Movie Reviews – Geekshow Your hub for geek related podcasts. Home of GeekiNtertainment, The BuffCast, Two Geeks, True Believers, MeteorGEEK!, and the AngelCast. Fri, 08 Jul 2016 05:00:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 SuperGeeks Extra—Expendables 2 Sun, 19 Aug 2012 23:16:17 +0000 Join Jeff, Blue and guest host Shawn as they explode and destroy in this gun-toting, high adrenaline, testosterone pumped review of Expendables 2.  Join us for a Spoiler Free discussion and then a full Spoilers discussion.  Check it out!!

Be part of the show:

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SuperGeeks Extra—The Amazing Spiderman movie Fri, 06 Jul 2012 17:32:51 +0000 What happens when 2 Batman fans review “The Amazing Spiderman” movie?  How will these “Dark Knight” lovers review the new Spidey reboot?  Check it out as Jeff and guest host Scaps discuss their thoughts on the new movie.  Join them and leave your own comments and thoughts!!

Be part of the show:

  • Comment on the website.
  • Leave us Itunes reviews.
  • Email us at the email address:
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New Sofadogs Commentary Part Two Mon, 19 Mar 2012 07:42:57 +0000 John Pavlich and Hayley White recorded a commentary for the 2006 conclusion to the ‘I Know’ trilogy, “I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer”.

Yep, that happened too.

Putting the final nail (hopefully) in the coffin of the Killer Fisherman trilogy, we are nothing if not completists with this one. We discuss our feelings on pulling pranks, ADR and the struggle of trying to do something different in a pre-established series, while also being trapped within that territory.

Head to John’s Sofadogs Podcast site here to check it out and feel free to leave comments below.

New Sofadogs Commentary Part One Mon, 19 Mar 2012 07:29:51 +0000 John Pavlich and Hayley White recorded a commentary for the 2000 spoof film “Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday The 13th”.

Yep, that really happened.

John and I love our horror movies so we thought this one would be a lot of fun…the commentary was, the movie not so much. We talk about the art and science that goes into making a spoof movie, what works, what doesn’t and why and how to possibly fix things. We also discuss the ensemble cast including Julie Benz, Danny Strong, Tom Arnold, Majandra Delfino and Tiffani Thiessen.

Head to John’s Sofadogs Podcast site here to check it out and feel free to leave comments below.

Review: COWBOYS & ALIENS Tue, 02 Aug 2011 00:42:31 +0000 Scott Carelli, Matt Smith, and Cassandra Fredrickson review COWBOYS & ALIENS, from director Jon Favreau.

We start our discussion with non-spoiler reviews of the film before falling into a full-on dissection/discussion of the film with heavy SPOILERS. Enjoy!

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Review: SCREAM 4 Fri, 22 Apr 2011 00:56:31 +0000 Scott Carelli and Nick Jimenez review and discuss the latest installment in the Scream series, Scream 4.

We start our discussion with non-spoiler reviews of the film before falling into a full-on dissection/discussion of the film with heavy SPOILERS. Enjoy!

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To Make Or Remake: 2009 Year In Review Mon, 01 Feb 2010 13:30:55 +0000 Well, at the beginning of 2009 it was heralded by some as the ‘Year of the Remake’ and to a certain extent that is fairly true. To deny that the entertainment industry is not heavily saturated with reimaginings, adaptations and sequels is foolish. It is hard to dispute that such works are becoming increasingly a stock standard part of the way things are done. Whether you love them, or hate them, it appears that they aren’t going anywhere. As they say, there is nothing new under the sun anyways.

But I digress. 2009 had its fair share of what I shall broadly term “remakes” and it is to these I will turn a little attention for this article. I will be restricting this discussion to films that fall into this category as it is the easiest field to deal with in terms of it reaching the broadest audience and the one I can talk about the most.

I have to confess though, that I didn’t really get around to viewing that many of the remakes of 2009. Reports of the ones I have missed, however, appear to indicate that I haven’t really missed anything. Still, hope springs eternal and we all know that everyone has different tastes.

So, here I offer my own personal list of top 10 favourite “remtransformers2posterakes” of 2009.

10. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen

Now I know that many people have issues with this movie and I agree with a lot of them. Compared to many other films, Transformers 2 is not the best movie. It’s a movie about robots that can bend and twist into the shapes of cars and things. At the end of the day, it’s not going to be high calibre stuff.

All that said, visually, this movie is pretty cool. Visual effects have come a long way. Shia Lebouf is an ok actor in the movie, certainly better than Megan Fox, and to some extent you do care what happens between the Autobots and the Deceptacons.

Not the greatest by any means but to see a Transformers movie on the screen again in and of itself is quite pleasing. I suspect that there will be yet another sequel so I hope against hope that the story will be a bit better and I perhaps would like to see a new lead come in and interact with these characters. In any case, I’d watch this movie if it was on but wouldn’t actively seek it out.

X-Men-Origins-Wolverine-pos9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Again, it’s no secret that this remake is not a favourite among diehard fans. Like many I was looking forward to this for a long time but as it got closer I started to doubt a little. I finally got to see it on literally the last day it was screening in cinemas here so I think maybe some of my affinity with this movie is merely from the fact of waiting so long for it to come out and then finally seeing it at last.

I cannot deny that a big plug for me for this movie is seeing Hugh Jackman. There’s no denying that he is a very talented entertainer and after three X-Men movies we have gotten very used to him in the role. That said, by this point, I think they’re flogging a dead horse. In the first X-Men movie he was so tough and kick-ass but now in Origins, he’s kinda wimpy. Perhaps the Wolverine character started out that way before all the government stuff but he still seemed too soft for the character that I remember from watching the cartoon series as a kid.

I didn’t know anything about Weapon X so as the story unfolded for me that was exciting and seeing Gambit was cool, but ultimately the ending was a massive letdown. Weapon X wasn’t scary looking and I wanted to be scared by that character. It was really a case of ‘okay get this fight over with already and end the movie’. So, not great but still okay enough to make my top 10.

my_sisters_keeper_poster8. My Sister’s Keeper

I read the book a few years ago when it came out and as a novel it is just a phenomenal read. Jodie Picoult has such a powerful style as a writer that really grips you as a reader and is very good at switching between different character voices and keeping them all unique. She always picks gripping subject matter to do with moral and/or ethical choices in seemingly impossible situations so if this is your kind of thing and if you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend them.

I didn’t, however, imagine that this story would be made into a movie. As much as it is a dire situation, in many respects it’s also a bit fluffy so I guess that was why it was picked and then pegged more towards the female, mother/daughter kind of audience. In my opinion, Picoult’s ‘The Pact’ would be a much better film because it is a bit darker and meatier a story to delve into.

I absolutely loved Abigail Breslin in this movie. She is just a sweetie in everything that she does and she is so talented. I really hope that she continues to grow in her success as she gets older. I also loved the other young girl who played her sister. She brought a reality and truth to the character that the film needed to be meaningful.

The casting of Cameron Diaz as the mother was a real turnoff for me. I just wasn’t convinced by her at all. She was too young and pretty for the role. On the flipside I thought Alec Baldwin was too old for his character whom I had envisioned as a younger man when I read the book. Worn out by his work, yes, but still younger.

The saving grace of the movie though, and the reason I rate it in my top 10 is because of the way the filmmakers treated the ending. Anyone who has read the novel will tell you that they completely changed the ending between the novel and the film. In the book, you are blind-sighted (or at least I was) by the sudden and dramatic ending that it adds to the beauty of the story and really tugs on your heartstrings. Being a novel and being able to go completely inside someone’s head gives you the ability to do that. For a movie though, the ending would have been far too clichéd and would have been a ‘quick fix’ so as to make a happy ending.

The ending the filmmakers did choose, however, in my opinion is far more realistic and powerful. Having some personal connection to this story I can say that real life stories like this, more often than not, don’t have that happy ending that we all want. People we love do get sick and die and there is little in the long run we can do to change that. Worth the watch. Make sure you have the tissues and if you are up for it, read the book cuz it is a million times better.

alvin--the-chipmunks-the-squeakquel-poster7. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Okay, so this one is yet another sequel made merely to cash in on a pre-established fan base from the first movie. CGI sells big these days, particularly with kids, and it virtually guarantees to draw the crowds in for the summer holiday period.

For me this one is a big nostalgia hit. I grew up watching Alvin and the Chipmunks on tv practically every afternoon for years and I wish the powers that be would hurry up and release it on DVD already. Yes, the story was lame, stupid and pointless. I inwardly groaned when I saw the sleazy producer from the first one was in it to have another crack at it all. I was also disappointed that Jason Lee had so small a role in it in favour of the younger, edgier human sidekick to the boys who really brought nothing to the table. You need that interaction between Dave and the boys.

But being a girl you just can’t go past the Chipettes, although I was a little disappointed that Britney didn’t have as much sass as the character I remembered. Their singing Beyonce was simply adorable even though the content is a little bit inappropriate for the target demographic. If nothing else, you just can’t get over how cute they all are and how largely faithful to the essence of the series it was, particularly now that the characters as in high school.

Definitely worth it for the nostalgia and just a feel-good hour and a half of pure enjoyment for the young at heart.

terminator_salvation_poster6. Terminator Salvation

Yet another disappointment to many, but I confess I really enjoyed it. Maybe it was because I saw it as the first movie at a marathon and the other two films on the bill were really average (Fired Up and Mall Cop) but I liked the action and general storyline of the movie. Christian Bale is a great actor, although a little type cast, and I simply adored Anton Yelchin as Kyle Reese.

