Posted by: themoviecheese | June 26, 2013

Why I Don’t Actually Want The Xbox One To Fail

Why I Don’t Actually Want The Xbox One To Fail

So E3 is long over, and with it there is a new generation of consoles looming over us (sorry Wii U, you just don’t count). There is a lot of controversy in the world of gaming right now, and it’s all thanks to some rather ballsy decisions made by Microsoft for their new console, the Xbox One.

For their new console, they decided they were going to periodically put a stop to second hand gaming, by designing the system so that any disc you pay full whack for is installed to your account and system, effectively binding all three. When you decide you want to trade that game in to your local GameStop, the store (yes, the store, not you) is charged a fee to unlock the disc so they can resell it. That effectively means that said store will no doubt increase the price of second hand games to the point where they are more expensive than a brand new copy, rendering second hand game sales completely fucking useless. They also decided that you can only LEND the game to somebody who has been in your friend’s list for 30 days, and they can only borrow the game ONCE. So, you know that brand spanking new copy of Watch Dogs that you paid £55 for? Not really yours is it? ALSO they decided to place an internet stamp on the machine, meaning that it requires a constant internet connection and if the system goes longer than 24 hours without one, you can no longer play ANY games. Sure, it can still play DVDs, Blu-rays and the like, but the very reason that you just spent £430 on the fucking thing? Well, you just can’t do it.

1a0

SO, naturally there was an outcry about this, made even worse by the fact that Sony decided not to include ANY of this stuff on their Playstation 4, and opted instead to just design their console the old fashioned way. This, of course, led to a rapid decent in Xbox One pre-orders on Amazon and a rapid climb in pre-orders of the PS4.

SO NOW, Microsoft have decided to go back on this word and have taken all of these features off. Excellent right? Well, kind of. You see, in my opinion, the damage has already been done. Microsoft have already proven that they can not fully be trusted and that this is essentially a switch within the console’s infrastructure that they could turn back on (or off) at any time they bloody well feel like it. What’s that? You just told somebody to “bone your mom” on Xbox Live voice chat? Well it looks like you’re not playing games for a week.

download-2

Now, you may be under the impression that I am excited to see Microsoft’s gaming department plummet to the fiery depths of hell, but you are very wrong. Sure, I am a Playstation guy, always have been. That’s just a matter of preference. I bought a PS3 because it was the cheapest Blu-ray player at the time of release (mad, to think that £425 was cheap for a Blu-ray player back then). I would never call myself a Sony/PS fanboy, I just prefer PS’s exclusives. I would much rather have the deep story and cinematic qualities of such gems as Uncharted and Heavy Rain, than the mindless shooting and brain numbing stupidity of Halo and…well, Halo.

However, I DON’T want to see Microsoft, and in turn the Xbox One, fail. Why? Because in the world of video gaming, we NEED competition. Competition is what keeps our world interesting. If the Xbox One dies of its own obscurity, and becomes the last Xbox that we ever see then Sony will rule the entire market. Nintendo can’t hold a candle to Sony or Microsoft at the moment. I don’t know one…ONE person who owns a Wii U. And I know a lot of fucking people. Likewise, niche products like the Ouya and Nvidia’s Shield are going to remain just that: niche. So Sony will be the One Console to Rule Them All. And that’s just shit. Leaving Sony to rule the market means that Sony will eventually (as any company would in that position) get lazy. With no competition to worry about, there won’t be any need for any new crazy innovations. There will be no need to constantly push that tech forward. What will they have to be afraid of? PC’s? Give me a fucking break. PC’s are already on the decline and will, within the next 10 years, be a niche market themselves.

