Film Reviews

[FILM] The Simpsons Movie by Allison James

The Simpsons. Once the unquestionable king of cartoon comedy, now currently in its 21st series. It took 12 for it to start declining in quality. Don't get me wrong, it's still watchable, but compared to its glory days 10-15 years ago, it's nothing.The Simpsons Movie is, in series terms, on a par with Series 13-15 - not a wreck, but not hilarious either. It certainly has its moments, but it feels a little too stretched out and at some points it feels like it's trying way too hard to get laughs (here's looking at you, Spiderpig).

In The Simpsons Movie, Lake Springfield is overcome with pollution. A plea from Lisa to the townfolk sees the lake completely fenced off to prevent further, catastrophic contamination. Homer, with the pig he acquired from a Krusty Burger advert, is looking to dump its vast amount of waste quickly to get to a donut giveaway. He chooses Lake Springfield. Alas, the excess polution results in Springfield becoming the most polluted city in America, and the President (Arnold Schwarzenegger, though not guest-voiced by him) blindly chooses a solution which sees the entirety of the city being isolated with a giant, "unbreakable" dome. When the residents discover Homer's to blame for this, they begin a manhunt which ends when the Simpsons discover a sinkhole in their back garden that sends them underneath and out of the dome.

Summary of the rest of the plot - Homer wins a truck (their car, of course, lost in Springfield), move to Alaska, Marge and the kids go back to try to save Springfield, Homer gets lonely and goes back also, and, well, Series 20 followed, so you can figure out if it was a success or not.

So, will regular viewers of The Simpsons be disappointed by the movie? If they've not seen much of the newer stuff, yes. If they have, probably not - it's an improvement on the recent episodes. I wouldn't go so far as to recommending The Simpsons Movie, but if you see it at a low price on DVD somewhere (I got my copy for £5), it's worth watching.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIawszTxNG4]

(61%)

[FILM] The Warriors by Allison James

Note: the copy of The Warriors I own is the DVD of the Ultimate Director's Cut, which is said by the director to be different in certain aspects to the original. The comments I make may not be applicable to the original version.The Warriors is a film from 1979 which focuses on gang culture in New York. It is said by the director, Walter Hill (48 Hrs, Aliens) to take the subject in a futuristic, comic-book way.

The setting of the film is, as said, New York. In this fictional New York, there are around 200 gangs, each controlling their own area (or "turf"). The film begins with representives of 100 of these gangs, including the gang the film looks at, The Warriors, going to a mystery meeting run by The Riffs, the seemingly most promonent gang. The Riffs leader, Cyrus, gives the peaceful crowd a speech about how, if they teemed up, they could easily outnumber the NY police force and run it all. This speech is interrupted when the leader of another gang, The Rogues, shoots and kills Cyrus, then frames it on The Warriors. Most of the remainder of the film focuses on The Warriors' desperate, weaponless return to their turf, and the encounters with enemy gangs they make along the way.

It's a film anyone can enjoy. There's next to no complexity in the plot - the previous paragraph is pretty much all there is to it, but their encounters with other gangs all lead to different results. For example, the 30-strong low-down gang The Orphans seem to have the Warriors outnumbered, until they throw a petrol bomb at the nearest car and blow several of them up. At another point, they have to outrun a gang called the Turnbull ACs to get to the train home in time - the ACs are sporting a large grey bus and a host of melee weaponry.

It's an action film where the entertainment comes as much from the range of characters in the Warriors (the womanising Ajax, the newbie Rembrandt, the serious leader Swan etc) as the stuff they have to endure on their venture home. It comes recommended. And, if you enjoy it, the 2005 videogame out on PS2, the original Xbox, and PSP, serves as a prequel to the story, showing the backgrounds of the characters in the film, as well as being a decent game in its own right.