I’m not that familiar with the original movies either so I guess that’s why I give this prequel the benefit of the doubt. Visually I like the look of this movie. Its gritty and dark enough for my likings though I admit it probably is too ‘Hollywood’ for most. Perhaps it’s simply because I enjoy the story of an underdog. This isn’t really the story of John Conner. It’s about Kyle Reese. But I fully take on board and can understand the complaints and disappointments about this film already expressed on the various podcasts and articles posted here on Geekshow.

In any case, as for me, I liked it, more so than Wolverine or Transformers anyway.

new-moon-poster5. Twilight Saga New Moon

Once more, shoot me if you must but I am supremely curious as to how this story is being translated from book to screen. Like it or not, Twilight has a huge fan base that cares greatly in a faithful and loyal retelling of the vampire who sparkles and his teenage lover. Probably because I’m female and have had that experience of being so in love with that guy, I have a soft spot for this. Try not to hate me. :-)

sherlockholmesposter4. Sherlock Holmes

This movie was just kick-ass and with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the mix how could it not be? Witty, gritty and lots of action and intrigue. Simply delightful to watch. Now this is by no means a perfect facsimile of the Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned. There’s no tweed in sight and I doubt reformed bad boy Robert was exactly the type of actor he would have had in mind to play the part.

But there is something about this movie that is really captivating. Holmes is a recluse yet brilliant in his reasoning, deduction and accuracy – and it doesn’t hurt that he can pack a good punch when needed! At first appearance this is a supernatural type of story but as you get into it you realise that is a facade. Why is it so intriguing? Elementary my dear Watson, this remake knows how to blend the old with the new in a masterful synthesis that hits the right mark or bringing something fresh to an old favourite.

underworld3poster3. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

This is something my brother made me watch and I’m so glad he did. This movie was great. I didn’t know much about it other than it was about vampires and werewolves, but I really enjoyed watching this story of love, betrayal and the fight to be free. I instantly went out and bought the trilogy boxset on DVD that came with free lycan figurine.

Visually it was stunning and the tone was so refreshing and gritty from the jazzed-up style that is often incorporated into the making of so many films of this genre these days. Sure, there is the obligatory humanising of the demonic characters but even after that they still maintain their ferocity and fear factor. Definitely worth the watch for something against the crowd.

harry_potter6poster2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

What can I say? Harry Potter hit the screen again in 2009 and generally speaking he did not fail at all to disappoint. Like many I am a rampant Harry fan, however, of all the film adaptations of the novels, I must confess this one was not one of my favourite ones. That said; it was still really awesome.

Rupert Grint shines once more as the oblivious boofhead Ron, who is suddenly in possession of the world’s most ridiculous first girlfriend, who good for the actress, fully committed to the role. Poor Hermione! Likewise, it’s great to see Harry and Ginny finally get it together.

Everything we come to expect and be wowed by in a Harry Potter film. Bring on the final two chapters!

star_trek_2009poster1. Star Trek

Easily the knockout hit of remakes in 2009! There is a massive subculture around this particular sci-fi franchise so naturally there is a phenomenal fanbase to draw upon and virtually a guaranteed audience for any new incarnation created. But given that, there is an equally overwhelming pressure for any such incarnation to be faithful, true, accurate and ‘good’ to the dedicated fan of the story.

Fortunately this particular movie knocks all these expectations out of the park in its success. The casting is perfect for each character. Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are simply amazing and bring a new depth and life to Kirk and Spock respectively. I especially liked seeing Aussie Chris Hemsworth in the role of Kirk Senior at the beginning of the film which was an unexpected surprise, and he really showed him chops thru the character.

An absolute epic, the film draws you in from the first minute until the last. It’s a long film, sure, but who really cares? The length perfectly does the story justice so it isn’t rushed or overdone. Best of all, the film knows just how far to take things in a new direction and just how close to stick to all that has already been established.

This one was not only completely worth being made, but added much to an already well-loved story. Even if you would never in a million years consider yourself a ‘Trekkie’, check this one out. You might just fall in love a little bit.


So there you go, those are my picks for the year that was. Still on my list to see are Inkheart, Sorority Row, Watchmen, Halloween 2, A Christmas Carol and Dragonball Evolution to name but a few. I suspect I shall be greatly disappointed but I just can’t help but have a little hope.

At the end of the day, there is something easy and comfortable in watching stories that we are already familiar with and are fans of. Although there is also nothing worse than when such stories are retold in such poor fashion as to make you doubt if you really liked it at all in the first place.

No doubt 2010 will hold its own array of remakes which we can all love and hate in whatever measures we see fit. But if Hollywood is kind, there will be more to love than hate, and the mistakes of the past will be learnt from and moved past. Still, the question of ‘to make or remake’ remains constantly in the background, begging moviemakers to really think about the projects they take on and just why audiences should bother paying any of their attention to them.

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To Make Or Remake: Halloween Sun, 30 Aug 2009 04:22:06 +0000 “Was that the Boogeyman?”

“Yes, I do believe it was.”

Halloween is my all time favourite horror movie. I know the remake by Rob Zombie has been reviewed on GSE before by Scott but I’ve finally gotten the chance to see it and thought I would throw my 2 cents in for what they’re worth (probably less than 2 cents). Not to mention the fact that H2, Zombie’s remake of the second Halloween film, is due to be released very very soon, if not already for some of you, so I reckon some discussion of his first remake is very timely.

Well, being that the original Halloween movie is high in my esteem, I was greatly sceptical and frankly very resistant to the idea of a remake. I mean, you don’t mess with a classic. Leave my fave slasher alone, Rob Zombie! Having said that, I have stuck with the franchise thru all the misguided and poorly presented sequels and so, felt compelled beyond reason to see this movie. For sure it couldn’t be worse than Halloween 3, 4, 5 or 6 right?

But despite my scepticism, I have to admit that Rob Zombie does a fairly decent job at remaking the film. Let me explain. I don’t think I overly like his film, but it is clear that he understands how to successfully do a remake – by doing something different that builds on what has already been done, staying true to the essence of the original, without corrupting it and changing it too much. Whether you love or hate a remake, this is ultimately what a good one should do. It should make you fall in love with the characters all over again and/or let you see different sides of them or the situations they are in.

Daeg Fearch as Michael MyersThe most apparent and successful addition to Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween is the beginning act of the film where the audience is introduced to a 10 year old Michael Myers. There is very little “young Michael” in the original film so it is very captivating to see this young man, even for a brief glimpse, before he commits the savage murders that set him on his course for the rest of the movie.

In a way, Zombie has made Michael more relatable and more human in his retelling by presenting the audience with this sweet little misunderstood guy from a bad family background. Sure Michael sometimes does bad things, but that’s not his fault considering what he goes thru on a day to day basis in neglect and torment… No. It doesn’t really fly for very long as an excuse for his actions, but still, the fact that as a viewer you can question Michael’s guilt in all of it, even for a moment, is a testimony to Zombie’s careful and deliberate retelling of the tale.

The modern Michael Myers is a man with a past, a man with emotions (even if they are seriously screwed up) and is just as worthy of our attention as any other character in the story. In short, he is no longer just a soulless hulking shape bent on killing everything blocking his goals. He is the result of several events and factors gone horribly and devastatingly wrong.

Malcolm MacDowell as Dr Samuel LoomisAnother thing I did like about the remake was Malcolm MacDowell’s portrayal of Dr Samuel Loomis, Myers’ doctor. Donald Pleasance was so definitive and powerful in that role so it is quite pleasing to have another actor take up the character and truly make it their own. It’s also nice in this film to have some expansion of the character. Act 2 is really where he gets his chance to be thrust to the forefront in a big way and the audience gets to learn a little more about Loomis as a person and the relationship he has with Myers over the many years between the first killings and the night Michael goes after his baby sister.

This relationship between Michael and Loomis is compelling to watch; especially as it goes from one of (supposedly) innocent intrigue of one another, to a strange bond or friendship of sorts (albeit very short lived), to one of complete estrangement. To some degree this helps cement the idea that Michael has human attributes as you watch MacDowell’s portrayal of a torn and fighting with himself between his fear of his patient and his deep desire to help him. This is in stark contrast to Donald Pleasance’s representation of Loomis who feels little if anything for Michael on a personal level.

Sheri Moon Zombie as Mrs MyersBefore I discuss the “new” Laurie Strode, however, a brief note on the more minor characters in the story. The first and most intriguing is Michael’s mother. The whole casting of her as a struggling single parent with a deadbeat boyfriend and an exploitative job is very well done. This addition to the story adds a new layer of meaning to all that happens. Again it’s that human element that gets underscored but I quite liked it. Her reactions to things plays well against those of Michael, and like Loomis, she is someone who genuinely cares for Michael on that personal level despite the atrocities he committed against their family. That said; I cannot believe after the wonderful job Zombie did in putting her into the story in that way, that he’s bringing her back for the sequel as some sort of stupid spirit. Massive sigh. Stop putting your wife in your films just because you can!

Also worthy of note are Laurie’s two gal pals and the two kids who play Tommy and Lindsey. Thank goodness Danielle Harris has grown up a bit since her last forays into the Halloween franchise. I think she did a good job with what she was given, although the purist in me believes she should have died during the film. O well. Leave it for the sequel I guess. Likewise I think the other actress did okay with what she had to do. The kids were great, especially the little girl who played Lindsey. To me they just seemed very real kids that you would find in the suburbs.

Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode and her gal palsSo finally, I turn my attention to Scout Taylor-Compton – the “new” Laurie Strode. Groan. So close Rob Zombie and yet so far. Looks-wise I think she was a very good choice. I know this is a more modern retelling but I found her a bit too sassy for innocent Laurie. Not that I expected or even wanted the extreme that Jamie Lee Curtis did in the original (that portrayal certainly wouldn’t fly these days), but just the way she spoke with her girlfriends, it was sometimes hard to distinguish her from them, as well as her interactions with her mother in the morning before school was too far out there for my tastes in terms of that character. I did feel like she was a good victim and to a certain degree okay at being the heroine but really, I kinda expected her to die by the end of the film, just because she didn’t seem to have enough of that fire in her stomach to stand up to Michael and fight back. Then again, she did shoot him at point blank range in the head.

Despite my best efforts, I just didn’t overly like this film insofar as much as it was a remake of one of my favourites. In and of itself, it’s not that bad. The fact that it is a remake works against it. Honestly though, if the original film didn’t exist and it just came out as a release then I probably wouldn’t have too much interest in seeing it. While done well in a visceral sense, it’s not my usual preference for horror films. I much rather suspense done well without the need for lots of violence and blood. I think less is more with these types of films. Just my humble opinion.

In any case, I think Zombie’s original Halloween remake is going to be loads better than his new attempt at remaking the second one. Judging by the trailer he has swung too far in that bad direction and mucked up the story so much that it is no longer good. Must reserve judgement until I see it, but as there is currently no release date for it here in Australia, I don’t really mind so much that I will have to wait. Would love to hear people’s thoughts for those who live in a place where it is about to be released.

Rob Zombie's Halloween (2007) poster

Coming Soon: To Make Or Remake Stargate SG-1 – Children Of The Gods

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Inglorious Basterds: What Did You Think? Fri, 21 Aug 2009 23:53:38 +0000 Quentin Tarrantino’s new war epic has been hit theateres. Who saw it?

I did, and I loved it.

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District 9: What Did You Think? Mon, 17 Aug 2009 22:02:43 +0000 District 9 is now in theaters. What did you think about it?

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Nick Reviews Funny People! Mon, 03 Aug 2009 02:17:34 +0000 If Judd Apatow has one flaw, it’s that he cares too much.

The other day I was reading this Time Magazine article profiling Apatow. In it, the writer, Joel Stein, painted Apatow has a sensitive, awkward and sometimes obsessive filmmaker, comedian and artist; the kind of guy that plays through track after on his iPod, searching for the perfect third song to play during the closing credits of his latest film, Funny People. Yes, the third song. Meaning, by the time it begins to play, the only people still in the theatre will either be cleaning the aisles or sleeping. But there he was anyway, playing song after song. There’s something endearing, even loveable, about a guy so unapologetically devoted to his movie.
This kind of love is felt throughout Funny People, Apatow’s raunchy, sweet love letter to stand-up comedy, show business and the women who saved him from Hollywood’s abyss. (These women actually appear in the movie themselves; Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann and the couple’s two daughters, Iris and Maude Apatow.) The film stars Adam Sandler as George Simmons, a man not unlike Sandler himself; a successful comedian turned movie star who has made a lot of money making goofy, feel-good comedies. But Simmons feels good about very little. His mansion is an empty labyrinth of swimming pools, big-screen televisions and unused guest bedrooms. One day Simmons is told by the doctor that he has a rare blood disease and very likely only has a few months to live. George has no true friends, the love his life (Mann) left him years ago after he cheated on her at the height of his fame and he fears that he has accomplished next to nothing worthwhile in his time on Earth, despite his hit movies and comedy records. It’s a dilemma that no doubt hits home with guys like Apatow and Sandler; two guys have made millions of dollars making other people laugh.
With only a short time left to live, George hires a meek, young comic named Ira (Seth Rogen) to write jokes for him as he takes the stage for the first time in years. It’s the anti-bromance; George is mean to Ira, putting him down, stealing groupies from him and making constant jokes at Ira’s expense. It’s this edge that keeps Funny People from turning into mushy, Mitch Albom-esque schmaltz. In one of the film’s most powerful scenes, George is onstage, performing a vulgar, funny song about how when he dies no one will miss him; the song, audience laughter and all, is intercut with images of the illness slowly eating away at George’s health and sanity. When George reaches out to his old flame, Laura, it’s less of an act of true love and more of a desperate cry for help towards the last human who still sees George as a creature capable of love at all.

This all being said, Funny People is still at heart, a sweet and charming comedy about finding the joy in life and the exhilaration of living it well. It’s also very, very funny. Sandler has never been better, turning in a deep, fearless performance that pierces the heart, but is never cloying enough to aim for the tear ducts. Rogen is a fidgety, awkward delight and Mann commands every scene she’s in with dignified, effortless might.
It’s clear that this was a product of passion for Apatow; every frame of this film has a sweet, almost home-movieish touch. Maybe that’s why audiences don’t know what to make of Funny People; it’s still as funny and profane as Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, but it also has a profound, but never preachy, message of making the most of life and surrounding yourself with people and work that makes you happy. I loved “Funny People.” I love it in ways I probably won’t even realize until I’m 20, 30, hell even 40-years-old. It’s alphabet soup for the soul; filled mostly with four-letter words.
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Bruno: What Did You Think? Sun, 12 Jul 2009 15:13:08 +0000 The new Sacha Baron Cohen movie has been unleashed upon the world.

Leave your thoughts and opinions on the film below. Warning: Spoiler Zone!

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Rusty James Reviews Moon Mon, 06 Jul 2009 17:50:26 +0000 No Spoilers

The Moon. For several years now it has illuminated our night sky as well as our imaginations. While some say it merely reflects the light from our Sun, others say it reflects man’s search for purpose in a vast and mysterious universe.
And now one of David Bowie’s kid’s has made a movie set upon this titular celestial plateau.

Far in the future; sometime after the oil lobbies iron fist has unclenched but before apes become our masters; human beings have at last figured out the answer to our energy needs. The solution involves a friendly robot Kevin Spacey, a manned station on the dark side of the moon,  and sending Sam Rockwell’s scruffy ass there to do stuff.
It’s a lonely job but Sam Rockwell’s gotta do it. Actually, I’m not even sure what his job is supposed to be on this space station. Everything looks automated so I’ve concluded he’s just there to keep Robot Kevin Spacey company.
Why this guy? How’d he draw the short straw? And what happens next week when his three year tour is up? These questions and others may be addressed in some manner by the end of the film.

Moon starts off at slow simmer and it took me a while to find it’s grove but once I did I became immersed in it’s spell. The story unfolds with the disarming intensity of a one man, single act play. It’s a claustrophobic introverted drama set against an endless and cosmic back drop. There are emotional heart breaking moments that rival anything in Up.

It’s terse smart sci-fi in the same vein as Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. And while the imagery may not be quite as beautiful as that film’s the story doesn’t derail two thirds in and delivers a satisfying concussion.
This is director Duncan Jones’ first feature film (and he really is David Bowie’s son). Clint Mansel’s (The Fountain)  score drones and hums melodically like a marriage of Radio Head to Carter Burwell. The art direction is austere and sterile  and recalls Douglas Trumbull’s work in 2001 (Did you know there’s an actor in that movie named Glenn Beck? I hope it’s not that same glazed-over cross eyed douche that’s on TV). The effects aren’t state of the art but they’re resourceful and well done. It’s relieving to see practical effects on the big screen again.
It’s a smart, well made film, at once unnerving and entertaining. Sci-fi fans should make it a point to put in on their must see list.

The Infamous Russel James

Even the most primitive of societies have an innate respect for the insane.

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To Make Or Remake: The Dark Is Rising Fri, 03 Jul 2009 13:24:42 +0000 When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back.

When I was in high school one of the first books I remember being made to read for English was Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising. It was one of my first tastes into the world of fantasy and even though we were being forced to study it and so all these homework assignments on it, I really liked the book.

I later found out that it was the second in a series of books and eventually I read the other four in the set. The others were ok but not as gripping as The Dark Is Rising was. It wasn’t unlike the Narnia books whereby the second in the series was the most popular and well known of the sets.

But I digress. Years passed and I forgot all about the book until in 2007 I discovered that it was going to be remade into a major motion picture. By then I was completely removed from the target audience that the movie was being aimed at, and I wondered if it was really worth a look. Now that I have seen the film I can say that it really wasn’t overly worth watching, at least not if you were expecting a faithful retelling of Susan Cooper’s captivating tale of one young boy’s coming of age as an Old One and agent of the Light.

The Dark Is Rising Sequence CoverThe novel The Dark Is Rising is the story of ten (almost eleven) year old Will Stanton. He is the seventh son in the family (in fact he’s the seventh son of a seventh son) and has to jockey for position for everything. Unremarkable as he is, Will can’t help but notice that strange things are beginning to happen around him. The animals are all afraid of him and there’s a strange tramp following him.

The winter cold is closing in and it looks like Will might just get his wish of birthday snow. But with the cold a malicious force is also closing in. The Dark is beginning to rise and as it turns out, Will is the last of the Old Ones of the Light whose charge it is to turn them back. More than that, fellow Old One, Merriman Lyon, informs him that he is the Sign-Seeker who must find all six Signs of the Light before the Dark can if they are to have a hope of driving them back.

It isn’t an easy task for young Will. The tramps is still following him and then there’s the malevolent Rider who tries to thwart his efforts at every turn. But being an Old One certainly has its advantages. Will has powers that he has to learn how to control, as well as times and places he has to visit (quite literally), all of which help him to gain the six Signs of iron, bronze, wood, stone, fire and water.