XboxOneInigo

What I’m trying to say is that without Sony and Microsoft constantly going at each other’s dicks, all we will be left with will be one lazy console developer. Eventually consumers will get fed up of this laziness and video gaming will all but disappear. I hope…no, I pray this doesn’t happen. I pray that Microsoft can pull themselves out from this shit heap of fuck that they seem to have swan dived into. And if they can’t, then I pray that somebody else…like Apple or Samsung…decide to enter the video game world with a console of their own. We need competition. Constantly.

tumblr_mna39rW2PF1qimaozo1_500

Advertisements
Posted by: themoviecheese | June 26, 2013

“Man of Steel” Review

Man of Steel

Starring: Henry Cavill, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Antje Trau

Director: Zack Snyder

Writer: David Goyer

Runtime: 143 minutes

Rating: 12A/PG-13

The first thing we hear is heavy panting. Steady on, not the kind of panting you’re thinking of. This is Lara-El giving birth to her son, Kal, aka Superman…aka the man of steel. And so the Nolan/Goyer/Snyder reboot/brainchild begins. Gone are thw sweeping galactic vistas of the Donner films. No more is the infamous score by John Williams. This is a fresh start, and it stops at nothing to remind us of that by making its very first shot that of Superman exiting his mother’s womb. Man of Steel is different – very different – to the Richard Donner/Lester films. Remember that feeling you had when you first watched Nolan’s Batman Begins and sat there thinking “Good lord, this is totally different to the Burton films”? Well, times that feeling by 10.

header-new-man-of-steel-clip-jor-el-fights-for-krypton

We begin with an excellent sequence on Krypton that goes on for a lot longer than you may think and even almost outstays its welcome. The planet is in a political turmoil with Kal-El’s biological father Jor-El (Russell Crowe) attempting to convince the higher-ups that they should search for other habitable planets. In comes General Zod (Michael Shannon) to start a coupe and Jor is forced to send his son to a distant planet before Krypton is destroyed by its own unstable core. The story behind Krypton’s core is actually a very welcome one. The core has become unstable due to the artificial engineering of all Kryptonian beings. There hasn’t been a natural birth in centuries, hence the reason why Jor-El sends his son (born of a natural birth) away. However, despite what you may expect, this doesn’t come off as a greenpeace-y preach. Instead, this complexity is only there for the sake of meaning.

general zod man of steel-1

With the Krypton stuff over, we instantly flash forward to an Adult Clark Kent/Kal-El working on a fishing boat, bef0re seeing his childhood/upbringing through a series of periodic flashbacks, ala Batman Begins. So already we are seeing similarities to Nolan’s own reboot, but this is not Nolan’s film. This is a Snyder film through and through. Within the first 30 minutes we are treated to three big screen disasters – planet, oil rig, school bus – in that order. Despite the shaky cam (every single shot in the film is handheld) and the various close-ups of plants and pencils evoking a very Terrence Malick style of film making, this is still a Zack Snyder film through and through. Featuring a very similar tone to his own Watchmen adaption, in placing characters with extraordinary abilities within a real world setting, something that the handheld cinematography compliments very well.

People always compliment Snyder on his visuals, but one thing that is always overlooked is his ability to direct his actors and get the best possible performance, and here he excels. Every single member is perfectly cast. Russell Crowe’s Jor-El is the complete embodiment of the term “bad ass”. He was born to play this role, so much so that Brando’s version (with his controversial mispronunciation of the word “krypton” – he called it “krypTERN”) is completely obliterated. His delivery of some of the most pivotal lines of dialogue (“You can give the people hope. That’s what this symbol means…hope”) are exceptional. He’s also in the movie a lot longer than you may expect. Post death (omg spoiler!), Jor-El reappears in various important scenes to either help out our main heroes or to offer exposition to the narrative. Unfortunately, as amazing as Crowe is, you are occasionally left thinking “Oh god, him again?” as he can outstay his welcome.

man-of-steel-image08

 

