The Dark Knight Rises (Mark's take)
01/08/2012. Batman is pulled out of his self-imposed retirement to face two villains. Bane is a big bull of a man in a really ugly mask. The other is Catwoman, particularly attractive in her skin-tight suit. The film has more action, more special effects, and more mystical philosophy than The Dark Knight, but less intelligence.
The Dark Knight Rises (Frank's take)
01/08/2012. As a filmmaker, how does one follow up on continuing the excitable exploits of the Batman film franchise and expect to top what is perhaps the greatest superhero film of all time in the spectacular The Dark Knight? Well if you are the highly heralded Christopher Nolan then you will instinctively find a way. Hence, the explosive and dynamic The Dark Knight Rises is certainly not a bad way to start.
Ted (Frank's take)
01/08/2012. It was a matter of time before subversive writer Seth MacFarlane took his brand of off-kilter, twisted imagination to the big screen after years of treating television audiences to his brash long-running prime time Family Guy cartoon. In Ted, MacFarlane’s (who incidentally provides the voice for the cuddly-looking, caustic titular toy) off-colour joke is clear: take a seemingly innocuous childhood icon—the teddy bear—and turn him into a flippant playboy at will.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Frank's take)
01/08/2012. America’s favourite web-slinging wonder is back for some exciting summertime action in the heralded rebooted film franchise of Stan Lee’s celebrated comic book wall crawler. In The Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel’s web-headed hero marches to the same beat of adventure, angst and adulation but there is a sense of freshness and purpose that is also distinctive from its animated predecessors.
The David Gemmel Legend Awards for Fantasy 2012
01/08/2012. Friday 15th June 2012 saw many of the illuminati of the fantasy community gathered at the headquarters of the Magic Circle in London for the fourth year of the presentation of the Gemmell Awards. Publishers, writers, artists, critics and other hangers on arrived, not only to find out who the winners were but to honour the man in whose memory they are awarded.
Is science fiction an obsession?
01/08/2012. To outsiders, people look at our interest in Science Fiction as an obsession, mostly because it takes up so much of our lives, yet no one accuses sports fans as being equally or even more obsessive with their hobby. Then again, with wall-to-wall sports on television and people dressing in team colours just means a larger number, not that they’re any better.
Anti-Gravity: The Ups and Downs and its problems
01/08/2012. where he stands by: GF Willmetts. To understand anti-gravity, one has to understand what gravity is in the first place and that is tricky. In its most broadest sense, gravity is the attraction of two bodies to each other. If you leap in the air, you will fall back to Earth.
Extraterrestrial - Mark's take
01/07/2012. Extraterrestrial is an amiable romantic comedy with a science fiction premise. Nacho Vigalondo follows up his Timecrimes (Los Cronocrímenes) with a lighter touch, neither as taxing nor as rewarding as his previous film. Waking up with a hangover, Julián Villagrán as Julio realizes he does not know the woman he has been sleeping with. He also slept through the coming of a giant alien spaceship hovering over his city.
Prometheus - Mark's take.
01/07/2012. Prometheus is a spectacular film and a spectacularly frustrating film. Full of earth-shaking ideas, much of the script just does not make even basic sense. It promises to give us at least science fictional explanations for some of the great questions of human existence, but it never has the courage to answer those questions. With tremendous special effects, much of the film is just plain unpleasant to watch. Spoiler warning: I will discuss some of the ideas of the film after the main review. I do not think it will damage the impact of the film, but be warned.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. There was certainly an opportunity missed when conceiving the concocted irreverence behind the historical horror actioner Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer. Naturally the handlers behind his haunting hogwash wanted to tap into an offbeat joke about showcasing the 16th American president of the United States kicking some walking undead blood-sucking butt.
Chernobyl Diaries (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. Chernobyl Diaries continues the tired trend of churning out toothless terrorising tales that bring neither any fresh ideas to the tortured table or generate distinctive debauchery. Generic, recycled and synthetically titillating, Chenobyl Diaries is just another hollow horror show going through the mechanical motions of shock value.
Men in Black III (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. It has been a decade since the last instalment of Men in Black invaded our cinematic sensibilities in 2002. Now ten years later Agents J and K are on the loose yet again to save the world from creepy creatures in the giddy-minded sci-fi chucklefest Men in Black III. No doubt that MIB fans will rejoice in the hyperactive third edition of the frivolous film franchise.