Will and the RiderUnlike the movie, Susan Cooper’s novel delves deeper into the human condition. As Old Ones, Merriman, Will’s mentor and friend of sorts, reflects often on how humans get caught up by their emotions and how it can get in the way of the things they are trying to achieve. This is seen in great example in teh relationship between Merriman and his manservant Hawkin whom he entrusts to help in a great mission of the Light, but ultimately goes awry and spells the dramatic change of fates of all involved. Without having to go into too much detail, Hawkin feels betrayed by the objectiveness Merriman displays in the task that very possibly could have cost Hawkin his life. As a result Hawkin turns to the Dark and new masters causing great problems as Will’s story unfolds.

Now I understand creative licence and how the difference between the mediums of novels and films can affect the translation of certain materials, but I felt the movie makers really went too far with this one, at least in terms of capturing the real essence of the story and the things that make it so powerful.

Will is no longer turning eleven but fourteen in the film. I really didn’t like this as I feel there was no great need to make the central character older. Perhaps they were trying to steer clear of a Harry Potter-esque model, I don’t know, and I guess that makes sense, but this story has been around so much longer than Harry’s has so why not stick closer to the original? Being now fourteen I guess the filmmakers felt he needed a love interest so they created one in a character whose purpose was very far from that, at least in relation to Will as a character anyway. Again stupid and unnecessary.

Will and MerrimanAnother thing I disliked in the film is that Will and his family are no longer British but American simply living in the country as new inhabitants. Again for the story it made so much more sense Will being a Brit as he had a greater connection to the land and the places in which he was questing, as even throughout all the time travelling he does, it was still the same land he was travelling over even if they changed physically over time.

Like Will, the character of Merriman has changed in some ways for the film that I really didn’t understand. Again perhaps it was an attempt to diverge from the Dumbledore/Potter dynamic as certainly the parallels can be drawn between these two sets of relationships but again I feel it was unnecessary to change things. Still a mentor of sorts, Merriman (in the film) has great doubts about will’s abilities and possibilities of success in his mission. Not to mention the fact that the actor they cast looks physically nothing like the striking description given by Cooper. In addition, Merriman almost seems to play second fiddle to another Old One who was a much lesser character in the novel and for no great reason other than to amp up the female involvement in this tale.

As for the aforementioned tramp (known as the Walker) and Hawkin, Merriman’s manservant, both are mysteriously absent from the film. Though the DVD does contain a deleted scene that features the Walker, there is no explanation as to why these omissions have been made. Frankly I can’t work it out an can only surmise they felt it was too complicated a subplot to go down in the film, which I guess I can understand.

Will, Merriman and Miss GreythorneBut I think the biggest change between the novel and the film is the morphing of Will’s quest for the Signs altogether. There are still six of them, he still has to travel thru time to find them, and he still has to beat the agents of the Dark that are trying to stop him at every turn. But instead of the six elemental Signs, Will has to find five elementals with the final being the soul of a human being. Very strange given the six elements stuff was deeply ingrained in the folklore of the Old Ones. Add to that the fact that Will suddenly has a twin brother he didn’t know about (which makes him the seventh son in the family, not the sixth like he believed) who as it turns out has been held captive by the Rider for years and not missing or dead like the family originally thought.

Having made all these objections, there were a few things about the film that I think were done very well. For one the visual effects were very good, particularly the time travelling and the explosions of fire as Will gets angry over his quest and comes into his full powers as an Old One. These things certainly would have failed in earlier film attempts if they had been made due to today’s advanced film technologies.

Will StantonI also really liked the young actor they cast to play Will. I think he did a really good job with what he was given and you couldn’t help but root for him. Likewsie, while dramatically younger in age than the Gwen described in the novel, the little girl they got to play Will’s sister and confidante was very sweet and talented for her age.

Call me a purist, and I really feel I haven’t commented very extensively in this very long article, but I just can’t get beyond all the changes that were made to the story of The Dark Is Rising between the novel and the film. In my opinion it was only very loosely the same story and the one that came out in the end was only half as powerful and entertaining as the original. Perhaps that is why the film flopped. It just lost something critical along the way.

My advice – read the book, read the whole series even, but don’t bother so much about the movie. Kids might like it but personally I couldn’t help but be massively disappointed. Another wasted remake.

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Discuss the new Trek Fri, 08 May 2009 02:36:05 +0000 The new Star Trek is now in theaters. When you’ve watched it, feel free to stop by and give your opinions. Opinions with spoilers should go in the attached forum thread. Keep the comments spoiler free if you can.

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To Make Or Remake: The Producers Part 2 Mon, 30 Mar 2009 12:29:18 +0000 The lights go up. Intermission is over. It’s Max Bialystock’s latest show…er, sorry, Mel Brooks’ latest show. From a movie that was slow to gain a following, there’s now a successful Broadway show and yet another movie!

Sadly for me, I never actually got to see the show on Broadway. For all who did, I envy you greatly. I think Nathan Lane would have been awesome on stage. But I did see the Australian cast perform the show when it came to Sydney. Therefore I feel I can talk with some assurance about the musical as a whole. 

Being the youngest person in the audience on the day at the tender age of 20, it was a very surreal feeling. Most of the audience for The Producers that day were senior citz, a phenomenon I can only attribute to the fact that Reg Livermore, the actor playing Max, is popular with people in the 50+ age range. 

Cover Art of The Producers SoundtrackBut I digress. When I decided to go see The Producers, I really had no idea what the story was even about. All I knew was that it was by Mel Brooks and that it was supposed to be awesome. I bought the CD soundtrack prior to and listened to it enough to have a good knowledge of the all the songs so that was a plus, yet there were still a few pieces missing, such as what it meant that Ulla was waiting for Leo at eleven. 

Needless to say, the show did not disappoint in any way. It truly was shocking, outrageous, insulting and I really did love every minute of it. The sets were incredible. I liked the way the set revolved back to Max’s office when Leo decided to be a producer and he was kneeling in exactly the same position he had been when Leo left. I still am perplexed at how they had the white replica set of the office after Ulla “tidies up” and how they would be able to have that one last colour spot for her to paint over in white, show after show. 

Speaking of Ulla, I think the expansion of her character was a good move in pushing the story forward. It added an extra element to Max and Leo’s relationship that didn’t exist in the original film. Not to mention the fact that the characterisation of Ulla in the original film as a bimbo merely there for sex appeal and little else, most probably would not fly in today’s culture. And while she isn’t exactly the sort of girl all women would identify with, she does provide a bit more of a gender balance to the story now that she is more prominent. 

The idea of removing the beatnik L.S.D from The Producers is one that I don’t really know how to resolve. In the original film I thought it was an interesting and funny way of sending up Hitler. As I said in part one of this article, I suppose such a character would have been more socially appropriate for the time of the first film, whereas now it might not have worked. Still, Roger jumping in at the last minute to play Hitler is very funny. 

Australian cast of The Producers 2005While it will mean little to most of you, I thought the acting by the Australian cast was majoratively fantastic and in my humble opinion, comparable to the repute of the Broadway cast, with the exception of Bert Newton who played Franz. Bert is something of an icon here in Oz, yet I felt his performance left a little to be desired. It was hard to see past Bert Newton the man and believe in Franz Liebkind the character, something that I found a bit easier though still challenging with Will Ferrell in the movie version. Still, I believe that Bert’s health was not the best during the Sydney run of the show so perhaps that attributed to his less than astounding portrayal of the Neo Nazi nitwit. 

On the other hand, I greatly enjoyed Tom Burlinson’s interpretation of Leo and in some ways I feel it is even better than Matthew Broderick’s. While I have grown to enjoy Matthew’s Leo after many viewings of the film, there is just something about him as an actor that I can’t connect with. I found Burlinson’s pathetic and mouse-ishness as Leo humorous and entertaining while I find Broderick’s at times very annoying and frustrating. 

A further mention must be made of the Australian actor who played Carmen Ghia. Like Roger Bart and his hissing that never ended, the Australian actor decided to extend one arm diagonally up before himself and then move out of the scenery at a literal snail’s pace. Very funny and a very controlled and clever way of putting his own stamp on the character, in my opinion.  

Roger Bart as Carmen GhiaWell, I guess since I have already talked about it a little, now would be a good time to turn my full attention to the film. Indeed there is little more to say about the Broadway version except as to how it compares with the theatrical version that came after it. 

I cannot deny that I simply love the new movie of The Producers, however, there are several elements to it that really do not work in a movie format the way they do on stage. It is these elements that I feel undermine the overall success of the film and are perhaps reason why it did not garner as widespread popularity as its immediate predecessor. 

From the minute the opening musical number starts, flaws in approach can be seen right away. I really think the secret to a successful movie musical is maintaining the illusion that the story unfolding exists within its own little world and that said world has no direct correlation with the real world of the audience. 

The “Opening Night” number doesn’t really achieve this. You feel just as if you are sitting in the audience at the stage show. The way the singers look up and out of sight as if playing to a theatre audience is very obvious and their actions and reactions are over exaggerated in a way that does not suit a film format. 

Der Guten Tag Hop Clop in The Producers 2005Another example is in the “I Wanna Be A Producer” sequence when the girls wearing pearls burst out of the filing cabinets. The “undesirable” girl in pearls simply does not work the way they have done it in the film. On the stage it is funny. You can tell that the actress is the same one who played the homeless lady at the beginning who suddenly pops up in Leo’s fantasy somehow. In the movie, you aren’t reliant on a limited stage cast to play multiple roles and in the translation, the gag is lost. While I understand that the song and dance routine would need to be reworked if this character were to be removed, I think it would have been worth the effort. 

