LISTED Film Previews – October ’11

Another month, and another lot of Film Previews for Listed Magazine. We’ve got a packed month this time round, with Halloween around the corner and the horror films coming out of the woodwork, so get on top of the film viewings in order to keep up! Also remember that you can listen to reviews of all of these films on May Contain Spoilers by listening in at 9pm every Thursday on The Bay Radio, or by listening to our podcasts by searching “May Contain Spoilers” on either Facebook or Jellycast. It’s a better investment than a chocolate teapot! That being said, have a read of these and leave some opinions:

REAL STEEL (12A) (Dir. Shawn Levy)

While it could have the unofficial title of “Rock-‘Em Sock-‘Em Robots: The Movie”, Real Steel looks like it might have something a bit more than the obvious to offer. Hugh Jackman is Charlie Kenton, a one-time famous boxing champ who is now a struggling promoter in a world where humans no longer box, but instead use 2000 pound robots. After Charlie discovers he has an 11 year old son who wants to know his father, they find a common goal training an unlikely champion in an old discarded droid. Sort of mid-way between Transformers and Rocky, it’s easy to see that Real Steel might have the typical father-and-son personal growth storyline, but throw giant boxing robots into the mix and you might just have something original that everyone can enjoy. Plus this looks like it could be the movie Transformers 3 should really have been! Released October 14th.

CONTAGION (12A) (Dir. Steven Soderbergh)

Doing his usual act of releasing two of his own films in one year – one being a big budget feature with big names and one smaller, lesser known one – Contagion is the bigger of the years releases from Mr. Soderbergh. Contagion focuses on an outbreak of an airborne virus that kills anyone infected within days. Panic and fear spread as quickly as the virus epidemic does, and a team from the Centre for Disease Control (including Matt Damon, Marion Cotillard and Laurence Fishburne) race to find a cure for the lethal virus. But the question is, are they able to find a cure before society tears itself apart? It may be more of a psychological thriller than an actual horror, but Contagion could be a surprise Halloween hit this year, so check it out if you want something different. Released October 21st.

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN (PG) (Dir. Steven Spielberg)

Bringing alive the adventures of the original comic books and boasting a big-time writing team of Stephen Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish with a big name cast to boot, The Adventures of Tintin will see the intrepid reporter and his dog Snowy in a Robert Zemeckis-style motion capture 3D epic. When Tintin (Jamie Bell) discovers a map to a sunken treasure ship of Captain Haddock’s (Andy Serkis) ancestor, the two set out to find it before the nefarious Red Rackham (Daniel Craig) can get to it first. Definitely for those who aren’t into the Halloween-season films, Tintin could be the first of many treasure-hunting adventures for the boy reporter, so watch out for this one. Released October 26th.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 3 (15) (Dir. Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman)

Filling a very noticeable Saw-shaped hole in Halloween film releases this year, Paranormal Activity 3 returns with its trademark low-budget style with major chills. Although the plot is still mostly the stuff of rumour, it looks like the third film will be a direct sequel rather than the planned prequel, but will use “historical videos” from before the first one as part of the story. Whether you’re familiar with the series or not, with little in the way of horror film competition this year you can expect Paranormal Activity 3 to be the film fans will flock to for their frights – watch if you dare! Released October 21st.

As published in Listed Magazine and on http://www.listedmagazine.com – Reviews can be found on the May Contain Spoilers podcast.

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Paul (Contains Spoilers)

Film poster for PaulJust going to show that there is hope for the hopeless-at-love yet, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have released their latest comedic masterpiece Paul to coincide with Valentine’s Day. A deliberate stunt against a holiday made up by card companies? Perhaps, but personally I’ve been looking forward to this new film from the Spaced duo for quite a while. And I have to say right away, I was not disappointed!

Paul has been a film on the cards for quite a while, originally coming from some doodles Simon Pegg did on the set of a previous movie. The character Paul eventually developed from these doodles into the wise-cracking, foul-mouthed slacker from another planet this film centres around. Graeme Willy (Pegg) and Clive Gollings (Frost) are two man-child geeks on a dream journey around the famous UFO sighting hot-spots of the U.S. after going to Comic-Con and meeting their literary hero. Mid-way through their geeky road trip in their RV, they encounter a crashed car and have a not-so-brief encounter with a chain-smoking, cargo shorts clad alien named Paul (Seth Rogen) who crash landed in the area 60 years ago. Graeme and Clive set out on a mission to help their new slacker extra-terrestrial BFF “phone home” and get back to his own planet before the FBI take him back into captivity and cut him up to harvest his alien powers.