On planet Earth, Kevin Costner turns in one of the most heart wrenching performances of the year as Clark’s adopted father. He has much less screen time than Crowe, but his scenes are some of the most powerful. This isn’t Uncle Ben from the Spiderverse telling his son that he has to use his powers responsibly. This is a father acknowledging that somewhere out there Clark has another father who has another plan for him. Clark was sent here for a reason and as much as Costner doesn’t like the thought of it, he knows that his son will eventually take a path of some sort, whether that be a dark path, or the path of a hero. Michael Shannon proves once again that he is a towering presence, and that he was born to dominate the world of villainous roles. His Zod is light years away from Terrence Stamp’s equally threatening turn in Superman II. Whereas Stamp played the role with equal amounts calculating coldness and campy comic, Shannon is simply a dulldozer of rage-fueled destruction. Emitting around 90% of his performance through the sheer intensity of his eyes, Shannon’s Zod could be the best comic book villain of the year. Amy Adam’s performance is admirable as Louis Lane, however the character remains severely underwritten and as a result Adams’ performance can very easily be overlooked. The budding romance between Superman and Lane just kind of happens, with very little momentum.  The biggest surprise, performance wise is definitely Antje Trau, who plays Zod’s right hand female soldier Faora. A speedy “kill first, ask questions later” foot soldier of death, Faora has quickly become the fan favorite of the film.

Antje-Traue-in-Man-of-Steel

That brings us to our main attraction: Henry Cavill, the main of steel himself. Cavill simply is Superman. He’s freaking massive for a start, the biggest Superman we’ve ever had. But his acting chops are also on top form. The moment you see him rescuing a falling soldier and stopping for a moment to ask “You okay?”, you know that we have the definitive Superman performance. Something as simple as that little moment defines Superman. Unfortunately, there’s not enough of it. And that brings me to our first fault with this man of steel…

I wouldn’t call Man of Steel dark as such, but I wouldn’t call it light-hearted either. It’s not even in between. It’s merely a colourless palette . This doesn’t necessarily hurt the look of the movie, those Snyder visuals still look amazing. But it severely hurts the narrative. David Goyer (Batman Begins) has crafted a screenplay that is almost completely devout of the humour and playful attitude of previous Superman incarnations (whether that be film, comic books or animation) that we have grown to love. Taking obvious inspiration from such graphic novels as Superman: Earth One and Superman: Birthright, this is a Superman that nobody has seen before, and as such it’s no wonder it hasn’t gone down well with some critics. Imagine if you saw a Batman reboot where Batman cracked Spiderman-style joke every time he punched someone? Exactly. The hardcore Superman fans like myself have seen this Superman before on print, and so therefore are used to it. The general public however, that’s different. A few extra chuckles (like the excellent exchange between Supes and Louis about the “S” symbol) could have made all the difference.

man-of-steel-amy-adams-henry-cavill

That said, the sheer progression of Goyer’s narrative – from a Superman uberfan – is nothing short of genius. A Superman film should never be about Clark becoming Superman, that’s just not the way to go about it. It should always be a triple journey. Even in the Reeve Superman, he’s already Superman by the time he’s working at the Daily Planet. Man of Steel follows the perfect formula of (without spoiling too much) Kal-El becoming Superman and then Superman becoming Clark Kent. Clark is the persona, the fake name and the disguise (glasses, shirt and tie). So therefore, that should be the last transformation. The way Goyer, Snyder and Nolan have handled this is absolutely brilliant.

Now before I carry on, I just wanted to talk about Superman as a character and exactly why the character means a huge amount to me:

Another ace in Goyer’s script is that he brilliantly portrays just what makes Superman so different from other Superheros. People pass Superman off as boring because he’s too powerful. “Oh nothing can hurt him? That’s boring! Where’s the tension?!” What seperates Superman from all other superheros is that he’s not some whiny kid who had to have his parents killed in front of his very eyes in order to realise that murder is bad (Bruce Wayne), he’s not some pretentious billionaire prick who had to realise that his own devices were hurting people instead of helping them (Tony Stark), he’s not some narcissistic bully who quips jokes at the expense of his victims (Peter Parker), and he’s not some up-his-own-ass scientist who was sent up in a rocket and got radiated (Reed Richards). He’s just a guy from Kansas. Sure he’s got to contend with being an alien, and yes his parents blew up on the planet, but he never once lets that stuff get to him. Superman is just a guy from Kansas. Not Krypton. He’s a Kansas-born farmboy. Two of my favorite moments in Man of Steel are just before the Zod broadcast on TV – he is just stood in the kitchen after washing some dishes with a bottle of beer. This is the Superman I want to see, this everyday guy who just so happens to be the most powerful being in the cosmos. The other scene that was one of my favorites is when he returns to the Kent farm after his extended absence and he’s talking to his mother, huge smile on his face telling her that he knows where he’s from and all about Krypton and this beautiful race that he’s just found out about. If this was Spiderman, he’d be a whiny little bitch about how his real parents have been destroyed with the planet and he doesn’t know his place in the world any more and he’s got to contend with responsibility, blah blah blah. Superman doesn’t do that. He doesn’t ponder responsibility, he just goes out there and fucking does it, because he instantly knows what is the right thing to do. Goyer writes Superman as a person who doesn’t think about the right thing, he just does it, and that is my Superman. That is the Superman I wanted to see.

So back to the review, and I want to talk about one more unfortunate fault with Goyer’s script: momentum. I spoke briefly about how Clark and Louis’ relationship is never given enough momentum to be truly believable, but that also rings true for a lot more sequences. One of those sequences should have been a stand out and it is unfortunate to say that it is the suit reveal. This scene is built up very well, with Jor-El guiding Kal-El around the fortress (which is actually a ship in this movie) and eventually leading him to the suit. This portion of the scene is perfect. What follows, however, is disjointed. It cuts, and Kal simply has the suit on. I’m not saying that I want to see Kal change out of his scruffs and into his “S” suit. I just wanted a little more momentum. Instead, what we have is essentially Jor-El saying “Put this on” and Kal saying “Okay”. Thankfully, the scene that follows is mesmerizing – Superman’s first flight. Henry Cavill grins like a schoolkid as he sores into the sky in one of the few sequences that are even slightly reminiscent of the old Donner films.

man-of-steel-6

Watching the original trailers, you would have probably believed that this was going to be the arthouse version of a superhero movie, and you’d be forgiven for thinking it. Those Malick-y shots of pencils and flowers, pretentious soul-searching dialogue (“Pretend my voice is an island out in the ocean!”). BUT this is definitely not the case. Man of Steel is a big movie. It is undoubtedly the biggest blockbuster of the entire year in terms of scope and yes I am including The Hobbit Part 2 before it is even out. The last hour of Man of Steel is just insane. We are treated to an excellent fight sequence between Superman and Faora on a Smallville street, before another huge action sequence acting as a precursor to the climactic showdown between Superman and Zod. A lot of controversial things have been said about these scenes. Firstly a lot of people seem to be angry that Superman seemingly allowed a lot of destruction to take place in the city. My argument to this is as follows:- A) Superman has X-ray vision and incredibly heightened hearing and senses, meaning he knows the areas where there are no people. The scene where he moved out of the way of that huge truck and it destroyed a building behind him? He probably knew there were no people in that building. B) This happens in all superhero films. The Avengers is even more guilty of this than Man of Steel is because Captain America actually ordered his comrades to “keep the fight contained within Manhattan”. C) The destruction of most of Metropolis is likely to be used as a plot device to introduce Lex Luthor. He will appear offering to rebuild the city, therefore gaining their trust in awesome Lex-style, and will also publicly blame Superman for the mess in the process.

In Conclusion:

Acting: 9/10 – Everyone is faultless, with the only exception being Amy Adams as Louis. Not entirely her fault though as she is never really given a chance to truly shine.

Directing: 8/10 – Snyder’s visual style seeps through the reels of this film, irrespective of the realism that the shaky cam gives off. A lot of key moments needed more momentum, and you can’t help but wonder what the point of the shaky cam was.

Writing: 7/10 – Just like most of Goyer’s comic book adaptions, Man of Steel is at times genius, but there are a few instances where it is uneven, and a couple of instances where it is – as a comic book fan – infuriating.