A similar one is during “That Face” where Ulla and Leo rumble around behind the couch and it jostles to suggest their movement. Great on stage, not as good on film. A better gag could have arranged. Likewise when she asks him why he has gone so far camera right as opposed to stage right. 

But to ignore such negatives for now, I think there are quite a few positives in the film as well. I think the relationship dynamic between Max and Leo is a solid one. Both being film actors, I think Nathan and Matthew know how to strike the right balance in their portrayals from medium to medium as well as the chemistry they have obviously developed as actors. Afterall, without getting this element right, well, The Producers would then have become a flop about a flop. 

Max and Leo hatch their planOnce again the sets are stunning, as are the costumes, but due to the magic of the film world, the crew is able to go that one step further and really flesh out this world. The fountain scene is spectacular, even more so than in the original film. And the world inside Leo’s head when he fantasises about being a producer seems limitless now in a way that just can’t be achieved on stage. 

All in all, the question of to make or remake for me is an astounding yes. Sure, there are flaws and things that fall a little flat in both versions. Certainly the film suffers more from this than the stage show, but I think overall these second and third shots at building upon and making better this crazy story of two very different men with a very unique friendship are for all intents and purposes fairly successful and satisfy the sense of wishing to be entertained. 

Could they have gotten away with just the Broadway show and not the second movie? Sure, absolutely. Still, I do like that you can watch the movie again and again at your convenience. And I also like that for those of us who can’t make it to Broadway, we can still get a bit of a glimmer of what the experience might have been like. 

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‘Watchmen’ Out Now! Fri, 06 Mar 2009 15:27:33 +0000 Watchmen, Zach Snyder’s feature film adaptation of the graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, is finally here! Have you watched the Watchmen? Let us know what you thought!

Beware of *SPOILERS*!!watchmen final poster

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To Make Or Remake: The Producers Part 1 Wed, 04 Mar 2009 23:36:33 +0000 “It was shocking, outrageous, insulting – and I loved every minute of it!”

That quote, from the song “Where Did We Go Right?” in the Broadway musical version of The Producers, perfectly sums up how I feel about all three incarnations of this remarkably crude and endearing story. There is so much to cover this week that I have split this one up into two separate articles, so as not to bore you all. 

Well, the first glance that viewers had of this tale was in 1968 when comic genius Mel Brooks had a great idea for a story based on a theatre producer he worked for as a kid who wined and dined old ladies into giving him cheques made out to cash so that he could produce plays. After trying a few different mediums, Brooks realised that his story was best suited in the film format and thus he set about writing and directing his first ever feature, The Producers. Because of the (if greatly delayed) success of this film, Brooks’ career took off and he later went on to make such marvels as Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Robin Hood: Men In Tights, to name but a few. But I digress. The film starred Zero Mostel and a then unknown Gene Wilder, both of whom were cast perfectly for the roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom respectively. 

prod009The plot goes like this. Max Bialystock used to be the King of Broadway. Now he’s a washed up hack who has to romance little old ladies to finance his plays. Leo Bloom is his accountant who, after discovering a minor case of fraud in the accounts of Max’s last play, posits that a producer could make more money with a flop than with a hit. Max embraces his duplicitous nature and embarks the pair of them on a scheme to run off to Rio with a million dollars after producing the biggest flop on Broadway. 

All seems like it’s going to plan: Max is able to convince Leo to leave his humble life as an accountant after igniting his desire to be more in life than someone who counts other people’s money; they find the worst play ever written, called Springtime For Hitler; get the ex-Nazi nincompoop to sign over the rights; hire the gayest director in town to run the show; Max screws over (quite literally) every little old lady in New York to raise the money; they hire a hippie beatnik to play Hitler; and Max gets himself a little Swedish special treat in the form of a secretary who dances like a go-go girl when he tells her to “go to work” to reward himself for all the effort. 

On opening night Max and Leo are as happy as clams – until they hit intermission and the audience makes them painfully aware of how dire things are about to turn out for them! Somewhere along the line all their wrongs have turned out right. Initially shocked and appalled at Springtime For Hitler, the beatnik named L.S.D, shows the audience a riotously funny side of the fuehrer that makes them hail the show as the funniest thing on Broadway. The flop has flipped and Max and Leo are in serious trouble. The “neo-Nazi nitwit” Franz Liebkind, the author, threatens to shoot them, however, Max talks him out of it.  They need a way to close the show and they need it fast, or else Max and Leo are going to go straight to jail. 

prod016The three of them head down to the theatre and try to blow it up. Instead of getting away, Max and Leo are caught by the authorities. The judge is moved by their unlikely and heartfelt friendship so decides not to separate them and sends them both to Sing Sing Prison. There the movie concludes with Max and Leo conducting the prisoners in another musical and running the same scam yet again. 

At the time of its release, The Producers was not at all a popular movie. Still very close to World War Two, people just didn’t find the whole subject matter very appropriate or worth investigating. The fact that his script was initially titled Springtime For Hitler, may have contributed to this feeling. Brooks maintains that people simply didn’t get it; that to fight a dictator like Hitler, the only way to do so successfully was to bring him down with humour. It was only after an accidental screening of the film by renowned comedian Peter Sellers that he jumped on the bandwagon and drew in the masses after placing a large ad in the newspaper describing how good he thought the film was. Then the audiences flocked to see it – and they finally got the joke. 

Zero Mostel as Max Bialystock is fantastic. He is larger than life, boisterous, overbearing, yet charming and hopelessly devoted to being unscrupulous in a bit of an amateurish way. Underneath it all there really is a good heart to the man, and that is shown in his relationship with Leo. 

And Leo. He is a fascinating character. More of a mouse than a man, as Max describes him; he is awfully trapped by his own insecurities and phobias. The idea of taking a leap and making himself vulnerable to something potentially great scares him to death. But Max takes him under his wing and shows him that not only is Leo capable of greatness but that he is a genuinely decent person who really deserves it. Absolutely unknown at the time, Gene Wilder gives a fantastic performance in this film. He is completely neurotic and insecure, mousy and easily frightened, yet genuinely pure, naïve and well intentioned, despite his involvement in the scheming that goes on throughout the movie. 

Max, Leo and FranzI also cannot fail to mention the completely marvellous casting of Kenneth Mars as Franz. In a bizarre twist, Dustin Hoffman was initially slated to play this role but pulled out at the last minute when he was hired for The Graduate. Kenneth I think worked out for the best. He is loopy and crazy in the role as well as physically dominating enough to be a bit of a threat to Bialystock and Bloom at the end. Definitely the best portrayal of Franz there has been in my humble opinion, even if the character’s dialogue was better in the two subsequent remakes. 

The jokes are very funny in the original movie, even if I have heard them several times over in the musical stage show and the 2005 film. The little plot changes were not something that I was expecting going in, however, I found them quite interesting in terms of them being abandoned ideas for the story’s two later manifestations. Specifically here I reference the characters of Lorenzo St. DuBois (aka L.S.D) and Ulla, as well as the alterations in plot to the ending segments of the film. 

L.S.D is clearly a mark of the times the film was originally written in. A beatnik hippie was more a sign of the social climate in the 1960s, so it really would have resonated with that audience. Sure, the hippie is recognisable today but it is often nothing more than a cliché. I particularly like the “I liebe ya baby, I liebe ya” section of Springtime For Hitler. Very clever writing from Mel there. And a great way of accomplishing Mel’s goal of bringing Hitler down in people’s perspectives by reducing him to nothing of importance with humour and ridicule. 

Max, Ulla and LeoUlla is very different as a character in this initial representation than she is in the later ones. Here she is a much bigger bimbo and the language barrier has a much greater effect on her behaviour. Instead of being attracted to Leo, she seems to be the plaything of Max, submitting to him with a giggle and joyfully shaking herself around to music whenever she is to set to work. Underdeveloped though she is, she serves her purpose as juxtaposition for the little old ladies Max has to swindle, as well as providing a few extra laughs to satiate the audience in the slow moments.

The fact that the original movie is much shorter in duration that its two successors just goes to show just how much extra was added to the story later on. The whole Leo/Ulla love story and their subsequent escape to Rio in and of itself adds at least a good half hour more to the tale in the two remakes. And that’s not even counting in all the musical numbers! But while the whole “let’s blow up the theatre” thing is amusing and decisive, knowing that there is the potential for so much more to the story, it all just feels like a quick fix. Or at Max puts it in the 2005 film, “a sure fire way to end the show”.

Still, this movie is definitely worth watching, if only for the masterful performance of the cast and as the basis for the very huge success of the film’s two remakes. But discussion on the musical and the second film will have to wait till part two for now. Right now let’s take an intermission. 

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To Make Or Remake: Catwoman Thu, 19 Feb 2009 14:30:44 +0000 Everybody wants to be a cat…well, maybe not after seeing this movie.

Usually the feminine feline foil to Batman’s heroics, the Catwoman of the 2004 film is something quite different to the previously established character with a cult following. Instead, this is a unique story far removed from Selina Kyle, the cat burglar gone bad and the Batman who wants desperately to save her. 

Catwoman brings us the story of Patience Phillips, a dowdy, lonely, mousy little artist who works for the biggest cosmetics company around. One morning she spies a cat out on her window ledge and thinking it stuck, risks her life to climb out and rescue it. A cop who is happening by at the time mistakes her for a jumper and rushes up to her apartment to rescue her. 

After the misunderstanding is cleared up, Patience discovers she is late for work and rushes off, leaving her wallet behind. The police officer, Tom Lone, endeavours to retrieve the wallet and return it to Patience later in the day. The two also arrange a coffee date for the next morning. 