Here's a trailer of the film, and a trailer for the game too for good measure.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV4cgs-bPic]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kjFVBlo6-s]

(89%)

[FILM] Up by Allison James

To me, "Disney/Pixar Presents" is a seal of quality. There has not yet been a film under their name that I haven't enjoyed. If you ignore A Bug's Life, there has not yet been a film under their name I haven't found near-flawless. This is, in a way, a bad thing though - every time I'm about to watch their newest release, I have this small feeling of dread - their films often have premises which, with any other producer, would probably be absolutely terrible. Up was no different - an old man in a floating house?!But... it worked. Once again, Pixar took a frankly stupid premise and turned it into a gem. I'm going to say this was their best film - it wasn't (WALL-E still holds that trophy to me, with the critically shunned Cars a close second), but it was still a brilliant film.

The plot goes like this - Carl Fredricksen is an old chap living in a small bungalow, which holds memories of his passed love. Her passing is covered at the start of the film with a sequence which summarises their relationship from childhood to pensionerhood (if that's a word). Now, his district is being plowed down to make way for a city-like area. Unwilling to lose his house and be taken into care, he purchases thousands of balloons which result in the entire building, with him inside, taking off. Of course, to give the film a little character drama, a young scout happens to have been on his doorstep as the balloons were released. Most of the film sees him using home-made curtain wings to direct the house towards Paradise Falls, a place his lover had always told him she wanted to go.

Of course, no Pixar film would be without a villain. Up's comes in the shape of a multiple dog-owning famous hunter called Muntz. Though initially friendly to Fredricksen, Muntz turns hostile when he begins to think the pensioner is after a large, unique bird Muntz is looking for to restore his diminished, senile reputation.

A lot of the comedy comes from the fact Muntz's dogs are wearing collars which translate their incomprehensible woofs into understandable English words, and that this allows them to chat and bicker as humans would. Muntz's target bird is also used for laughs - it finds Fredricksen and the boy scout and has some cartoonish characteristics such as a liking of chocolate.

It's a smashing film. As said before, I prefer some of Pixar's older efforts to Up, but am in no way disappointed. They seem to constantly hit brilliant comedic notes and blend them perfectly with clever storylines and, of course, the necessary, cheesy endings. This film can be considered highly recommended, though if you need further convincing, here's a trailer for it.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USpI6Jzl3No]

(90%)

[FILM] Pleasantville by Allison James

Here's the sort of thing the older generation might say: "Films aren't original nowadays". In some ways, it's an agreeable point - the number of action films which do absolutely nothing new is rather high. But, every so often, one is released which has a premise scarcely, or never, seen before. I, personally, have seen nothing like Pleasantville before.Here's the plot. There's a teenage boy (Tobey Maguire) and his sister (Reese Witherspoon). The boy is fascinated with a 1950s black and white comedy soap program, "Pleasantville", in which everything is pleasant. His sister, however, is interested in boys. I won't spoil any of the events in the film, but basically, a series of actions leads to them being sucked into the television and into Pleasantville, where they "become" two of the characters.

As they begin introducing non-pleasant aspects into the village of Pleasantville, such as sex and emotion, things in the world start to change from black and white to colour... then the people engaging in non-pleasant activities do too. The second half of the film focuses on the old fashioned black and white people and the coloured people going against each other.

The film is incredibly entertaining to watch, and very cleverly done. It's a great premise, and the clash between pleasant and non-pleasant (I don't say "unpleasant" because that suggests "bad" - "non-pleasant" can cover emotions like "ecstasy" and "happiness") leads to some interesting results. It was released in 1998, and can be picked up, undeservedly, in most cheap sections of DVD retailers. Highly recommended.

