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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LISTED Film Previews – July 2011

And so, another summer of massive blockbuster hits is apon us. But for those of you out there who are confused by it all, running around screaming “What, oh what, should I spend my hard-earned moola on to have a good time at the cinema??”, get help. You’re running around screaming to yourself, and it’s not healthy. The people in white will be round shortly to catch you with a giant butterfly net, and I hope for their sake you go quietly. For the rest of us sane people, here’s a short guide to the big films coming your way over the summer months. Enjoy:

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART II (12A) (Dir. David Yates)

The final instalment of the Harry Potter series will bring a close to all of the events from the past seven films in a grand finale which will see The Boy Who Lived confront He Who Must Not Be Named when Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts to destroy Voldemort’s final Horcruxes. Ok, so a majority of the world will already know how it ends by this point considering the popularity of the books, but that doesn’t mean this will be any less of an ending. Even the trailer for Deathly Hallows Part II is full of effects and suspense, and that’s only two-and-a-half minutes long – AND has dragons in it! While the first part may not have had all that much happen up until half an hour from the end, we all have to remember that Deathly Hallows Part I was mostly just a pre-cursor for the events that come together in this one. Do not take this for granted – this will be the ending of an era as far as this franchise goes. While other aspects of the Harry Potter world are being milked for all they’re worth (like The Harry Potter Theme Park), the films will be the beginning and the end of all the hype. As such, anything less than a truly massive, epic, Star Wars-meets-Lord Of The Rings battle to end all battles will just be a disappointment. Even if you lost the plot after the fourth film, Deathly Hallows Part II will hopefully be the ending a generation will remember. Miss it at your own peril! Released July 15th.

CARS 2 (PG) (Dir. John Lasseter/Brad Lewis)

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his pit boss Mater and crew are back for more great Pixar animation after the success of the Cars Toons series. This time round, the gang enter the Race of Champions – a multi-national competition taking them across several different countries. But at the same time Finn McMissile (Michael Caine), an operative from the British Intelligence, wants Lightning to take part in the race to help them uncover a threat to the world’s safety. It’s undisputable how much the Cars series has profited from the merchandising of the toy lines, seconded perhaps only by Toy Story, so it’s easy to see why a sequel got made. But on the flipside the line-up of star voices, the quality of animation and the one-liners from Mater make it hard to dislike Cars 2, so this will likely become another big hit for Pixar. Released July 22nd.

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON (12A) (Dir. Michael Bay)

After the laughing stock Revenge of the Fallen made of the franchise, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Dark of the Moon could just be more of the same from Michael Bay – turning what was once a legitimate, classic animation into something that involved characters trying to appeal to the young generation, and failed. Also, it had Megan Fox. The good news? Dark of the Moon looks like it could well have corrected all the mistakes the franchise has made thus far. And it doesn’t have Megan Fox. During the space race between the USSR and the USA, there was a mission to find something that had crashed into the surface of the moon – something not of our world. Now, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and his alliance with Optimus Prime and the Autobots will be put to the test against a common enemy – Shockwave. Dark of the Moon promises to delve deeper into the mythos of the toy line, while also developing the human characters relationships at the same time. Also, the sheer size and budget of the effects for this third instalment look like they could dwarf the previous two in comparison, so the fact it’s being released in IMAX 3D as well could make it the visual phenomenon of the year. And it doesn’t have Megan Fox! Check out the latest trailer for just a taste of the huge-scale action that goes on. Released July 1st.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (12A) (Dir. Joe Johnston)

The final piece in the puzzle before The Avengers assemble next year is finally here. After being deemed unfit for military service in World War 2, Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) signs up for a top secret military research program and is given the Super Soldier serum. He becomes the armed forces secret weapon – Captain America, The Sentinel of Liberty. In his first mission he has to tackle the Nazi operations of Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), also known as the diabolical Red Skull, who is out to track down an all-powerful Cosmic Cube to throw the balance of power in favour of the Fuhrer. Originally, it looked like Thor would be the top-seller for Marvel this year due to Captain America being set solely against the backdrop of WW2 America (almost like a cross between Superman and Pearl Harbour) and could risk losing some audiences. But after seeing the way Cap throws his stars and stripes shield in 3D, and the fact that Joss Whedon is on board as co-writer before directing The Avengers next year to tie everything together, Captain America: The First Avenger could turn out to be the big hit of the summer for Marvel Studios. Released July 29th.