After being blasted by her boss over her work he orders her to redo the entire campaign she is working on. She then misses the courier cut off and has to deliver the work herself by midnight. Trekking to the factory, she stumbles over information she should not have heard – the news that the company’s latest product has some dangerous side effects and should not be put into public circulation! 

Catwoman02Unfortunately, her accidental eavesdropping is discovered and the bad guys decide to eliminate her. After some chasing thru science labs and manufacturing areas, Patience escapes into the water tunnels where she is forcibly flushed thru to the ocean and drowns. Washing up ashore Patience is brought back to life by the breath of the very cat she tried to rescue from her window ledge. 

Following a little searching Patience discovers that she has been reborn as Catwoman and has some extraordinary powers. No longer the dowdy pushover she snaps and quits her job, verbally blasting her unreasonable boss in the process. She spend some time with Tom and then decides to reinvent her imagine in line with her new identity as Catwoman. 

When her best friend is admitted to hospital from a mystery illness, Patience links it to the cosmetics company’s new product and devotes herself to making sure those responsible for killing her and bringing the product out are stopped and made to pay. There’s action, mayhem and double-crossing as well as friction with the bewildered Tom who doesn’t know what to believe about Patience. There’s also lots of Halle Berry pouncing around like a cat, cracking a whip and scratching at people with her claw-like nails. 

The rest of the story isn’t really important because honestly it isn’t all that interesting. As a movie, it’s pretty average as these things go. But given that Catwoman is such an iconic character and a favourite of so many, this movie falls woefully short of the hype that it was first released with. It’s not inherently bad…it’s just not particularly good either. 

Catwoman04Of course there is often little point in rehashing tired old material so the movie should definitely be given its props for trying something new. Catwoman in 2004 doesn’t need the Batman to survive. Indeed as we find out at the end of the movie she doesn’t even need Tom Lone or anyone else to make her whole and bring together her fractured identity. Catwoman gets her own story and isn’t just a lesser character in someone else’s tale. 

Patience herself is a bit of a cliché as are her two friends we are introduced to at the office and their whole friendship dynamic. There isn’t a lot of substance to her, nothing raw enough to make her seem real. I just can’t get past the fact that it’s someone as confident and compelling as Halle Berry sitting there trying to play this downtrodden girl-next-door character. You can’t water down such a vibrant person as Halle and do it convincingly, at least not in this movie. There’s very little there for her to work with as an actor and to proverbially sink her claws into. Personally I would have preferred to see her play Selina Kyle over Patience Phillips. 

The casting of Sharon Stone was brilliant in my opinion. She just fits well into that character, no disrespect indented, but you can imagine that someone as beautiful as her and let’s face it, a little advanced in age now, could easily turn bitter and angry over being pushed over for a younger version. Not to mention the awesome action she gets to exhibit, fighting hand to hand with Catwoman towards the conclusion of the film. 

The cat suit is an interesting take to say the least. Possibly the most flesh the feline femme fatale has ever sported before. I have to be honest, and maybe I’m a little bit prudish but I just don’t like it. It seems the filmmakers were trying to highlight the sinewiness of the physical form of a cat and the way it arches its back and how the limbs shift as it moves around but I just feel that more than a bra and pants would have been better. But I understand that if you are gonna cast someone as hot as Halle in the role then you want to play up the sex appeal as much as possible. Not to say that she doesn’t look good – she does – but I think it was a little bit tacky. Plus maybe I’m biased because I really loved Michelle Pfeiffer’s cat suit from Batman Returns

Catwoman03In terms of watchability Catwoman isn’t so bad. But it isn’t so good either. Honestly my first impression was really positive, but then after several viewings the flaws and faults are just painfully apparent. It’s not going to send you screaming for the hills. You can sit and watch the movie from start to finish. I mean the movie was done well; it wasn’t lacking in professionalism at all, but in my opinion it just doesn’t have that lasting spark that will bring viewers back to it time and time again. 

Once in a blue moon, sure. Whack it into the DVD player and lose yourself in some average entertainment for 90 minutes. But this is definitely not a film that is so good you want to watch it over and over again in close proximity.

All I can say is thank goodness they didn’t decide to go ahead with the initially planned sequel. Too bad for Halle. Catwoman is a bit of a blemish on her acting record, which could otherwise have been an enormous triumph and success for her. Still, cats do have nine lives don’t they? Maybe she should have saved one for next Christmas instead of making this flop of a movie. 

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Movie Review- Milk Mon, 09 Feb 2009 02:34:00 +0000 Of all the films nominated for Oscars this year many of them are great, in fact, it’s fair to say that most of them are. But how many of them are important? How many of them matter? How many of them have the potential of changing the environment around it? I can think of only one; Gus Van Sant’s “Milk.”milk

Alive with the fiery, unmistakable spirit of a work of art with something to say; “Milk” is a bold and magnificent chronicling of the life of Harvey Milk (Sean Penn), the first openly gay man elected to public office in San Francisco back in the late 1970’s. Penn, known to the public for his dour demeanor, absorbs himself completely into the role of Harvey, a man filled to the brim with humor and humanity. To Harvey, politics was a lot like his beloved opera; if you sing loud enough and with enough skill, you’ll get your point across. His point; the equal and civil treatment of homosexuals both in California and the entire country. His opponents, an army of conservative Americans led by the likes of Anita Bryant and California senator John Briggs, intent on continuing the discrimination of gays in America. ; In the process, Harvey ignited a social revolution unlike any the country had ever seen. “My name is Harvey Milk and I’m here to recruit you” he shouts into a megaphone, a phrase that quickly became his most well known. “I know you’re angry!” He tells a mob of gays who’ve put up with enough police beatings to last a lifetime. “I’m angry!” The crowd cheers with a fervor at Milk’s words; you can feel it from your seat.

“Milk” is not a film that shows both sides of the argument. This is a film with an agenda, a message. Van Sant’s filmmaking here is an exhilarating mixture of potent story-telling and breathless gospel-spreading. Not since “Good Night and Good Luck” has a film made me both energized and overwhelmed. “Milk” is not only one of the most well-made films of 2008, the best work Sean Penn has done since “Mystic River” and a worthy addition to the underrated canon of Gus Van Sant; it’s one of the most affective and well-made civil rights films of the decade; one whose relevancy will only grow in hindsight. “Milk” was first released only a week after the passing of Proposition 8, the California ballot that restricted same-sex marriage and it only adds to film’s sense of urgency and earnestness.
But all politics aside, “Milk” is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking worth seeking out and enjoying. It’s a film that’s about something, that stands for something. And it’s the kind of film that’s worth treasuring.

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To Make Or Remake: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Fri, 06 Feb 2009 16:25:17 +0000 Where is fancy bread? In the heart, or in the head?

As a kid, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was a favourite book of mine. I was a big chocolate hound. I still am and in fact now work for a chocolate company ironically enough. There was something just so magic and wondrous as a kid about the possibility of getting to go into a chocolate factory and play around and then to find out you have won it at the very end. Timeless.

I think that’s why the story of Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka and the Golden Tickets and everything has lasted for the last fifty years or so. Every kid wants to go to a wonderful place where all their dreams come true.

Since the book was written in 1964 there have been two major film adaptations made, one in 1971 and another in 2005. The first, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was a musical starring Gene Wilder, while the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp was a more serious adaptation with a darker Wonka.

WillyWonkaTitleThe 1971 film has a really interesting story of genesis. The daughter of the director Mel Stuart read the book and told her father she thought it would make a good movie and that he had to make the movie and get Uncle Dave (David Wolper the producer) to put up the money for it. Wolper was already in talks on a side issue with a cereal company to produce a candy bar and how to advertise it, so he convinced them to call it a Wonka Bar and to make the movie as the perfect marketing ploy.

While not as stringently in line with the book as its successor in 2005, the screenplay for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was actually written by the book’s author Roald Dahl himself, with additional patchwork by David Seltzer. So its interesting to watch in that light, however, according to Wikipedia Dahl didn’t like the final result and therefore didn’t consent to sell the film rights to the book’s sequel.

WillyWonkaCharlie01That not withstanding, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is in my opinion a fantastic film, right up there as one of my all time favourites. I think it’s the heart of the movie that really makes it, and I think that it comes from the characters being so genuine. When you see little Charlie Bucket you can see that he has a really good heart, despite all the hardship he has had to endure as a poor kid.

There’s nothing like rooting for the underdog and Charlie Bucket sure is that. When his job as a paperboy can only afford his starving family a measly loaf of bread to go with their cabbage water soup, you know that there is no likely chance that this little boy could possibly have the means to find a Golden Wonka ticket. But the beauty of film prevails and the stars align just right so that the poor boy’s mighty dreams can come true.

WonakaChocolateRoom01Watching the film now as opposed to when I was a kid, you can tell straight away just how amateurish it all is. You can see the cardboard and tape and coloured balloons and know that it is all fake. But somehow, the fact that it is so real and human helps create an incredible suspension of disbelief when watching the film. Willy Wonka’s world is an immensely fantastic one that as the song says is a creation sprung from pure imagination and I think you need a little bit of that so that you can fully enjoy this world that is being laid out before you. To quote Charlie (how ironic) in The Santa Clause 2, “seeing isn’t believing; believing is seeing”.

This extends not only to the sets of the chocolate factory but the actual locations as well. I think the filmmakers did an excellent job in making it a place that seemed as though it could be anywhere in the world, in any little town and could happen to any simple little boy. The costumes were likewise so real and basic, yet impacting enough that you could tell what the characters were like before they even spoke – Willy Wonka himself being a prime example in that wonderful purple coat and top hat.