Prometheus (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. Although Prometheus deserves its autonomy as a gorgeous and glossy piece of science fiction filmmaking steeped in imaginative imagery and exquisite escapism the reality remains that it is a promising prequel to the legendary moviemaking masterpiece in 1979’s sci-fi horror show Alien.
Snow White and the Huntsman (Frank's take)
01/07/2012. Favourite fairy tale lass Snow White is getting her fair share of attention at the box office lately. First, she is the subject of the slight and sugar-coated Tarsem Singh’s decorative dud Mirror, Mirror that sputtered more than anything else. Now our childhood diva is getting a more sinister, suggestive makeover in an edgier version of her retelling in the gritty and grainy Snow White and the Huntsman.
The Powers are Champion
01/07/2012. an examination by: GF Willmetts. The Powers Are Champion – a look back at the 1967 TV series and the source of the three Nemesis agents' superhuman powers.
The Internet tailored to your needs?
01/07/2012. Is it just me worrying about this or has it just not occurred to enough other people yet? Sometimes, something insidious creeps into our lives that we take for granted, even if it has innocent intent, before realising its got very negative aspects.
The Avengers (Mark's take)
01/06/2012. This epic superhero film is the fulfilment of plot hints dropped in many previous Marvel films and brings together Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, and Black Widow into a spectacular dustup directed and co-written by Joss Whedon. While the film lacks the visual imagination of Thor or the period feel of Captain America, it has more of a sense of structures on a huge scale being blown up by even bigger explosions. This film can be seen equally well as a piece of literature or as some mindless screen action. It seems to be a real audience-pleaser.
Normal (Mark's take)
01/06/2012. Somewhere in the same category of film as Being John Malkovich is Normal, a new comedy with fantasy elements. Normal is the creation of fledgling writer/director Nicholas P. Richards. While there are plenty of fantasy ideas to build a strong comedy around, Richards does not give us characters we care much about. Too many ideas go nowhere.
A Murder On Snuffworld
01/06/2012. Short fiction by GF Willmetts. Baratty Rabatty looked at the corpse before giving it a gentle kick with one of his hooves to make sure it was actually dead. It wasn’t a normal death authorised by the state. Someone had committed a murder. Normal police policy was to round up all the suspects and have them killed to ensure that the murderer didn’t escape.
Arthur C. Clarke Awards 2012.
01/06/2012. An examination by: Pauline Morgan. The good news is that there is a winner. Jane Rogers won the award for her novel, The Testament of Jessie Lamb.
What you see is what you get. I presume
01/06/2012. One of the books I was reviewing this month, ‘The Self Illusion’ by Bruce Hood, made a telling mark on me as to how people craft fictional aliases on-line for themselves. Thinking about it and outside of criminal activity, you can’t help but categorise as to why and how they do this rather than just being yourself. If you’ve been there and written the book, then treat this as a fresh analysis.
Safe (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. Now folks, here is the dilemma: you knowingly give an overactive puppy one of your shoes to play with as you hope the critter can creatively be imaginative with the footwear until he rips the object to sheds in predictable fashion.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. The buried treasure is certainly not hard to find in Aardman Studio’s spry animated 3-D CGI family fable The Pirates! Band of Misfits. Gleefully high-spirited, irreverent, silly-minded and comically shrewd, co-directors Peter Lord and Jeff Newitt helm this delightfully bouncy buccaneer bonfire with an universal appeal that should rope in the cinematic interests of both the children and grown-ups alike.
Mother's Day (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. It is safe to say that the coat hanger-wielding Joan Crawford from Mommy Dearest has nothing on the menacing mama in the horror sideshow Mother’s Day. Veteran vixen Rebecca DeMornay sinks her teeth into another inspired twisted role as a warped woman with an unstable agenda.
Dark Shadows (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. The Tim Burton-Johnny Depp celluloid collaboration has been a reliable train chugging along the creative tracks throughout the years. The derailment in 2012: the callow costume creepfest Dark Shadows. Burton has always been a peculiar bird with bizarre creativity grounded in cutting edge imagination.
Battleship (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. There have been countless movies inspired by popularised video games. The list is endless in the “video game-to-big-screen” genre. In terms of board games being the blueprint for movie adaptations…well, let’s just say that this particular cinematic concept has not been as ubiquitous as their video game counterparts.
The Samaritan (Frank's take)
1/06/2012. Filmmaker David Weaver’s The Samaritan is a lightweight neo-noir that means well but never musters up enough credible tension to deem it distinctively intriguing. Besides a catchy title and cinema’s favourite reliable on-screen badass Samuel L. Jackson at the helm, The Samaritan misses the mark as a crime caper tiptoeing as a moody psychosexual thriller.