(89%)

[FILM] Brüno by Allison James

It's been a while since a film genuinely cracked me up. Up is the closest I've been all year, I think. So when Brüno came out, I knew what to expect. Brüno, the latest film starring Sacha Baron Cohen, is a lot like his previous film Borat (I won't bother with the subtitle, it's got something to do with Kazakhstan though), one which was shot primary unscripted and with unsuspecting other people. Brüno is pretty much the same, though I got the feeling more of this film was scripted than Borat.So, what does the film entail? Baron Cohen plays a stereotypically homosexual, stereotypically Austrian man named Brüno, who has gone to America seeking world fame. Taking into account the level of controversiality in Borat, you know what to expect. (Spoilers ahead) Happenings in the film include Brüno adopting a black baby (which he swapped for an iPod) called OJ and appearing on an African-American chat show, appearing at a fashion show in a velcro suit and running onto the catwalk attached to several items of clothing, bringing Paula Abdul food served on a hairy, naked man, and seeking help from a Christian "sexuality healer", becoming straight and presenting a straight-only fight club show, only to have his ex-boyfriend climb into the ring and get off with him there and then. Cue hundreds of angry straight audience members throwing their beverages and snacks into the ring in disgust. (End spoilers)

Brüno relies heavily on shock humour to obtain its laughs, so some people will be immediately put off. Others, however, will lap it up.

I guess the easiest way to determine if you'll like Brüno is if you've seen and enjoyed Borat. If you haven't seen Borat, try out the trailer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAGpmNb2xfQ]

It's not the cleverest film around by a long shot, and some parts are a little nasty, but I got the laughs I wanted. It's a good, love-it-or-hate-it film, if not quite as good as Borat. (78%)

Charity Shops are the Tits by Allison James

That sums up what the majority of this post will encompass.Had to wake up at 8am today (when you've fallen into the habit of sleeping between 6am and 2pm that's a kick to the nuts) to go with my mum to Diss (closest town to here) to withdraw money to pay bills and stuff. Anyway, Diss is a small town, but it has a huge amount of charity shops. Quite a few people no doubt look at charity shops and die a little inside. I know a couple of my friends that won't buy anything unless it's new. I consider myself more sensible, though.Charity shops, to me, are the key to legally downloading near-free films. Put it this way - I can walk into a charity shop, and pick up five old VHS films for £1. That's 20p each. I then have the license to the films, so regardless of the quality of the VHS, I can download their .avi files legally. Easy peasy. Of course, they're not all 20p - it just depends on the charity shop.So today, I bought the following from charity shops:Little Britain Live on DVD, wrapped, for £3Two Mr Bean videos, comprising two episodes each, 29p eachIndiana Jones trilogy (not the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull shit), £2 - later discovered all three videos are wrappedBilly Connolly live show VHS, 20pTitanic VHS, 20pIndependence Day VHS, 20pHarry Enfield and Friends, three episodes VHS, 20pBeing John Malkovich VHS, 20pThe last one, Being John Malkovich, I'd been wanting to watch for a while. I did so earlier today - all I can say is "wow". If you haven't seen this film, next time you see it I'd advise you to buy it. It's stunning.I'm up to 11 levels in The Inverse Man, but apart from that, no new game making progress to report.Another story. About ten days ago I went with my dad to a car boot sale. I love these for a similar reason to charity shops, though with a car boot sale you can get ANYTHING cheap. I have a first edition PlayStation 3, aka a backward compatible one. I gave my dad my PS2 when I bought it since I didn't need it any more - I didn't consider errors in running PS2 games on a PS3 because I'd not experienced any problems five years prior when upgrading my PS1 to a PS2. Anyway, turns out there WERE a fair few problematic games:Ape Escape (PS1): "Press Start" won't recognise the pressing of startCanis Canem Edit: Occasionally freezesMetal Gear Solid 3: Frequently freezesRatchet & Clank 2-3: Runs at about 15FPSSSX3: Works for five minutes in-game then freezesI'd wanted to play all of those for a while now, so when I went to the car boot sale I decided to scout out a PS2.Got one with two controllers for £4. Works perfectly. I also bought a memory card for it, which amazingly cost £6. Sweet imbalance.I also got DRIV3R for £4, Ratchet & Clank 1 for £4, the first two then-WWF Smackdown games on PS1 for £1 each, and two live Al Murray stand up shows.That's pretty much it for this blog. I'll try to balance the game making and life sides of blog entries in the future, though, at times like this, when one is being more dominant than the other, something like this one will appear.Goodbye for now!~NAL