Fanboys – DVD Review

I first heard about this film back in 2006 when I saw a trailer for it on a DVD, and since that point Fanboys disappeared off the map. Years later, it comes back into circulation after having a limited release but cult success over in the States in 2009 and was gradually making its way over to the UK shores. However, after not even getting the cinematic release it was expected to, Fanboys went straight to DVD and has only just gotten its release on this format, thus once again likely disappearing off the map. And this truly is a shame!

Fanboys tells the story of four friends who get reunited with each other on Halloween 1998 – three years after they graduated and went their separate ways. Whilst three of them stuck together and stayed true to their geek roots, Eric (Sam Huntington) went off and joined his father to become a car salesman. But once they meet up again, Eric gets informed that his best friend Linus (Christopher Marquette) is suffering from terminal cancer and only has a few months to live. Along with fellow friends Hutch (Dan Fogler) and Windows (Jay Baruchel), a shared love of all things Star Wars and a dream of travelling across the country to steal an early cut of Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace, they boldly go where – sorry – they travel to a state far, far away to break into Skywalker Ranch six months ahead of the release date of the film.

Fanboys is fantastic for many reasons. Firstly, although this is the same kind of plot that has been done a million times by films like Road Trip, Sex Drive, American Pie and any other teen-demographic travelling buddy movie you care to think of, there is genuinely brilliant writing that makes Fanboys stand out from the rest. The humour is in a total class of its own as it doesn’t succumb to the old trap of using crude humour and sex jokes to get their humour across (ok, so there’s perhaps one or two like that, but even then it’s really more implied). Instead, director and creator Kyle Newman knew exactly what kind of people this film would appeal to, and so instead took an entirely different take on the road trip story and made it entirely for fans of all things Sci-Fi.

The characters that make up the main cast if Fanboys are part of the overall humour that makes the film what it is. Kristen Bell makes a brilliant addition to the cast as Zoe, the punk girl who joins in with the guys, gets all the comic references and is pretty hot to boot. But then, that’s partly to do with the fact that she’s Kristen Bell… Jay Baruchel does the tall, lanky geek act really well (and surprised me when he played a more jerk-like character in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, another good film that I would recommend), and is the embodiment of what anyone would believe makes a “Star Wars geek”. Dan Fogler’s “Hutch”, however, is almost the exact opposite and is easily the best character out of the bunch as his is the character that says what other people are thinking. He IS the Han Solo that steals the show, and gets some of the best lines of the movie because of it!

The most original thing about the writing of Fanboys is the in-jokes and references, and the way they are sometimes so subtly delivered. There may be huge Star Wars references throughout the film, but there are also lots of little ones that you would otherwise miss if you weren’t listening properly. It’s every so often, in a single line perfectly placed in the scene so that it just blends into the dialogue like when Windows says “God, it’s been Parsecs” (Man-points to anyone who understands that joke!). It’s in Hutch’s van that has “hyperspace” that doesn’t work at first, and the way he has to hit the roof to make the van work. It’s the fact that Seth Rogen turns up as multiple characters, one of which is a leader of Star Trek fans that claims “it’s not ‘Trekkies’ it’s ‘Trekkers’” before he calls Han Solo a bitch and starts a war between Trek-Fans and Wars-Fans. Elements like these are what make up the true experience of Fanboys – because the big joke is that obviously, if you get these kinds of jokes, you ARE a fanboy yourself and proud of it!

Another aspect of Fanboys that will bring a smile to the faces of all members of the Rebel Alliance watching it is the huge amount of amazing cameos that Kyle Newman managed to gather together. Billy Dee Williams (aka Lando Calrissian) and Carrie Fisher (aka Princess Leia, for anyone out there that hasn’t seen Star Wars… shame on you…) turn up in unlikely roles as a court Judge and a Doctor respectively, William Shatner ironically enough turns up as the gangs secret informant “Scruffy Nerfherder”, Ray Park (Darth Maul) plays a baton-wielding security guard, even famous cult film director Kevin Smith has a cameo at one part whoring out Jason “Jay” Mews’ mouth for money!

However, for all its spoofs, one-liners and immensely hilarious Star Wars references, there is a sentimental side to Fanboys. The reason they are all doing this is so that they can get their friend Linus to see Episode 1 before he passes on without it being released. The point towards the end when you finally remember that this has all been for him is genuinely sentimental and gives Fanboys that little extra third-dimension it needs to round it off into a film that has every angle it needs totally wrapped up.