Siren Worlds: the Lure of the Inner Planets
1/06/2012. “Farewell Fantastic Venus!” So wrote Brian Aldiss and Harry Harrison when they penned the title of their SF anthology in 1968; a collection of stories assembled in response to the news relayed by long-range probes such as the Russian Venera and Vega spacecraft: beneath the obscuring clouds, Venus was nothing like Earth.
The Cabin In the Woods - Mark's take
01/05/2012. Drew Goddard directs a film he wrote with Joss Whedon and takes the viewer over a lot of very strange territory even for horror films. While the film is funny and frequently at the same time scary, it also looks at what makes horror films work before it dumps the viewer on the doorstep to one of the great master horror writers (who shall remain nameless). Spoiler warning: I do not think I gave away anything that should bother a viewer, but this is a film that it is best to see knowing as little as possible of what is to come.
The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne (Mark's take)
01/05/2012. Czech animator Karel Zeman, nearly forgotten now, was a genius of the animated film. Here, as his masterwork, he adapts a lesser novel by Jules Verne into a highly creative screen adventure. Showing great imagination on a tiny budget Zeman emulates the look of the lithographs of Verne's early editions and makes his film a pioneer in the style that since has been dubbed "steampunk".
Let The Crime Fit The Punishment
01/05/2012. A story by GF Willmetts. The art of true justice going slightly wrong.
Plausible monkey theory
01/05/2012. As I’ve discussed in the past, we take things like faster-than-light and time travel as a statutory requirement of means in Science Fiction that we take as a given without too much elaboration in stories. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to visit distant stars and planets in a lifetime or conduct adventures in different time periods using people we might recognise and do things other genres can’t do.
The Moth Diaries (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. One thing is for sure…Hollywood certainly knows how to milk a cash cow. Serving up yet another vapid vampire entry to suck in (no pun intended) the ‘tween crowd, the low-budget gothic horror show The Moth Diaries tepidly arrives on the scene. A banal bloodsucking soap opera looking to shamelessly capitalise on the Twilight sensationalism, The Moth Diaries drains any remnants left of guilty pleasure goosebumps or recycled romantic regurgitation from the fidgety teen scream genre.
21 Jump Street (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. Somehow the warning signs did not look very promising for 21 Jump Street. The regurgitation of bringing back another nostalgic television show from yesteryear would understandably have eyes rolling in back of one’s head. In all fairness the prospect of introducing old television programs that get the big screen treatment for today’s younger audience is not always a bust (witness successful entries such as The Brady Bunch, Star Trek and The Addams Family for example).
Mirror, Mirror (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. Reinventing a familiar and favourite fairy tale that has been told over and over in many various generational television and movie adaptations is taking on a tall order of high expectations. After all, the gamble is a fifty/fifty proposition—either your latest version is considered ambitious and challenging or foolishly recycled and futile. Well, the latter option is probably the more apt selection in this case.
Wrath of the Titans (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. Greek mythology has never been more mangled than the 3-D tepid tale that is Wrath of the Titans. This overwrought and flimsy fantasy is the fragmented follow-up to 2010’s delirious dud Clash of the Titans. Anyhow, Wrath of the Titans is basically wasted energy bogged down in butchered CGI imagery, drab suspense, sleeping pill-induced performances and a dull-minded, manufactured fury that would not challenge the potency of a warm glass of milk as sipped from Apollo’s lips.
ATM (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The USA-Canadian claustrophobic caper ATM is a little confining thriller that derives its psychological kicks from the logistical intimacy of an ATM kiosk where entrapment and nervous twitches should equal instant chills—at the expense of an unknown hooded winter coat-wearing psycho prancing about the vicinity with a sickened agenda in mind.
The Assault (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. French filmmaker Julien Leclercq’s intense-driven thriller The Assault recalls the horrific 1994 hijacking of Air France Flight 8969 at the hasty hands of four Islamic terrorists. The Paris-bound plane was to depart Algiers as the diabolical hijackers had other perverse plans in mind—mainly to crash the plane into France’s world famous symbolic architectural structure The Eiffel Tower.
Lockout (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The sci-fi futuristic fable Lockout is a sluggish slapdish of a space thriller that sputters about without an original bone in its bloated body. Bogged down by shoddy writing, weak-kneed acting, recycled special effects, choppy editing, indistinguishable lighting, a cascade of clichés and a familiar blueprint borrowed from a number of past movies catering to the genre, Lockout is an uninvolving actioner that wallows in its derivative dribble.