Man of Steel is definitely the biggest film of the year in terms of ambition and scope. It’s clear that the three key players (Nolan, Goyer and Snyder) were incredibly passionate about telling a new version of the classic story. The cast is absolutely superb and really carry the film into my final rating. Goyer’s writing falters at times, but the basic narrative structure is verging on genius and – as a comic book fan – I can do nothing but commend Goyer on the way he portrayed the journey of Kal-El to Superman, and Superman to Clark Kent. With the final scene showing huge potential for many sequels, and a few little references to a future “World’s Finest” or “Justice League” movie, you will most definitely believe that a man can fly, once again.

Final Score 8/10

Posted by: themoviecheese | June 8, 2013

XBox One’s Game Trading System Announced (kind of)

Xbox_Consle_Sensr_controllr_F_TransBG_RGB_2013

So Microsoft have officially announced how games licensing will work. Click the link below to read the official statement:

(I strongly recommend you click the link before reading my post)

http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/license

On one hand, some of what they say sounds awesome and very promising, such as the ability to go round to your mate’s house and just play *your* games on *his/her* console simply by logging in. That’s brilliant.

However, A LOT of what they say sounds VERY worrying. Note how they say publishers “can choose” to enable you to trade in your game, and that “microsoft” does not charge a platform fee to do so? Does this mean Microsoft have created some sort of system whereby third party publishers can charge a small fee for traded games? Well if you keep reading, Microsoft very clearly state: “Third party publishers may opt in or out of supporting game resale and may set up business terms or transfer fees with retailers.” – Now, as you all know, many publishers/developers are bastards (I’m looking at you, Electronic Arts) and as such, many of them would jump at the chance to charge their customers more money, or to just opt out of tradings all together. This must mean some sort of chip system will be put into place.

Also take not of the fact that you practically have to give up your right to play the game if you want to give it away. It’s clear to me that Microsoft’s main goal with the XBox One is the completely move into a digital era of gaming, whereby a large percentage of gamers are simply downloading their games as opposed to buying physical discs/media. This is fine, but in doing so, Microsoft are taking away your right to *own* what you’ve just paid £50+ for. Sure, this is something that has been around on PC games for years, but that doesn’t exactly make it any better just because it exists on another format. Also remember that most new PC games cost a measly £20, £30 at the most. I have a hard time believing that physical versions of XBox One games will be anything less that £50.

C|Net recently said:

Your Xbox One will have to connect to the Internet once a day or you won’t be able to play your games. So, apart from the inconvenience of not being able to play if your connection goes down for more than a day, it means Microsoft can at any time turn off its servers and the games you paid for won’t work. In 20 years, if you get your Xbox down from the loft to show your kids what you used to play with, it may well not work.

…and this really worries me. This essentially completely shortens the overall lifespan of the entire system and could reduce it to nothing but a black box of nothing. Oh well, at least it *is* built on PC architecture meaning you could possibly turn it into a half-decent PC if you knew how. Maybe.

The reason this worries me so much is that it essentially means that Microsoft is in complete control of your system. I’m not trying to be biased or a “fanboy” here, I’m just merely trying to show genuine concern for our legitimacy as consumers. If we pay around £400 for a console and £50 for each game, surely they should be ours? Maybe it’s just me being fucking retarded, I don’t know.

It’s such an astronomical shame because a lot about the XBox One really intrigues me. Sure, the name is horrible, and Kinect is nothing but an unwanted peripheral that will do nothing but add an unnecessary amount of money onto the overall price of the system…but hey, it’s a new XBox. It’s the first time Microsoft have had a Blu-ray capable system. The skype and television features looks excellent. It actually intrigues me that they have yet to announce a plethora of exclusive games (they MUST have something up their sleeves…surely). It’s just a shame that they’ve decided to take this very suspicious and worrying direction. E3 is just around the corner, and I’m actually dreading it…

So what are your thoughts on the privacy/trading issues surrounding the XBox One? Are you not really that bothered? Are you getting one anyway? (see what I did there?) Sound out with your thoughts below.