Of course, the biggest joke of all comes at the end, in the very last line of the whole film…

So why is Fanboys so awesome, you might be asking? It’s not just the critical yet witty references to one of the biggest franchises in cinema, but it’s more of that you know you’re not just watching another teen road movie. You’re watching something made BY Star Wars fans, FOR Star Wars fans. Jay Baruchel himself described the film as “a love letter to George Lucas”, and it’s easy to see how this is true. It’s funny, it’s touching, it’s got great characters that you’d probably want to be friends with in real life, and is generally a hugely fun experience.

I thoroughly recommend Fanboys as a generally good comedy, but it’s a complete and total must-see for anyone who’s ever dreamt of owning a real Lightsabre!

Advertisements

The Gaslight Anthem @ Southampton Guildhall, 22/10/2010

In this current economical climate, a lot of people are beginning to struggle for the things they want or need. A lot of people are tightening their budgets and doing more things on the cheap. So it’s pretty reassuring to know that if you’re a music fan, you can still get a fantastic show for what you pay for entry nowadays! Tonight’s show at Southampton Guildhall involves an unlikely audience of all kinds of ages, all kinds of tastes and all kinds of fashions. All to see The Gaslight Anthem, the New Jersey blues-punkers who made it out of their city and have become a sensation over the last couple of years thanks to their own mix of old school sounds mixed with modern song writing and performances.

First up on tonight’s bill, though, is Sharks who appear on stage without any kind of announcement and catch the Guildhall audience a little off guard. Straight away they kick the evening off with an acapella introduction to their grimy, gritty Welsh punk with a good measure snarl to boot. Sharks are clearly new to some of the audience tonight, as they’re playing to a crowd that is still pretty thinly spread and because of this, they almost seem like a small fish in a big pond. They could all probably do with a good meal, too. But that’s not to say that Sharks aren’t any good; their fast, fists-in-the-air punk definitely doesn’t beat around the bush about who they are and what they do, but it seems more like they should be playing a greasy, run-down punk bar somewhere to a smaller, tighter audience that can appreciate them more. As such, their brash punk sounds get a little lost in the cavernous main room of Southampton Guildhall tonight, and there’s such little audience interaction from them that their set is over just as quickly as it started.

Obviously a bit better known, Chuck Ragan is able to draw more of a crowd and fill out the space of the Guildhall quite impressively. The singer of Hot Water Music tonight brings out a change of pace from the other acts and starts out by his lonesome, just him and his guitar. Whoever said that Country Bluegrass could never have edge obviously had never seen Chuck Ragan, as his impressive mix of acoustic blues and edgy punk take the audience completely by surprise. The only thing nearly as impressive as this is the beard on the face of “his friend John Gonn” who accompanies him on the violin after his first solo song. Together, they bring the Southern blues of Louisiana and the punk of New Jersey together in one awesome collaboration. Chuck Ragan plays his “country-punk” mix with such conviction and heart that even people who have never heard of him before are hanging on to every lyric, every strum and every harmonica note that comes from him. And it’s easy to see how these songs come from an emotional place when he dedicates a song to his wife back home. It’s pretty safe to say that bluegrass might not have been the coolest of music genres before, but if Chuck Ragan has anything to say about it, it will be by the time he’s done!

An almighty uproar signals the arrival of Brian Fallon, Alex Levine, Alex Rosamilia and Benny Horowitz, collectively known as The Gaslight Anthem, on stage. Without any hesitation they kick off their set with fan favourites Great Expectations, Stay Lucky and Bring It On and even get a mass chant-along started when they play The Diamond Church Street Choir.  Even though this is meant to be a tour for their latest album American Slang, it’s obvious The Gaslight Anthem know exactly who they’re playing to tonight and indulge their fans with an extended set of nearly their entire back catalogue, including many of their older songs such as Casanova Baby, Miles Davis And The Cool, I’da Called You Woody Joe, Angry Johnny And The Radio, and 1930. Brian Fallon even regales his avid onlookers tonight with a story of how he and his friends used to race cars at night while the police were busy with other things, and his car that could do 120mph before they go into Old White Lincoln. What’s perhaps most impressive about The Gaslight Anthem tonight is not just how Brian Fallon speaks to the crowd in a way that is akin to someone having a normal one-on-one conversation, but also the way that their set list rather impressively mixes all of their latest songs like Boxer and Spirit of Jazz with older, classic fan favourites like Even Cowgirls Get The Blues in a way that can make you feel such a range of feelings from one song to the next. Perhaps the best example of this is the way they end the first part of their set by playing the emotionally taught We Did It When We Were Young and The ’59 Sound next to each other before leaving the stage. After getting chanted back on again, and playing American Slang, you would think they would end their encore there but they further indulge their feverous fans with another three songs after that!