The Cabin in the Woods (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The ultra-cheeky frightfest The Cabin in the Woods finally does justice to its overexposed genre by instilling a sci-fi/horror vibe that resonates with fresh thrills, fun-oriented freakiness and a genuine outlandishness that never seems recycled or stale. Simultaneously chilling, introspective and funny, The Cabin in the Woods is joyously off-kilter and vibrantly wicked in its cunning goose-bump gumption.
01/05/2012. Earth Day is celebrated in the spirit as it is intended—to observe and appreciate the wonderment of our exquisite ecosystem. Well, Disney Nature has astutely made its notable tribute to our planet’s environmental cause courtesy of its affectionate nature documentary Chimpanzee, a gloriously quaint and affecting family-friendly movie that shines a touching spotlight on primates both in playful and periled predicaments.
The Raven (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. It is one thing to paint iconic poet Edgar Allan Poe as a mysterious and macabre personality. After all, the conflicted famed writer was burdened with demons that far outweighed his penchant for alcoholism. Poe was admittedly intense yet his written work was inspired by sheer brilliant madness.
Sound of My Voice (Frank's take)
01/05/2012. The haunting and provocative psychological melodrama Sound of My Voice is a stirring venture into the realm of indoctrination. Spellbinding in its provocation, filmmaker Zal Batmanglij’s low-key thriller is quietly disturbing in its fixating mode. Persuasive and probing, Sound of My Voice has a hypnotic-like edginess that feels refreshingly original.
John Carter (Mark's take)
01/04/2012. John Carter is the lacklustre title of Disney's film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's A Princess Of Mars, just over a hundred years old. People who have grown up reading Edgar Rice Burroughs novels (or people like me who have failed to grown up but still have read the novels) will probably be startled at the imagination of this epic production. Newcomers and even some non-newcomers may find the story more complex and harder to follow than one would expect from the adaptation of a pulp fiction science fantasy. The viewer should not expect a great story-- perhaps not even a comprehensible one. But it is fascinating to spend time with this visualisation of Burroughs's Mars/Barsoom. Somehow a novel that just seemed like silly fun is transformed into an epic film.
Safe House (Frank's take)
01/04/2012. The overactive, topsy-turvy cliché-ridden South African espionage thriller Safe House presents a swagger that is undeniable. It has an impressive cast led by the charismatic two-time Oscar-winning Denzel Washington. Newcomer filmmaker Daniel Espinosa dutifully incorporates dizzying camera shots and angles to give his excitable exposition some sense of tension-filled urgency. Seemingly, the key elements are there for the making of an intensified actioner ready to pounce on the audience’s sensory mode. Given this introductory breakdown, why does Safe House still come off as a fly-by-the-numbers sensationalistic suspense piece mired in juggernaut conventionality?
Silent House (Frank's take)
01/04/2012. Filmmakers Chris Kentis and Laura Lau tag-team on yet another derivative frightfest that…you guessed it…is etched in tiresome familiarity. The set-up: a periled pretty young gal and a haunted house as her tormenter. Talking about your basic blueprint for a horror movie premise, huh?
A Thousand Words (Frank's take)
01/04/2012. Veteran funnyman Eddie Murphy continues to partake in these woeful assembly line comedies that predictably register with a big thud. Murphy’s latest yuck-it-up monstrosity—A Thousand Words—certainly will leave one hopelessly speechless. Convincingly unoriginal, desperate, lazy and thoroughly insipid, A Thousand Words is utterly painful in every syllable.
From Time To Time
01/04/2012. This is a kind of ghost story, but it is not a scare-fest. It is a reserved but compelling adventure involving ghosts and time travel as a World War II era boy finds his family's mansion is a gateway to a mysterious past that holds family secrets. It was written and directed by Julian Fellowes, who won an Academy Award for his writing of Gosford Park.
The Hunger Games (Frank's take)
01/04/2012. Undoubtedly eager fans and followers with have a ravenous appetite for the competitive and combative thriller The Hunger Games, a high-minded cat-and-mouse caper that pits young folks against one another in a high stakes contest of survival and savagery.
01/04/2012. Fiction by: GF Willmetts. A short story about the problems of what to call a scientific law.
The face value of things.
01/04/2012. Considering the number of times you’ve seen me analyse all things Science Fiction and the occasional foray into the real world, you would think that I’m probably one of the few who don’t take things at face value and certainly not rely on faith alone. Oddly, that isn’t so.