Ok, so it’s perhaps not the most original plot, after Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz played so heavily on their twists on expectations, but it’s really the characters that make Paul what it is. Part of the brilliance of Paul is that Pegg and Frost are pretty much playing themselves – geeky yet totally lovable man-children who are secretly very creative, funny and talented at art and writing (Clive is an author and Graeme is his illustrator). Even Seth Rogen plays the same character he normally does – the foul-mouthed, weed-smoking slacker who speaks his mind with very little thought or tact behind what he’s saying. The kind of person you wouldn’t really associate with in real life (unless you were one yourself), but you love to watch to see what they’ll do next. It’s not really a far cry from his character in Pineapple Express who he normally plays, but instead of getting samey like you would think, it works in his favour in Paul.

As can only be expected from a script written by Pegg and Frost, there are sci-fi film references a-plenty throughout Paul – everything from E.T. to Jaws, Aliens to Star Trek gets a nod in some way or another, and with cameos from Sigourney Weaver, Jane Lynch (surprisingly enough not being Sue Sylvester from Glee for once!) and Jeffrey Tambor, Paul is a veritable treasure hunt of “spot the film reference”!

I’d also like to point out that, although I didn’t get it at first and had to look it up, Agent Lorenzo Zoyle is another film reference – it’s a very old Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon film called Lorenzo’s Oil, which is why Jason Bateman does that little double-take as Pegg and Frost repeat his name together, as if he hadn’t even realised it before! It did take a bit of searching on my behalf, but because I noticed how many searches were turning up this post, I decided I should make a point of it. You’re searches are over, people! That is the answer!

The only thing that really faults Paul is that Edgar Wright wasn’t on board as director this time round. Not that Greg Mottola didn’t do a brilliant job with Paul – in fact, its amazing Pegg and Frost managed to find someone as on-the-level with them as Wright is – but I couldn’t help feeling like some bits would have benefitted from Wright’s input, such as avoiding the inevitable Hollywood ending, but it ends up working all the same.

If you were to get excited about any film this month, then Paul is definitely that film! Paul gets an intergalactic 9 out of 10 stars for its genius comedy and effort on all fronts from the cast and writers. Another triumph for Simon Pegg and Nick Frost!

Who’s up for Round 3?

And so, after the fogs of the Champagne have parted in your mind and the various gym membership forms have been filled out, what is left to bring you into the New Year? Well, I know it’s probably a bit late doing this half way through January, but this represents a whole 2 Years of My Different Take being up on the web! Sometimes popular, sometimes deader than Shakespeare, but always being updated, My Different Take has been my own personal link into the world of the Internet and expressing my opinion, for what its worth, all across your various Internet Providers displays.

So, what rocked in 2010? This is open to debate, but a lot of awesomeness went down in 2010 that will be hard to top. Firstly, I had my time out in California having some awesome times, meeting awesome people and doing work that ranged from awesome to being yelled at, but regardless it was all experience. 2010 brought around opportunities like: Meeting the cast of Kick-Ass, bumming on the beach with some of my best friends in the world whilst trying to start BBQ’s and failing miserably. It brought beautiful sunsets, amazing holidays, and personal growth like no other. While there were also some losses along the way and some choices that may not have been the best ones of my life, 2010 will not be easily forgotten.

It also brought us some pretty awesome films and music: The start of the year saw Kick-Ass get released along with Iron Man 2 and Inception which I still have yet to see, but fear not as I have the DVD now! Later films included Scott Pilgrim Vs The World and The Social Network, which I still insist are among the best films of the year and are now some of my own personal favourites! As for albums, the ones I’ve most enjoyed throughout 2010 were My Dinosaur Life from Motion City Soundtrack which pretty much made my summer/autumn time, The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang which can easily make you feel better about anything and make you want to get a convertible and drive down to the city, and Bears, Mayors, Scraps and Bones from Cancer Bats for some unadulterated punk ‘n roll goodness!