Yes, there might be a wide mix of people at the Guildhall tonight – people dressed up for a Friday night, people bringing their dads and mums with them and people that came to perhaps remember times gone by. But there’s one thing that clearly unites everyone in the room tonight, no matter how different they are. It’s in the lyrics that get sung back at Brian; it’s in the smiles on everyone’s faces and the tears in some people’s eyes; it’s even in the homage some people have sketched into their shoes. Its passion; the kind of passion that The Gaslight Anthem gives people in order to bring them together. And that’s perhaps the biggest appeal of The Gaslight Anthem of all – the fact that they can bring people together and make them feel good about their lives, their loves and even their losses. And that’s why The Gaslight Anthem will be sticking around for a while yet!

In Memory of Guy Robertson, who would have surely been at this show if he could have.

Canterbury @ The Joiners 20/10/2010

Upon entering The Joiners in Southampton from the crisp weather outside, you could be forgiven for thinking you might have accidentally stepped into a college leavers do, since there are probably only a handful of people here old enough to remember Wayne’s World being in cinemas. But despite this fact, the show tonight at The Joiners is entirely sold out and totally packed to the roof, and the atmosphere is exactly what you would expect from this.

First up tonight is City Stereo who, for the first band on the bill, have a surprisingly dedicated audience. They start off the evening with their bouncy, New Found Glory-style bass chuggery riffs crossed with Taking Back Sunday melodies and, not too surprisingly, a similar style of stage-strutting. Even though their lyrics seem a bit drama-heavy, it will be interesting to see how City Stereo develop in the future considering the reaction to their opening gambit tonight.

Nic Matthews, the singer of Southampton locals The After Party, may look like he just rolled out of bed for this show, but luckily they don’t play like they just woke up! In fact, when they play the catchy, sing along chorus of Keep Me Waiting, the crowd start to wake up more as well. The After Party certainly put on an impressive show, but whether this is down to their clever use of lighting and strobe effects or not will have to be seen at future shows.

When the lights dim and The Duel of the Fates from Star Wars begins to play, the crowd instantly knows that this heralds the arrival of Southampton’s own pop-punk success story Not Advised. As expected, the crowd erupt when they kick their homecoming set off with their latest single release, the epic Right Now, and everyone starts singing and dancing along to their riotous punk rock anthems. Fan favourites A Red Light Situation and mass crowd sing-along tune Jane Says Left closely follow, and get the crowd chanting the words right back at Jim Thomas, the ring leader of this pop-punk circus. Although they don’t indulge their fans with their fantastic cover of Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror, they do announce to their hometown crowd that they will be headlining this same venue in February before playing themselves out with their first single The World’s Not Ready, which does a great job of getting the crowd suitably hot, sweaty and bouncing like a roomful of excitable Tiggers. If this is the future of home-grown British pop-punk-rock, then the future is in for an ass-kicking!

Tonight’s headliners Canterbury only take to the stage after a misleading dimming of the lights and music get the crowd falsely excited, but the crowd still go appropriately bat-shit for their brand of indie-twinged pop-punk when they do. “There’s a temperature gauge up there, when we came in it said 27. By the end of tonight, we want it to be at least 35!” announces their singer before they plough into latest video release Calm Down. Although Canterbury look like they should all still be sitting their A-Levels, there’s no denying their ability to get a crowd pumped up and moving when they play Take Me Out Of The Wall and get the crowd to be “the loudest human piano in history”. The fact that The Joiners is sold out tonight is a testament to how well they have been doing, and this could be down to the fact that they released their last album Thank You for free online nearly a year ago, so it clear that word spreads fast and furious like wildfire around this lot. At the end of the set, they rather honestly and bravely announce to the crowd “This is normally the point where we pretend to walk off and let you guys cheer us back on and play some more songs, but we’re not going to do that, we’re just going to play instead!” much to the pleasure of their ravenous fans at the front of the stage. Before they play their final song Friends? We’re More Like A Gang their singer announces that this sold-out crowd is a dream come true for him and his band mates. And clearly, if they keep doing what they’re doing now, these dreams will keep coming true for a while yet!