The Secret World Of Arrietty (Mark's take)
01/03/2012. By being less bizarre than Spirited Away and having more of a human center to the film, The Secret World Of Arrietty is one of Studio Ghibli's best efforts to date. Adapting Mary Norton's frequently filmed novel The Borrowers, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi gives us a world in which tiny people live in the walls of houses, borrowing food and tools and hiding from the big people.
Truth or consequences.
01/03/2012. Science Fiction isn’t about predicting the future but showing the consequences of the present if it was taken to a particular conclusion. If you’re lucky, you might see a solution to the problem or at the least the inherent dangers. With SF starting off in a big way in the 40s and 50s and a major depression, showing doomsday scenarios made a lot of sense. If you thought that present was gloomy, would you really want the future that it leads to better or worse?
No Second Chances
1/03/2012. A story of chance by: GF Willmetts. A time travel tale, ‘No Second Chances’, about what happens when String Theory runs out of options.
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Frank's take)
01/03/2012. Co-directors Mark Neveldine and Mark Taylor found their twisted niche overseeing the hyperactive octane Crank film series while unleashing an unstable balding one-man wrecking crew Jason Statham onto an adrenaline-powered audience. Granted the Crank franchise was perversely over-the-top in its bid for a cockeyed rush of outlandish thrills. Still, it satisfied its hormonal fanbase with imaginative and exaggerated gusto.
Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol (Mark's take)
01/02/2012. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol still does not have the hang of what made the TV show so good. Instead of an intelligent puzzle for the viewer, it offers mindless excitement in one action stunt from Tom Cruise after another. But given that it is a Tom Cruise vanity piece and a mindless action film, it is one of the best mindless action films of 2011. Considerably better than the previous entries of the "Mission Impossible" series formerly animation director Brad Bird gives us quite a ride in his first live-action film. The film is a mixed bag of elements, but some are very good.
Dreaming while wide awake
01/02/2012. Writing stories is akin to dreaming while wide awake, except it’s depicted in words rather than dream images. It’s often said that everyone has at least one decent story in them. The problem a lot of the time is finding it. You should see my own ideas file as I’m still looking.
Whatever happened to the Megalomaniac?
01/02/2012. Wanted: Megalomaniac. Must be prepared to sit in a chair and look menacing. Desire to rule the world a must. Being totally ruthless as asset. A speculation by: GF Willmetts.
Hugo (Mark's take)
1/1/2012. There is a phantom haunting the Paris Train Station. Twelve-year-old Hugo lives in the walls of the station and maintains all the mechanical clocks. This film is about him, but also about a lot more. This is much more than a children's film about a little boy. Beautifully filmed in 3D it, turns into an education for the viewer on a subject near and dear to director Martin Scorsese's heart.
Miss Minoes (Mark's take)
01/01/2012. A cat is accidentally turned into a beautiful woman by a toxic waste accident. Minoes, now Miss Minoes, befriends a failing newspaper reporter and uses her network of cat friends to help get the reporter the news stories he needs. Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt's 1970 children's book Minoes is adapted for the screen by director Vincent Bal who also co-authored the screenplay. The result is a rather slight but pleasant family fantasy film.
01/01/2012. A quick summation by: Geoff Willmetts. The Doctor likes returning favours, especially after landing on the Earth in a spacesuit as he scuttles a spaceship in 1938. With the helmet on back to front, a helpful neighbour, Madge Arwell, gets him to a convenient police call box. DON’T READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE 2011 YULETIDE STORY!!!
If mobile phones can do everything, what is the point of having a human around using it?
01/01/2012. In the past century, any media representation of the future tended to centre on labour-saving gadgets so we would have more time to do other things. Now, here we are in a future where we actually have a lot of labour-saving gadgets and I’m wondering what people are doing with all that extra time?
Something In The Missing Detail
01/01/2012. A ponderance by: GF Willmetts. Has anyone every wondered how Scott Tracy gets out of Thunderbird One when he’s on a rescue? After all, there’s no sign of a ladder and the fuselage has to be at least eight feet up from the wing landing gear. Although quite what the Hood is standing on when taking photographs of the interior in ‘Trapped In The Sky’ isn’t revealed.
The Strange Case Of Angelica (Mark's take)
01/01/2012. This film is a Portuguese fantasy written and directed by Manoel de Oliveira. The pace is operatic and slow enough so that there is not much story here. Some dreamlike photography and a soothing musical score are pluses but slow, draggy telling is likely to frustrate the viewer and pay off with far too little reward for the effort of watching.
Stephen Hunt's novels - USA