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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X-Men: First Class (May Contain Spoilers)

When I saw the first trailer for X-Men: First Class, I was pretty reluctant to get excited about it. Being a fan of the comic books and original stories, and after enjoying the first two films so much, the look and feel of the trailer didn’t seem to sit quite right with me. There was something about the way Michael Fassbender’s Magneto helmet didn’t quite fit, the way Nick Hoult looked as Beast, and the way the trailer used a lot of shots from the first movie to sell itself. But after realising all these things were for a reason (the helmet wasn’t originally built for Magneto in the plot; Hoult only becomes Beast at the end and there is a lot that ties this in with the first X-Men), I started to warm to the idea of an “origins” movie without it actually being another X-Men Origins – frankly, one of those was enough!

In 1944, Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lensherr (Michael Fassbender) lead very different lives, but they are both discovering incredible powers from genetic mutations. Years later in 1963, they unite with a common goal – to find others like themselves with amazing mutant powers and bring them to a safe haven, where they can harness their powers and use them to protect people. But when Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), leader of the Hellfire Club and the man Erik has been tirelessly hunting down, is tied in to military actions in Russia and aims to create the Cuban Missile crisis, Xavier and Erik must gather their new team in order to stop his threat to the World. But in the process, a rift forms in their alliance and sides must be chosen by their new members, creating a struggle between the two former allies.

It may be the fears of an X-Men Origins repeat, but I was concerned that this would be another black mark on the X-Men legacy. However, safe in the knowledge that Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn was in control and Bryan Singer, director of the first two X-Men, was a producer I became more hopeful, X-Men: First Class definitely has a good, solid storyline behind it especially when compared to Origins (in fact, watching X-Men Origins felt like witnessing a movie version of Top Trumps – Wolverine VS Sabretooth = Lose; Wolverine VS Helicopter = Win; and so on), and that made it all the more grounded and realistic. Plus, there are enough cameos to satisfy audiences mostly familiar with the first few films – at one point you see a child Storm and Cyclops, when Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) makes herself look older its Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, and yes even Hugh Jackman appears as Wolverine albeit for three words! While the storyline only plays with bits of the X-Men mythos a little, it mostly remains loyal to the source material and you get to see all the different parts of the X-Men Universe coming together, and that definitely works in its favour.

What I liked about X-Men: First Class, aside from the storyline, is the way the continuity ties in well with the start of the first X-Men, even though for the most part it doesn’t feel like you’re watching an X-Men movie. Having it set against a backdrop of the 60’s gives the whole film an entirely different feel, and it manages to get the look and style of that era without it becoming kitsch-y. What confused me at points was the age of some of the characters, and how they can still be so young later in the film or at the start of the first ­X-Men but even those get explanations, like the way Sebastian Shaw absorbs energy and therefore stays young, and Mystique only ages half as fast as others so she’s still in her 20’s when the first X-Men rolls round.

I was also impressed at how James McAvoy played a young Charles Xavier. You get an idea that in his youth, Xavier was a bit cocky but knew what he was doing, and in X-Men: First Class you see him become a part of the action with the rest of the team for the first time.

One scene I didn’t like so much was when everyone picks their “codenames”. While I appreciate that it had to be included for the benefit of some people who might not be as familiar with the X-Universe as others, and that if this scene had to happen at all it was done in a way that felt at least semi-natural, there’s always something about a “My name will be this and your name will be this” scene that feels a little forced and uncomfortable. Still, the benefit of this is that Matthew Vaughn manages to do it in as swift a way as possible – while it may not be the “I’m Kick-Ass!” scene, it’s still done in a way that eliminates any confusion over characters.

Overall, X-Men: First Class is a worthy addition to the X-Universe, and if they’re going to make more films to tie-in with the first X-Men then doing it in this style and with this cast and crew definitely seems to be a winning combination.  X-Men: First Class gets 8 out of 10 for having all the elements and storylines of a good X-Men film with only the bare minimum of Hollywood cheese.

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.

LISTED Film Previews – May/June ’09

Or, as I have unofficially dubbed it, “Geekfest ’09” for the sheer amount of sci-fi related ventures that the production companies are apparently indulging in this summer! Anyway, as always, I hope you enjoy. (Disclaimer – these WERE written months ago, in advance. So, if any details are not to your liking, or I haven’t portrayed an “accurate” enough picture for you – suck it up! When you’ve only got teaser trailers, a synopsis and a 500 word limit, you dont have much to work with, alright?!)

X-MEN ORIGINS – WOLVERINE: Hugh Jackman is back as the one mutant wrecking machine known as Wolverine in the origin story of arguably the most famous X-Men character ever! Including other characters such as the lady-magnet Gambit, The Blob, the perfectly cast Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool, and Liev Schreiber as Wolverine’s nemesis Sabretooth. Staying true to the original character and storyline, this looks set to please all comic book followers and action junkies – essentially, this is the film X:3 really should have been! Definitely a must-see – Snikt! Released April 29th

DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION: The popular anime series gets its live action Hollywood make-over this year and, depending on its success, could helm the production for many others. A young Goku has to collect the seven mystical Dragonballs before the evil Lord Piccolo can destroy the Earth for his own evil needs. Confusing? This whole film will obviously make more sense and be a lot more appealing for those that were originally into the anime series (when they were about 12), but otherwise it might be best to research it if you’re adamant to see it. Released April 8th

STAR TREK: Resurrecting the popular original ‘60’s series is JJ Abrams, most famous for his work on Lost and Cloverfield. But don’t expect any mysteries and double-meanings in his work this time, just s sheer effects driven re-imagining of the series that put geeks on the map! Starring Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk, Zachary “Sylar” Quinto as Spock and (rather interestingly) Simon Pegg as Scotty, this film shall boldly go where no film has gone before (And not to mention, splitting those infinitives!). Released May 8th

TERMINATOR – SALVATION: Taking place years after T:3, Christian Bale takes up the mantle of future saviour John Connor as he continues to struggle against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future he has been raised to believe in may be altered in part by the appearance of stranger Marcus Wright. What does he have to do with the future of Skynet? How does his life affect Connor’s? Will they be able to stop Skynet again before humanity is doomed? Will there ACTUALLY be any Terminating in it? Only time will tell. Released June 5th

ANGELS & DEMONS: An adaptation of the highly successful prequel novel to The DaVinci Code has now been made into a, erm, sequel of the last film, which is almost as confusing as the book was. Regardless, Tom Hanks returns as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, this time working to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican by the ancient brotherhood Illuminati. Released May 15th

TRANSFORMERS – REVENGE OF THE FALLEN: The Decepticons are back – and they want Vengeance! After the first film, Starscream returned to Cybertron and gathered Decepticon forces to attack Earth. But this time, Optimus Prime and the Autobots are ready and waiting with forces of their own, and working together with the international armies! If you thought the first one was good, or just enjoy seeing giant robots smashing the snot out of each other, make sure you see this – trust me, it’s more than meets the eye! (Oooh, no he didn’t! Sorry…) Released June 26th

As Published on www.listedmagazine.com