With all of that in mind, 2011 might have some work to do to keep up with the previous year! So, what looks god for 2011? Well firstly, as with last year, we start 2011 with some great looking films like 127 Hours, a true story film from Danny Boyle that looks to have a lot of humanity and tough choices dealt with, The Kings Speech is already winning multiple awards for Colin Firth, and The Green Hornet, whilst it seems might not have the best script in the world, does look like it will have some good laughs behind it as long as it’s not taken too seriously as a “comic book movie” (which, technically, it’s not). Also, let us not forget the re-make of True Grit with Jeff Bridges as, whilst it is a re-make, has been gaining successful reviews across the board for how well it has been put together and how many people are getting interested in it. Other big releases this year that I myself am getting hugely excited about include Thor, and now that it’s in 3D as well has got me very excited to see what they’ve done with the visuals, Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch which looks phenomenal in its seemless mixing of fantasy, action and CGI and could wind up being a geeks heaven visualised, Cowboys and Aliens which will see Daniel Craig breaking out of his Bond persona to do something a bit more comic related, and Paul which is the latest offering from the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost combo but without the direction of Edgar Wright its touch and go on whether it will live up to their last releases.

Other films that I’m starting to come round to the idea of are Captain America: The First Avenger after I’ve started seeing more shots from the set from it, after I initially didn’t like the idea of Chris Evans doing Steve Rogers since he’s already Johnny Storm in Marvel’s Fantastic Four films. I’m also starting to like the look of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides even though it doesn’t seem to have all that much that is original or will set it apart from the other ones other than Orlando Bloom and (thankfully) Kira Knightly aren’t in it. Unfortunately, Penelope Cruz is also trying to do that annoying thing where she tries to speak British in this new one. Still, Blackbeard? I’m in! Real Steel is another one that looks fairly interesting, sort of what would happen if Rocky met Transformers, and with Hugh Jackman too, so I’ll look forward to seeing how that one turns out. One of the other hugely anticipated comic book movies of the year, alongside Cap and Thor, is Green Lantern which is looks a little more light-hearted than some of DC’s other offerings like the Superman or Batman franchises. Considering that the CGI plays an important part in Green Lantern, and I’m undecided as to whether Ryan Reynolds will be better as Hal Jordan than Nathan Fillion after all, it could currently go either way. Still, there is potential for this to be as big a franchise as DC’s other films. Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn is also releasing X-Men: First Class this year, so it’s looking to be a triple win for Marvel if all three films take off well, but I’m unsure about the casting for this film until pictures get released. Lastly, speaking of franchises, theres Transformers: The Dark of the Moon. I can safely say that the only direction for these films to go in is up after the diabolical last film, but without Megan Fox ruining the film by not opening her mouth when she talks there is a chance the this could bring it back for the robots in disguise and all the fans who lost faith.

As far as music goes, there are a few new releases that I’m looking forward to. To start with, Architects are making a new release very soon to start off the year in their more melodic than usual offering of The Here And Now, and from what I’ve heard so far its a pretty solid mix of brutality and melody to fit all kinds of moods. Yellowcard are set to release a new record which I’m anxiously waiting to hear stuff from around the time that they tour the UK with All Time Low in March who are also releasing a new album, so the success from that will be interesting considering their amount of radio play in the UK.

Deaf Havana are releasing an album this year after a change in their line-up from their last album and ergo, a change in their sound to something still melodic but no less punchy. Rumours of a new Frank Turner album, I’m not sure yet, but I don’t think are confirmed but I do remember him saying a follow-up to his latest Rock And Roll EP is due sometime this year, so I shall be keeping an eye out for that! After their recent reformation and announcement of headlining this years Download Festival, I think its safe to expect a new offering from System of a Down this year, and who knows, we might even see this fabled new Blink-182 album they’ve been making for nearly two-damn-years now which was meant to be out last year but still hasn’t!

Anyway, the long and short of it is that you can expect there to be more reviews, previews, and general expression of my own opinion on this site for a while to come yet, and with any luck I’ll be able to do it more regularly this year! Year one was a healthy experiment, year two got more people reading and me writing more. Let’s see what year three’s got.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World (Contains Spoilers)

It just goes to show – sometimes, some things ARE worth getting excited about! Yes, I am a pretty big geek at heart, but I have been waiting for this film to come out for well over a year now and in all honesty it was totally and completely worth the wait!

I’ve been reading the Scott Pilgrim comic/anime books by Bryan Lee O’Malley for quite a while, after being convinced by a friend working in a local comic shop that I should check it out. I immediately loved what I was reading after the first few pages and was completely hooked after that. Since then, I’ve been recommending the Scott Pilgrim books to any of my friends who I think might like them, and they too have become hooked as well. Scott Pilgrim is the ultimate “non-hero”, and the books have this incredible sense of humour about them that hooks you in and keeps you reading just to see what the next funny bit is going to be. Admittedly, it does take a certain kind of sense of humour to get it straight away (“warped” would be an appropriate phrase…), but then that’s just part of what makes Scott Pilgrim so damn good.