The Social Network (Contains Spoilers)

I think by this point it’s pretty safe to say that David Fincher is a dude who really knows what he’s doing. He may not have as many Oscars as Scorsese, as many classics as Spielberg or as much money as Cameron, but his repertoire shows that he definitely has it together and is more than capable of creating pieces of cinema that are sure to make heads turn. Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac – all of these have been incredibly tense and very intellectually challenging films, and The Social Network is no exception to this. Ironically enough, after seeing The Social Network I honestly couldn’t wait to write a blog about it and express my opinions of it on a public medium!

The Social Network, I personally think, is one of the most intellectually entertaining films not just of this year, but of recent years as well. Pair that with the fact that, at its centre point, it is a piece about one of the most used, talked about and potentially dangerous inventions of recent years and you have a film that is GOING to cause a stir, no matter what! The partly true, partly fictional story of the Harvard University based creators of the social networking site Facebook (which you’d be hard-pressed to find someone NOT on it now!) sees Jesse Eisenberg playing the role of Mark Zuckerberg, the main geek-brained creator of the infamous networking website. Eisenberg does a fantastic job playing Mark as he is able to deliver all his lines with such a straight face and blank attitude that it’s both believable and ironic in equal measures – believable because Eisenberg delivers all the computer jargon with such conviction you’d think he graduated from MIT, and ironic in the way that someone with such a lack of social interaction skills and emotional depth could create the world’s largest and most famous social networking site. But that’s the irony of the situation to begin with, really – the fact that The Social Network starts with a five minute scene of Mark basically ruining a date by gradually insulting his date more and more because his mind obviously operates on different levels from normal humans goes to show just how socially awkward and emotionally blind Eisenberg’s Mark is. Also, as a side note, that first scene of the film where the awkwardly sarcastic Mark and his date Erica Albright (Rooney Mara) are sat around a table was probably the hardest part of the film to write! From this early point, it’s clearly established that Mark is not just socially blind, but more a borderline Asperger’s patient, which is again why it’s ironic he managed to create Facebook.

Whilst Eisenberg does an amazing job as the sarcastically smarter-than-thou Mark, it’s Andrew Garfield who truly shines through as Mark’s roommate and co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin. Garfield is genuinely an amazing actor in The Social Network, providing the other half of the entire story that makes up the script of the film. Saverin is the more socially aware, richer go-getter of the two founders which is what starts to provide Eisenberg’s Mark with the conflicts he faces, as for someone so socially unaware, he’s friends with someone who is more popular, has more money and can intellectually keep up with Mark. The scene where Garfield truly steals the show is at the point where Saverin is given further contracts to sign and realises exactly what his shares in Facebook are after a corporate investment and, even though you don’t feel as much of a connection to this jealous and somewhat spiteful portrayal of Eduardo Saverin, you can’t help but feel bad for how shunned and cast out he gets.

This is not to say that Saverin was the “bad guy” in any of this, and that’s part of the beauty of The Social Network – there are no clearly defined “good” or “bad” characters. Each of the characters is right or wrong about different things in equal measures – at the point where Saverin wants to monetise Facebook through advertising, Eisenberg’s Mark doesn’t want to. He wants to “not stop the party before 11” as the parallel goes. BUT, as it now turns out, Facebook ended up charging for advertising on their spaces and that is now why Facebook is worth so much money, and has made billionaires of Saverin and Zuckerberg. So in the end, neither of them are exactly right or wrong, which is what makes their characters so compelling throughout the entire film.

