                    Genre fans, you’re up first!

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