WillyWonka01Speaking of Mr Wonka, I think Gene Wilder did an enormously fantastic job in playing this role. Certainly one of the best performances he has given throughout his career, particularly since he was not at all a singer before he landed this role. He’s mad and crazy and more than a little scary in some moments but there is also something that is just so sincere and endearing and loveable to this maniac of a man who invents the most impossible things.

But having said all this let us now turn to the second adaptation of Dahl’s book, the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Straight away you can tell that this film is completely different in approach to its predecessor, which I think is a great thing. I remember when it was first announced that this film was going to be made there was a lot of discontent with the idea of trying to recreate the magic and wonder of the original film. Thankfully Tim Burton had enough sense to steer well clear away from this wonderful piece of cinematic history and not therefore corrupt or spoil it in any way.

CharlieTitle01Instead, he returned back to the source material and went thru it with a fine toothcomb, seeking to get all the little details right and to be as faithful to the original novel as possible. Despite how much I adore the first movie, I really love this aspect of the second one. You can see that Burton has an enormous admiration for the full picture of the world that Dahl created in his book.

I think the fact that filmmaking has come so much further nowadays in terms of special effects than it had back in the 70s is a big contributing factor that makes all this possible. Little things like the tangent of Prince Pondicherry and his palace of chocolate, that only appear for a minute or two in the movie, are so much easier to do logistically and economically these days compared to what they used to be. We can have more and more fantastic sights like the fudge mountain, the pink candy boat, and a single guy playing a thousand little Oompa Loompas in the movies we see today because the technology is there and is common enough that these wonderful things can be placed seamlessly in without any disruption to the unity of the film.

CharlieWillyWonka01Considerable mention must also be made of the way Johnny Depp really threw himself into the role of Willy Wonka and made it his own. His portrayal couldn’t be further from Gene Wilder’s. The makeup and costuming play a significant part in this, however, it’s the strange delivery and mannerisms that Depp puts into the character that sets him apart as a new Willy Wonka for a new age and a much darker one at that. His comic timing is exemplary and helps to break up the tension that builds in some moments of the film.

Ultimately I think that Roald Dahl’s original book is a great story and a story that is worth telling over and over again. The fact that there are two film adaptations is a strong testament to that. The first one has a real heart to it that I think resonates with every generation to encounter it in some way. I think it really speaks to the child in us all.

CharlieChocolate01The more recent film, on the other hand, is visually more compelling. And while Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is much closer in likeness to the book it is based on, nevertheless I think it fails to connect with the broader audience that its precursor does. While the performances are good and the visual effects are stunning, there is just that little quality that is missing from it. Perhaps it’s the pure imagination.

Despite all this I really like both film adaptations, however, the former is my personal preference between the two. Yet Johnny Depp just really cracks me up a lot of the way thru the latter. So, I think that in the end its great that such a marvellous story has been retold in a more modern way so that new audiences can come to love this wonderful story as well. The question is, I guess, will the more recent film have as much staying power? Time will only tell.


P.S: If you ever get a chance, watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with the audio commentary of the five original kids on. A great treat for fans of this film guaranteed.

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To Make Or Remake: Batman movies Thu, 15 Jan 2009 05:42:49 +0000 Like many in the geek community, I am a big fan of the character of Batman. But off the back of the success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, the possibility of another sequel makes me a little unsettled.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved these two movies, especially The Dark Knight and the compelling performances of all the cast. But going back to the previous offering of Batman feature films, its my belief that the third one is where things started to get shaky and ultimately led to the downfall of what was a very strong beginning to the film franchise.

Perhaps it was the fact that the role of Batman was recast for Batman Forever that made it dampen in appeal for me. While his performance was relatively decent, I just didn’t feel that Val Kilmer got the balance of Batman’s character right. He was too broody in some moments and then comically weird the next. I mean that smile right after when Chase tells Batman she’s met someone else is just ridiculous. Or maybe it was his just a touch too blonde, just an inch too long hair that was slicked down and made him look like a grease ball that did it.

But while Kilmer was bearable as Batman, George Clooney in Batman and Robin was just absurd. A dedicated Hollywood bachelor such as he was a terrible choice for Batman. He may have the rugged handsomeness that Bruce Wayne needs but come on? Who would really believe he had any sort of exemplary fighting ability by which he could capably battle crime while wearing a cape and caul?

BatmanForeverPosterIt seems that given the admirable performances of Danny Devito, Michelle Pfieffer and Christopher Walken in the second film, the plan for the third was simply to cram the film with as many big name stars as possible. And while each of these actors gave valiant portrayals in their own rights (with the pathetic exception of Nicole Kidman who was so annoying from beginning to end) it was all just too much. Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey really would have sufficed without the need of adding Drew Barrymore, Chris O’Donnell and the woefully misguided Kidman.

Speaking of O’Donnell, the addition of his character Robin to the features franchise was another thing that really sank the last two films for me. The whole storyline was just so lame and cheesy. I was too aware that this was a pretty boy actor playing a role instead of being able to lose myself in the plot and form solid attachments to the character. And given that there have been rumours recently that Robin may resurface in the next Batman instalment, I am more than a little worried. Even if they do decide to cast someone cool like Shia LaBeouf in the role (although I’m not entirely convinced that he could do the role justice, and yes, I know that his possible involvement was quashed as mere conjecture).

But I think the thing about Batman and Batman Returns, and then now about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight is the heightened sense of realism that is present in each of them. Both Michael Keaton and Christian Bale know how to strike the right duality of the character in their interpretations. They have enough brood and purpose driving them on, as well as knowing how to turn up their charm when the situation requires it.

I also think these four films blend the action, drama, and thrillingly disturbing violence in remarkably proficient ways. Especially in Nolan’s films. The villains are so twisted and deranged in their purposes yet so compelling and completely watchable.

BatmanBeginsPosterSo if they are to make or remake yet another Batman movie at some point in the future then I hope that the utmost care is taken. Perhaps it was the lack of involvement of director Tim Burton after Batman Returns that lead to the downfall of the series. This is why I feel that it would be imperative to keep Batman squarely in Nolan’s capable hands. He has such a reverence and insight into the characters and the world of Batman that is really remarkable. I think his desire to remain as true as possible to the source material of the comics while still staying contemporary in his retellings has been a major source of his success with the films.

Another thing that I hope remains of utmost importance for any future Batman movies is the casting of capable and compelling actors. So listen up Hollywood casting types, don’t go knee-jerk for the big name star but go for that interesting left of field option who may not be as prolific but will certainly give the audience one hell of a spectacular performance to watch. Heath Ledger is pretty big name now given his tragic end in this world, but at the time he was cast as the Joker, I honestly couldn’t have thought of another actor that I thought was a more unusual choice for the part. And look how awesome that turned out!

With the joy of many wild rumours throughout the geek community at the moment I still can’t help but flinch at most of the things that are flying around out there. Like any dedicated fan I will be amongst those waiting patiently in line should such a movie be released, but I hope against hope that if they do decide to go ahead with another Batman film project that they take the time to do it right, even if it means waiting an additional year or two for it to come out.

Better that than a rushed job of poorer quality released simply to garner box office sales. I say bring on another Nolan film that courageously attempts to capture the rampant imaginations of fans of this classic cultural icon and to perhaps possibly even create new ones.

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Aussie Slayerette – Introductions Tue, 13 Jan 2009 17:00:50 +0000 Introducing Geekshow Entertainment’s newest  op-ed writer, Hayley White.

Aussie Slayerette

To Make or Remake?

Aussie Slayerette 04Hey there all! I’m a geek gal from Sydney Australia who watches way too many DVDs in her spare time than she should. Scratch that. I buy too many DVDs than I really should. My collection has been getting to ridiculous proportions ever since I got a DVD drive for my computer a few years ago, but I just can’t help myself. Between the fact that I currently work next door to a DVD store and those two wonderful little words, “Special Features”, I am completely hopeless when it comes to holding myself back from buying more DVDs.

Another thing that is quite ridiculous in size is my book collection – filled largely by novelizations of all my favorite television shows like Buffy and Angel and Roswell. The root cause of this is that I worked in a bookstore for seven years, right during the Whedon television prime, and I got a great employee discount. So between these two collections I really have no end to all the geeky things I am a fan of and dedicate my spare time to enjoying.

Aussie Slayerette 02As my screen name suggests and as you may have already gleaned from this introduction, I am a big fan of all things Joss, in particular Buffy. I also enjoy Supernatural, NCIS, Charmed, Roswell, Lost, as well any incarnation of the Stargate universe. Next on my hit list is getting back into Bones and Heroes on DVD after I missed many of the television screenings over here and checking out if Smallville is worth the watch. As for features, my favorite movie is Serenity.

Since I was a kid I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve attempted a few novels in the past, which I continue to work on from time to time, and my dream jobs are novelist or screenwriter for a sci-fi television show. I tend to favor the creative side of things more so than the factual side but in recent times I have really found a love of reviewing. I even created a small reviews blog called “What I’ve Been Watchingfor anyone who’s interested in reading my thoughts on my latest visual conquests.

Aussie Slayerette 03Between my love of books, movies and television I always struggle when a story from one medium gets transferred to another as to which one is better and/or more valid. I tend to favor the original incarnation of something as sacrosanct but there are always the exceptions to the rule. Each week I’m going to be posing the question, “To Make or Remake?” to some of the best and worst creations in the entertainment world and weighing up which recreations are good, which ones are great, and which ones should really have been left alone in the first place.

Join me as I go back and forth across entertainment time and space, venturing through the wormhole of the remake world and delving into some of geek culture’s best and worst moments of creativity.