Justin Timberlake is a bit questionable in the role of Sean Parker, and I’m having a hard time making my mind up about him. On the one hand, I think Timberlake is doing a good job for himself in becoming a legitimate actor as well as singer, and I think the Social Network will work well for him as a stepping stone to further good roles. However, his particular role in this film I found a little hard to accept as it progressed. At the start of the film, Timberlake obviously does a good job of becoming the Napster Mastermind Sean Parker – a cocky rich guy who dropped out of school, managed to screw around in the Music industry and has gotten plenty of fame and fortune because of it. Let’s face it; of course Justin Timberlake would be good at playing that role… But as the film went on, and the character of Sean Parker had to become gradually more genuine and less of a “mogul” type, Timberlake became a little less believable in his character, and that’s where he started to falter. So to begin with, Timberlake’s character works well and drives the storyline, but towards the end he starts to become less of a steering wheel and more of a regular cog in the works. But he still makes for an interesting character, and I think that Timberlake might actually have some kind of possible career in film ahead of him.

One aspect of The Social Network that was interesting, and in fact of many of Fincher’s films, is the way in which the story is told. The Social Network isn’t exactly told in a series of flashbacks as the film actually starts back before Zuckerberg created Facebook or even his first attempt at an internet-wide practical joke of Facemash, but more with cut-aways to the legal proceedings that followed after Facebook became something bigger than any of its creators. At the end of the film, the storylines catch up to each other and come to one, single conclusion as the story of the creation of Facebook meets with the courtroom drama that ensued after it. In this way, the delivery of the information that drives the story is evenly spread out, and in some places even comical with the way that it is cut together to tell the story of certain incidents in Facebook’s creation. What is also interesting about this form of storytelling is that it keeps you guessing as to how they all got to that point – at one part towards the end, you get the sense that Saverin and Zuckerberg are almost at a point of an understanding again before everything gets far worse, but the point is that it keeps you guessing at times, and that’s what gives The Social Network’s story its edge.

I should also say that the film’s soundtrack is worth a mention at this point. The soundtrack to The Social Network has been written and put together entirely by Nine Inch Nails front man Trent Reznor and legendary rock producer Atticus Ross, so it would definitely make for an interesting listen if you know your music history AND enjoy using Facebook as well, considering that two veritable legends of modern rock music have come together to create this soundtrack.

One thing that The Social Network does make very clear is, ironically enough, the dangers of using Facebook. It’s actually quoted in the film “It’s addictive. I’m on it like, 5 times a day!” and about how “the internet isn’t writing in pencil, it’s in pen” and it’s repeatedly referenced at how just using Facebook is all about putting all of your personal details up on a public forum for anyone you know to access. It’s been recently stated by Eric Schmidt, boss of Google.com, about how the dangers of using Facebook and other social networking sites won’t be apparent for a while, but will still be there all the same. Schmidt anticipates that the current generation of Facebook users won’t be worried about identity theft, but more about how to escape the online identity they’ve been creating for themselves all this time. He states “Young people may one day have to change their names in order to escape their previous online activity” and that could end up being very true, and The Social Network does a good job of beginning to subliminally imply this.

Ultimately, there is very little to fault The Social Network on, except for one small part where in one scene they have Prince Albert played by someone who is CLEARLY American and looks nothing like Prince Albert at all. That detail aside, The Social Network is an awesome film with great characters and brilliant casting all round, and I think it has easily made its way into my Top Films of the Year. It will also be interesting to see how Fincher tackles the re-make of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo next year with Rooney Mara from this film becoming Lisbeth Salander. I’m giving The Social Network 8 out of 10 for sheer impressiveness and intelligence, and I think everyone should make an effort to catch it in cinemas!

Despicable Me (Contains Spoilers)

Although I’m not particularly proud of the fact that I wound up seeing Despicable Me before I’m able to go and see The Social Network or even the re-release of Back To The Future, I’m ok with the fact that I ended up seeing Despicable Me mostly because of the fact that from the trailers and the hype it’s been getting it looked like it would be at least a semi-decent animated comedy film. Perhaps not quite of the standards of Shrek or Kung-Fu Panda or anything like that, but entertaining enough to actually be worth killing time on. And that’s what it turned out to be – a semi-decent animated comedy that was perhaps actually worth killing time on.

I’ll be the first to admit that it probably wasn’t my film of choice to begin with, and I wouldn’t have been kicking myself if I had wound up missing it at the cinema, but it turns out that Steve Carell actually does a pretty good job on voice acting as well as physical comedy too, thusly legitimising him as a pretty well rounded actor. Although, that could also have been said after watching Dan In Real Life a few weeks ago as well… Anyway, the point is that although he’d deliberately putting on an accent in this, he does bring a little bit of his own comedy wonder to the character of Gru, the evil genius out to prove that he’s still the best there is at what he does – being a total bastard. Even in the first 5 minutes of the film, Gru manages to cheer up a little kid, put a smile on his face and make him all happy just to deliberately bring him down again! Clearly, it had to be established upon the first point of seeing Gru that he had to be a complete arse and that was very much achieved.