BEGINNERS (12A) (Dir. Mike Mills)

75 year old Hal (Christopher Plummer) decides after decades of being in the closet to tell his son Oliver (Ewan McGregor) that he is gay and has a younger lover but, at the same time, has terminal cancer. Writer/director Mike Mills might well be on to a winner with the premise of this movie and it’s likely to become this year’s breakout hit. It’s a poignant story with lots of interesting characters and development, but with plenty of comedy to balance out the drama at the same time. Plus, you can definitely expect good performances from both Plummer and McGregor as a duo in this! Released July 22nd.

As Published in Listed Magazine an on http://www.listedmagazine.com

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (May Contain Spoilers)

After the diabolical flop of the second film, I haven’t been getting too excited about the third instalment in the Transformers series. I remember seeing the first one and being blown away by the effects of real-life transforming robots, even though the script suffered from a certain degree of the cheese factor, but the second film ended up being the black mark on the franchise. With Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Michael Bay swore that everything they did wrong in the second one would be rectified for the third, so I made the decision to give it a chance.

After the events of Revenge of the Fallen, Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) the Autobots are working with the US Military on covert operations to keep the world safe while the Decepticons have gone into hiding. Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is out in the world looking for a job along with his new girlfriend Carly (Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley). But a conspiracy from the US moon landing and an Autobot ship that crashed there decades ago brings Sam out of his new life and back into the world of the Autobots. After Optimus and the others find out what the US Government have been hiding from them, they recover their old leader from the wreckage of the crash on the moon – Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy). But after they bring Sentinel Prime back to Earth, Megatron (Hugo Weaving) and the Decepticons make the move they’ve been waiting to make – to rebuild Cybertron on Earth.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon does manage to eradicate a lot of the memory of the second film by going deeper into the mythos of the original action figures and storylines, and manages to pull off a much more interesting plotline by mixing human and Autobot histories together with twists that really aren’t obvious, rather than subjecting people to 2 ½ hours of bad acting and confusing storylines like the second one did and did it with far less annoying characters, even though there had to be a couple to give smaller audience members something to laugh at. The fact that Leonard Nimoy does the voice of Sentinel Prime as well came as a surprise to me as I didn’t know this before I went to the film. But despite how good he is at voicing characters, apparently Michael Bay couldn’t resist having a completely shameless Star Trek Spock quote of “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” in there – not all that clever, but obviously too good to resist.

Then there is the much more impressive replacement to Megan Fox, Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley. Putting aside for a moment (but never forgetting) that she used to be a Victoria’s Secret model, she actually manages to act in Dark of the Moon and comes across as much less annoying than Megan Fox was. For one thing, she manages to OPEN her mouth when she speaks, despite the ridiculous amount of pouting she still manages to do throughout the film. But the fact she’s British does redeem her a little bit from some of the bits that let her down – like towards the end, when she simply stands in the middle of a war zone with destruction happening all around her and stares blankly at something while she puts the pieces together in her mind. Still, at least she’s not Megan Fox.

One addition to this film that I really liked was the idea of robotic “gore” during the fight scenes. While some might argue that it’s a little bit too close to real gore for a 12A movie, what they’ve done for this instalment is add in the idea that if a character gets punched in the face, or shot in the chest or has an arm ripped off, there is engine oil and mechanic lubricants that spray everywhere like blood effects. It’s definitely a clever idea that hasn’t been approached before, but it could spark a debate as to how close to real gore you can get in what is essentially meant to be a kids film.

Even though the storyline is a lot better in Dark of the Moon and the action scenes are shot and imaged much better than the last film, two and a half hours is still an epic amount of time for what you actually get and a lot could have been shaved off the first half of the film since some parts aren’t relevant to the overall storyline and are mostly thrown in for continuity than anything else.

But it must be said, the most unrealistic thing of the entire film (which, let us not forget, has transforming robots that beat the crap out of each other) is that someone like Shia LaBeouf would end up with an ex-Victoria’s Secret model as his girlfriend, whether he’s saved the world with his robot car or not.

Overall, the big budget effects and storyline work well in Dark of the Moon and do for the franchise what was lost in the second film, but it seems there were only a few bits worth seeing in 3D and probably wouldn’t warrant the entire 3D upgrade, but IMAX might well be a different story. Transformers: Dark of the Moon gets 7 out of 10 for redeeming itself after the second film and having a better storyline and cast, but still dragging on in parts.

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