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The Angry Projectionist Takes a Retrospective Look at a Year in Cinema Thu, 01 Jan 2009 18:45:45 +0000

Well, It’s new years day and just like everybody else, I have the Twilight Zone marathon playing behind me and I’m not even paying attention to it.  Instead, I’m taking a look back in the past year of cinema.  

We’ve seen a lot of both fantastic films this year.  We’ve seen some great documentaries like gonzo_l200805301521the Alex Gibney film, “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.”  We’ve seen some big blockbuster action films like, “Iron Man” and “Dark Knight.”  And we’ve even seen some fun, goofball comedies such as “Pineapple Express,” and “Tropic Thunder.”       

However, we’ve also seen some pretty terrible crap roll into theatres the past year;  Stuff like the Paris Hilton film “The Hottie and the Nottie.  ”We’ve also seen crappy remakes like “Death Race” and “The Day The Earth Stood Still.”hottie_and_the_nottie

And so on and so fourth…

Now, I was going to just pick what I thought was the best and the worst films of the year, but that just didn’t seem fair.  I don’t think I can make a pineappleexpressdecision like that on my own.  It’s too much responsibility for me to handle. 

That’s why I want to know what you think, Geekshow reader.  Feel free to use the comments section below to nominate your own Best/Worst of 2008. 


I will look over everyone’s nominations and construct a poll to see what you guys feel is the absolute best and worst films of 2008.  Then I will sit down and review the winner/loser.   


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Two Geeks Commentary 01 – Spider-Man Mon, 17 Nov 2008 05:00:19 +0000 Come one come all its the Two Geeks Commentary. And as our first selection we thought we’d go with an obvious choice, the original Spider-Man movie, starring Tobey McGuire and Kirsten Dunst and directed by Sam Raimi. Scott and Ben with a special guest, sit down with a big bowl of pop corn and give their opinions about one of the first comic book movies of the modern age. Lets us know what you think and stay tuned for more commentaries.

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If We Ran Hollywood – Justice League: A Visual Companion Tue, 02 Sep 2008 18:14:01 +0000 In the latest episode of Two Geeks, Ben and I discussed who we would cast in movie adaptations of The Avengers and Justice League. I wanted to post a visual guide to our casting choices for each team. Yesterday, I put together the Avengers VC, today I’m going to focus on the Justice League

Our Justice League teams were very different, so I’ll start with mine:

Scott’s Justice League Team

Martian Manhunter/J’onn J’onzz: John Jones                       Scott’s Pick: Christopher Judge

Wonder Woman: Princess Diana                                           Scott’s Pick: Cobie Smulders

Green Lantern: John Stewart                                          Scott’s Pick: Leonard Roberts

The Flash: Wally West                                                  Scott’s Pick: Jason Dohring

Green Arrow: Oliver Queen                                                 Scott’s Pick: Jensen Ackles

Black Canary: Dinah Lance                                             Scott’s Pick: Emilie de Ravin

Aquaman: Arthur Curry                                                     Scott’s Pick: Chris Carmack

Ben’s Justice League Team

Superman: Clark Kent                                            Ben’s Pick: Brendan Hines

Batman: Bruce Wayne                                                       Ben’s Pick: Jared Leto

Wonder Woman: Princess Diana                                         Ben’s Pick: Morena Baccarin

Green Lantern: Hal Jordan                                            Ben’s Pick: Ryan Gosling

The Flash: Wally West                                                     Ben’s Pick: Ryan Reynolds

Aquaman: Arthur Curry                                                    Ben’s Pick: Michael Phelps

Scott’s Justice Society Team

The Flash: Jay Garrick                                                        Scott’s Pick: Greg Kinnear

Green Lantern: Alan Scott                                                    Scott’s Pick: Dennis Quaid

Hawkman: Carter Hall                                                        Scott’s Pick: Adam Baldwin

Power Girl: Kara Starr                                                     Scott’s Pick: Katee Sackhoff

Doctor Fate: Kent Nelson                                                       Scott’s Pick: Cary Elwes

Black Canary: Dinah Drake                                                   Scott’s Pick: Elizabeth Banks

Blue Beetle: Ted Kord                                                            Scott’s Pick: Ben Stiller

Vandal Savage: The Immortal                                               Scott’s Pick: Dominic Purcell

]]> 8 ‘Crystal Skull’ Out Now! Sun, 25 May 2008 03:20:34 +0000

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened this weekend. What did you guys think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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‘Prince Caspian’ Out Now Fri, 16 May 2008 05:20:28 +0000

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian opened this weekend. What did you guys think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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‘Speed Racer’ Out Now Sun, 11 May 2008 01:58:11 +0000 Speed Racer was released this weekend. What did you guys think? Let us know in the comments section below.

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The Golden Compass Review Mon, 10 Dec 2007 22:49:33 +0000 The Golden Compass is a series of three novels that I had never heard of until I watched the Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End, and saw the trailer for the movie. At that point, I was so intrigued in the beautiful world that was displayed, that I had to immediately by and read the novels. I am now partway through the third novel, and I was eagerly anticipating the movies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not the biggest fan of the novels. While I believe the story is a classic and very gripping, the author’s writing style has annoyed me from the very beginning. So with the movies, I anticipated a wonderful movie centering around the engaging story with none of the problems I had from the novels.

I can now say that without a doubt, that I have forgotten about all the problems of the books. I found a beautiful world with interesting characters, and even more beautiful locations and scenes. Unfortunately, I also found a whole new slew of new problems. Which experience was more fulfilling? I’m not quite sure that is a simple answer.



My problems from the novels generally consisted of weak characters and even weaker dialog. Pullman has this weird fascination of describing dialog, rather than just writing it. As a result, if it is not concerning a main character, there is usually very little depth to the characters. Finally, there is an obsession writing about stuff, and saving the explanation for much later in the books. Know what a daemon is? You won’t, for quite some time. Dust? You should know by about book 3 what the deal is.

The movies do away with most of these problems. Daemon’s are described immediately, as is the presence of multiple worlds. Dialog is pretty solid, and the characters make the transition to the screen wonderfully. Lyra’s Dakota Blue Richards is magnificent in the role of the spirited young girl. I was a bit worried about this, given how much spunk the girl has in the novels. But she pulls it off with a bit of a flare that I have to applaud, given her complete lack of acting experience.

Daemons are animal companions that every human in Lyra’s world has. To give a personality and believability to talking animals is not an easy task. However, this movie does it magnificently. Most of the animals (Excluding the bizarre and creepy golden monkey) are all so well done, that it’s hard to notice they aren’t real. Even while they talk, you could find yourself amazed at how believable they are.

So, where is it that the movie’s problems come in at? The major issue comes from pacing. All novel based movies must face the problem when they transition to the big screen. Harry Potter handled it by cutting several scenes out, and by occasionally changing a scene. The Lord of the Rings handled it by trimming scenes, and sticking the nearly full versions into special edition DVDs.

The Golden Compass decided that it wanted to take nearly all the scenes from the book, and put them in the movie. Except, they decided to re-arrange them, tweak the details, and compact them so densely together, that it’s impossible to see scene transitions. Time does not pass in this movie. The movie could have literally taken place during the period of an hour.

The movie is so insistent on making sure every event in the novel takes place in the movie, that they never have time to stop and take a breath. In several instances, the movie flows immediately into a circumstance in which there needed to be time between. Maybe a reaction to an event, for instance that could not have been instant. Because of this, fans of the books are left complaining while the people that haven’t read the books are left confused.

The other half of the pacing issue, is the re-arranging of scenes. Imagine the scenes of the books cut out, put on a table, and mixed up. Obviously the director felt there was a reason for each change that was made. But I can’t for the life of me figure them out. But the real problem here, is that things never really seem to fit together the same afterwards. Threads hang loose, pacing feels even more rushed, and the whole thing comes across looking messy and even more confusing.

Finally, the other big issue with the movie comes from the controversial content. Apparently, they decided they were fine with the material when they licensed the books. But somewhere in between, they got scared. Every instance of the presence of a church in the story has been removed. The "bad guy" in the movie has been made into a corporation of sorts. Again, it isn’t exactly the fact that the movie was changed from the book. It is just the fact that it doesn’t feel like it works. The new explanation isn’t as fleshed out as the true story.

About an hour into the movie, the events become grander in scheme. You are no longer learning about the story, and you start seeing it instead. Since the events are so much larger in scale, there is less of a transition between scenes. At this point, I was able to begin enjoying the movie much more. I could finally enjoy the beauty, the cast, and the story.

However, just as you start to get engrossed in the movie, its over. Early. Yes, they completely altered the point at which the movie ends. And for what reason? Because it feels better? No way, it feels horrible. Totally forced. There is absolutely no reason that I can think of to end the movie when they did. The audience misses the big reveal, they get no pay off, and is left in this horrible cliff hanger that didn’t previously exist. The first words from my mouth as the credits began rolling was, "how random". And that, in essence describes the majority of the movie. Random, and yes, once again confusing.

There is a lot to love in this movie. It has quite possibly the most beautifully designed sets and props I have ever seen. Lyra is pulled off wonderfully. And when its all said and done, the shadow of the story still exists. But I think that in order for this movie to be really enjoyed, everyone needs to have read the book as well. It seems a bit odd to say that, since the changes are a bit cringe worthy. But the truth is, the value of this movie lies in seeing it in visual form. That is what makes things worth while for fans of the books.

All in all, I give the movie a 7/10. It’s not a bad movie, it’s just a bad translation. Its a mess that alienates fans and non-fans alike. Its magnificently beautiful mess, but a mess none the less. Do you agree? Disagree? Share your opinions with us by commenting below.

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