As with pretty much anything, there were a couple of things I wasn’t sure I liked, but they were only small and I’ll get to them later. I’m not going to bitch on about how the film is never as good as the books, because people that compare the films to the books too much are looking for reasons to hate what they see. No, I’m not like that – there are very few films that are going to have everything from the book in them and be as good as, if not better than, the book itself, so grow up and move on.

Anyway, the second you start watching Scott Pilgrim Vs The World, you know that you’re watching something entirely different just from the digitised video-game version of the Universal logo. The first bit of the film is almost exactly like the start of the first book (Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life), and I don’t just mean as in the content – I mean like they’ve taken panels from the books and made them a reality! Shot for shot, some scenes are exactly how they appear in the pages, which is probably more of a testament to Edgar Wright’s capabilities as a director to make sure that the film reflected the look and style of the book, and the fact that he had Bryan Lee O’Malley on the set for filming as well goes to show just how closely everyone wanted to keep the film to the style of the books. And this was not unnoticed in the slightest – in fact, it made watching Scott Pilgrim Vs The World even better than it otherwise would have been because you really feel like you’re experiencing a real-life version of the books. But then, bearing in mind that Edgar Wright is mostly responsible for the existence of Spaced and Shaun of the Dead, I’m sure when people heard that he was at the helm of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World they weren’t too worried about how it would turn out and that it was in pretty safe hands!

All of the characters are brilliantly adapted from the books as well – Michael Cera has been proclaimed by Bryan Lee O’Malley as the person to be Scott Pilgrim, as no-one else could ever really capture him. Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks brilliant as Ramona Flowers, even though in the film she comes across as a bit more of a bitch than in the books, when we actually see a lot more of her kind and caring side and therefore we care a lot more about whether they end up together. But for obvious reasons, there is a limited amount of time in a film to do that without ruining the flow of the action, and they managed to get across everything that was needed from the relationship they share in the books. Mark Webber looks exactly like Stephen Stills, and Kieran Culkin does a fantastic job of portraying Wallace Wells’ character who nearly steals the show with the amazing lines he gets in the film. Even screaming fan-girl Knives Chau (17 Years Old) is brought to life by Ellen Wong in a fantastic way, because she gets the geeky side of Knives and how badly she wants to be noticed.

But of course, the best part of the film has got to be the visual effects. The way that Scott Pilgrim Vs The World is brought to life on the screen is done literally like a living comic book, and I honestly think that without all of the visual accompaniments to on-screen actions, the video-game effects taking place in real-world situations and the super colourful fight sequences that catch you off guard at some points, then Scott Pilgrim really would have been missing something important. And as if the comic book text wasn’t enough, the fight sequences are so huge and crazily bombastic you’re not sure if you’re watching a film or playing a really lifelike game of Street Fighter! Arguably the best example of this is the fight scene against super-powered psychic vegan Todd Ingram (played by Brandon Routh) with Scott getting pretty much plastered to the walls, whilst Routh gets all the great lines in the scene. Easily one of the best scenes of the film, along with the fight with Chris Evans’ Lucas Lee.

There were things in the film that had obviously been added, or elaborated on, from the books. One such scene is the spoof of Seinfeld where Scott enters his apartment and has a back and forth with Wallace to a laugh track. This happens for all of about 3 minutes and then stops, never to be heard from again. Why? Why not. That’s part of what made the books so interesting, so why shouldn’t it be the same in the film?

A couple of things I didn’t like, which were only small, we’re the following – the fact that Envy Adams (played by Brie Larson) isn’t heard from again after the fight with Todd Ingram even though she’s a big part of the storyline and Scott’s back-story, that evil mastermind Gideon Graves (played by Jason Schwartzman, who winked at me after I complimented his moustache. Yes, that’s true.) just doesn’t seem as evil in the film, and that Ramona’s bottomless bag isn’t really explained as it’s linked to how she gets about through all the dimensional doors and stuff. Still, that doesn’t stop it from being hilarious when she manages to pull the world’s hugest sledgehammer out of her bag during a fight scene, obviously poking fun at video game characters that walk around with huge great weapons that are unseen until you actually use them.