Essentially, what I liked about Despicable Me was the fact that you have to sympathise with a guy who is deliberately out to make people’s lives a bit of a misery. Gru IS the evil genius that creates heroes out of nothing, and yet no heroes try to stop him, so he’s free to rain down his evilness on anyone and anything. But obviously, because this is a kid’s film, it couldn’t quite take that sinister tone too far and so they had to introduce a more human side to him – one of a kid with hopes and dreams, of which his mother completely shot down as nonsense. Thus, this creates an association with Gru, and he’s not such a bad guy anymore – just someone who USED to be evil who now has lots of cool gadgets and millions of minions.

A little thing that bugged me about part of the story of Despicable Me is the fact that his Minions aren’t really explained, more just taken as granted that they’re there. Perhaps it’s me wanting more of a cohesive reason behind small things like that in the films I see, and forgetting that kids generally tend to take most things as a given and not question these things, but I would have liked to have known how Gru got all his little minions that, strangely enough, resemble the Tic-tac men painted yellow. This, however, was not given but what we get instead is a tool of such great comic relief that you find yourself not caring anymore. Ok, they’re silly, they’re stupid, and they’re basically yellow Tic-tac-shaped Oompa Loopmas, but I think you’d have to be a pretty straight-faced critic to not have a little giggle when one of them manages to drink and anti-gravity serum and floats out a window, only to crop up at ridiculous times later on. Or even when one gets cracked and shaken and starts glowing like a glow stick. They’re the kind of bizarre humour that contrasts the kind of outright, slightly predictable humour of some of the other characters.

On that point, it has to be said that I’m probably not one of Russell Brand’s biggest fans. In fact, earlier in his career I found him to be pretty irritating and generally kind of thick, and wondered what the appeal of him was. However, in recent years he has started to show a bit more of a genuine appeal as a comedy actor in things like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek (ok, he’s basically playing himself in those films, but at least he can play a character and read a script now!), and I think his role as the doddery old Dr. Nefario (the ‘M’ to Gru’s ‘Bond’, to draw a total parallel) was pretty genius. I think it’s mostly his delivery of the lines that his appeal lies in, which just shows that when you get rid of the stupid skin-tight jeans, guyliner and lady-killing hair, he CAN still deliver a line very well.

The basic plot of Despicable Me is that the “evil” Gru needs to re-capture a shrink ray from a rival evil genius Vector (Jason Segel) so that he can steal the Moon. But, in order to do this, his plan involves adopting three young girls from an orphanage to infiltrate his nemesis’ lair and steal it for him. But in the process of doing so, Gru finds that having a family is better than being feared, and learns alot from the growing love they have between them (que sobs and violins). Ok, a pretty predictable plot if there was one, but for a kids film its one that works pretty well.  There’s a dynamic amongst kids films recently of sympathising with unlikely characters (again, Shrek is a good example), and more and more developers of animated films for “kidults” are playing off of this. Not that this is a bad thing – what it means is that it will eventually get increasingly harder for developers to make films like these and not tread on the heels of previous similar works. The comedy in Despicable Me is pretty one-of-a-kind for now, which gives it that genuinely entertaining edge, but in my opinion the plotline isn’t exactly one that will stand the test of time. But perhaps this was known all along, as you get the sense that there is an air about Despicable Me that it’s really not trying to be something it isn’t – just a straight-edge family comedy with some original characters backing it up.

Essentially, there is a lot to like about Despicable Me, despite it actually being a fairly average film. The three girls Margo (played by iCarly’s own Miranda Cosgrove), Edith and Agnes are sickly adorable and actually provide a pretty strong centre of comedy, Steve Carell does a great job as always, and the Minions are definitely worth a giggle. The fact that the orphanage owner had what she referred to as a “Box of Shame” also made me laugh in a kind of darkly sinister way, but perhaps that’s just me… However, the major let downs of Despicable Me was the fact that it became somewhat predictable and didn’t break the mould too much for a film of its hype, and ended the film on one of those annoyingly rubbish dance scenes. Call it a pet peeve if you will, but I personally just don’t find these funny anymore and I feel it’s becoming a stamp of a rubbish ending to average films. Another niggling thing is how much films advertised as being 3D films don’t actually have much reason for using 3D. Throughout Despicable Me there was not really as much 3D effects as had been hyped but the fact that when the 3D effects were used, it didn’t exactly add to the experience or storyline but it did visually look impressive, made a bit of a difference. It will also be interesting to see how well Will Ferrell’s own evil animation Megamind does in answer this considering it also stars Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill when that gets its release in a couple of months time.

Overall, Despicable Me probably isn’t something I would choose to see above a lot of films currently available, but for families it’s a no-brainer! Despicable Me gets an easy 6 out of 10 for being somewhat predictable, but also a bit of fun.

LISTED Film Previews – October ’10

Finally, we come back round to the Halloween films of the year – my favourite time of year for film releases! This is mainly because you’ll always see different production companies competing against each other for the Halloween High-Hitter of the Year. Obviously, in recent years, its been all of the Saw movies, because this has now been built up into a franchise in the same way that Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday The 13th was – to the extent that little kids were dressing up in clawed gloves and burnt faces at such a young age that they couldn’t possibly be old enough to thave seen the films. And that is what Saw is managing to do now – become a franchise and make an icon of itself. Don’t get me wrong, this is great for their business, but I think this year there’s going to be some stiff competition from a film thats generating hype all of its own….

Also, just as a note, more and more people have been leaving great comments on some posts, bringing up some very valid points and its a shame if these dont get read. So next time you’re reading one of these, check for comments about points you might have wanted to hear more of, because they might just be there. Now, time for the film feast for you greedy lot out there!

THE SOCIAL NETWORK (12A) (Dir. David Fincher)

Ever wondered how much trouble goes into creating a social networking site? The Social Network follows the fictional story of Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) and how he and a group of his friends came together to create the networking and photo sharing site Facebook. However, things start to turn ugly when arguements with his friend and co-founder of the site Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield) compromise the website, his funds and everything he owns. The trailers for this film look pretty great, and it looks like there’s a surprisingly high amount of drama in The Social Network – which will provide a very welcome retreat from the Hollywood remakes! Definitely worth watching if you use Facebook yourself (so, everyone then?), or even if it’s to see Andrew Garfield’s performance before the Spider-Man reboot starts production. Released October 15th.

RED (12A) (Dir. Robert Schwentke)

Based on the DC comics series, Bruce Willis plays a retired black-ops agent whose peaceful situation is compromised when a new, high-tech assassin threatens his life. As a last resort, Frank Moses (Willis) reassembles his former black-ops team to break into the CIA. Considering that Bruce Willis did this after Cop Out (which was of a similar style to Red and pretty successful for Willis too) and that this also stars Morgan Freeman, a slightly barmy John Malkovich and a sniper-rifle toting Helen Mirren, you can pretty much bet that the mix of smart comedy and high-octane action is going to work pretty well for bringing in the audiences. It’s definitely worked for Willis so far, at least! Released October 22nd.

SAW VII 3D (18) (Dir. Kevin Greutert)

Although the Saw franchise has probably gone on way longer than it rightly should have by now, the latest instalment in the series is not only in 3D but also sees the return of original Saw victim Carey Elwes as Lawrence Gordon. Whilst a deadly battle rages between those who want to take up the mantle Jigsaw left behind, a group of his survivors gather and seek support from fellow survivor and self-help guru Bobby Dagen (Sean Patrick Flannery). But Dagen’s own motives are so dark and destructive they may start an entirely new wave of terror. Advertised as the last Saw (even though VIII has been green lit), it’s likely that the 3D effects will go down well amongst the loyal fan base, but personally this is not what my money is on for the Halloween success of the year… Released October 29th.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 (18) (Dir. Tod Williams)

The sequel to the biggest low-budget phenomenon of recent years is finally seeing the light of day. Or not, as the early trailers suggest… Not much is known about the storyline, but what the trailers have revealed is a lot more frightening goings-on in a new house with cameras in every room, with a dog and a baby taking up residence in the house as well. With the director of the original on board as a producer, Paranormal Activity 2 is set to scare the living snot out of audiences all over the world! Released October 29th.