Essentially, everything that needed to be in the film was there – there was enough explanation behind each of the characters to not leave any holes in the plot; the humour, the visuals accompanying actions and even the best lines from the books were included; actual panels from Bryan Lee O’Malley’s books were used at certain points, and the whole of the film was generally enjoyable from start to finish without really slowing down too much. Each of the fight scenes with Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes was as crazy and ridiculous as you expect them to be. The ending of the film was slightly different from how I expected it to be from the book, but that itself was almost to be expected. The final fight with Gideon Graves is truly epic, but then everything gets shook up when the “Nega-Scott” turns up. But, the way that it ends with Scott arranging brunch with him next week is a veritable stroke of genius to ending the scene.

In short, I loved Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It was pretty much everything I expected it to be, and it’s almost entirely incomparable to other films in its visuals and style. I would say to anyone seeing this film that you should definitely read the books, either before or after the film, as it will put the film into more perspective and make you enjoy the books even more. Like I said, there’s no point in comparing the film to the books too much, but it’s clear that the film captured a lot of what made the books so great to read. I even loved the way that the film got rounded off with Scott and Ramona heading off together in a similar way to the book, though the means as to how they got there was not what you expect. I’m giving Scott Pilgrim Vs The World a well-deserved 9 out of 10, even if it’s just for the fact that Bryan Lee O’Malley’s books are the best thing to happen to my eyes, ever! The film is awesome (easily in my Top 3 of the year!), and everyone should give it a go, even if it’s just to see what all the fuss is about!

LISTED Film Previews – August ’10

Once again, here be another bunch of cinema releases happening soon that I’d really like to go and see, but will probably not actually get the chance to do so. *Sigh* oh well, such is life I suppose. HOWEVER, I have made special arrangements with people as far as Scott Pilgrim goes, so expect me to be jumping around like spring on E by the time that gets released! Anyway, enjoy…

THE LAST AIRBENDER (PG) (Dir. M. Night Shyamalan)

Based on the kids cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang (Noah Ringer) is the last of the Air Nation Nomads and the successor in a long line of Avatars who have the ability to control all four elements. After being frozen, he is found by two siblings from the Water Tribe (including Jackson Rathbone from Twilight Saga), and his training begins for his ultimate task – to defeat the Fire Nation Lord and the scarred Prince Zuko (Dev Patel), and end their century-long war on the other three nations. This film might not be the most substantial release of the year, but it will definitely provide some cool effects and entertaining fight scenes, as well as being the biggest 3D release of the year alongside Toy Story 3, so it’s worth checking out for fun. Released August 13th.

THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE (PG) (Dir. Jon Turteltaub)

The second film of the year (along with Prince of Persia) which will further make Jerry Bruckheimer a formidable force in Hollywood, this film also comes from the same director/producer team as National Treasure. Nicolas Cage is Master Sorcerer Balthazar Blake, who recruits a seemingly average guy (Jay Baruchel) to assist him in his quest to keep New York City safe from his arch-enemy Maxim Horvath (Alfred Molina). Expect kids and adults alike to be thoroughly entertained by the storyline and visuals of this film, to the extent that it might be successful enough to earn itself a sequel and Nic Cage a better reputation. The tagline reads “It’s the Coolest Job Ever”, and from the trailers that seems all too true! Released August 13th.

SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (12A) (Dir. Edgar Wright)

Quite possibly the sleeper hit of the year, Scott Pilgrim is adapted from the series of comedy anime books centred on the layabout musician of the same name (Michael Cera) who falls for the new girl in town, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Only thing is, in order to properly date the funky-haired girl of his dreams, he must first fight (and defeat!) her Seven Evil Exes. Trust me when I say that this is going to be a comedy unlike anything else you have seen, combining together the best parts of the comic (literally, with “comic” text accompanying actions throughout) with awesome effects and the director of Shaun of the Dead backing it to make one single epic entity! Definitely catch this if you like quirky comedy of a different kind! Released August 13th.

THE EXPENDABLES (15) (Dir. Sylvester Stallone)

A film directed by Sly Stallone himself doesn’t sound like the deepest, most thought-provoking film in the world. But when it’s one that stars pretty much every significant action star of the last few decades, how can you really NOT be tempted to watch it? Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren are a team of mercenaries dispatched to South America to overthrow a dictator. Don’t be mistaken – this is going to be a big film! Released August 19th.

As published in Listed Magazine Issue 30 and on www.listedmagazine.com