Posted by: themoviecheese | May 5, 2013

“Iron Man 3” reviewed by Tom Stewart

Iron Man 3

Starring: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce & Ben Kingsley

Director: Shane Black

Writers: Shane Black & Drew Pearce

Runtime: 130 mins

Rating: 12A/PG-13

Last year, phase one of Marvel’s massive film project came to an end with the huge team-up movie Avengers Assemble (or simply The Avengers if you live over the pond). This year marks the release of a triple bill of “phase two” starters, starting with Iron Man 3, then Thor: The Dark World and lastly Captain America: Winter Soldier.

So here we have the kickstarter with Iron Man 3, and Mr Stark is in a very dark place. Post-alien invasion he has trouble sleeping and constantly suffers anxiety attacked whenever somebody so much as mentions “New York”. Don’t be fooled though, Stark certainly hasn’t gone all Dark Knight Rises moody on us. The comedy is most definitely present, thanks to newcomer writer/director Shane Black’s (of Lethal Weapon fame) excellent dialogue.

Even Tony Stark has fallen prey to Google Glass

Even Tony Stark has fallen prey to Google Glass

It seems very fitting that Stark should be the one to kickstart Marvel’s phase two cinematic sequence, since he was the one who started phase one with that Nick Fury scene, forever condemning cinema-goers to stay seated for a further 8 minutes of credits “just in case there’s something else”. This is a slightly different Stark to what we are used to seeing though. Gone are the days of Downey Jr simply “playing himself”, he now has to actually *act*, and act he does. His performance is fantastic and really lends meat to the film’s underwhelming and ultimately predictable plot.

We open up in 1999 at the turn of the Millenium, giving us a pre-Iron Man Tony Stark partying and generally being a dick to everyone around him…everyone ecept Rebecca Hall, because you know, he’s trying to get her in bed. He is approached by Guy Pearce’s Aldrich Killian but quickly blanks him (bad idea). This serves as a set-up of the overall plot, but wasn’t really needed in such a context other than to show us the Stark of old. Flash forward to present day and we instantly see the effect New York has had on our hero: he’s messed up. He can’t sleep, his relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is on the brink, and he has become obsessed with creating the ultimate Iron Man suit. On top of all this, the world is under terror from The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), a terrorist threatening the western world with death and destuction and a new virus known as Extremis – a virus that either kills someone or makes them much more powerful. There is also the return of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who claims to have perfected Extremis for good. Eventually Stark promises “good old-fashioned revenge”, to which The Mandarin and his Terminator-like, Extremis-infused lacky (played by James Badge Dale) respond to by blowing up, no totally fucking anihilating his Malibu pad.

Pepper Pots' idea of foreplay was a little OTT

Pepper Pots’ idea of foreplay was a little OTT

Broken, damaged and left with just one malfunctioning Iron Man suit, this is Stark like we’ve never seen him. Which brings me onto my first problem with the film. There wasn’t really any indication in Avengers Assemble that the New York incident had messed him up in such a way. He burned through aliens and even seemed to enjoy it, so much so as to ask “Let’s go get a shawarma” afterwards. I get that these things can snap and just happen, but for a series of films that prides itself on inconsistency, it doesn’t really make much sense.

Like I said previously though, Downey Jr’s performance (as always) really does stop this being just another superhero film. Playing what is esentially a dual role of cocky and broken, he gives it his all. The supporting cast are also fantastic: Kingsley is brilliantly menacing as The Mandarin, whilst Paltrow offers some some brilliant surprises. Don Cheadle also returns as Col. Rhodes in his new suit Iron Patriot. His performance is equally as brilliant as Downey Jr’s, thanks in full to Shane Black’s experience on “buddy” movies. His dabble with the script means that he is able to bring Stark and Rhodes together in just the same way he did with Gibson and Glover on Lethal Weapon.

Stark confirmed that attempting the drive-thru McDonalds head-first wasn't such a good idea

Stark confirmed that attempting the drive-thru McDonalds head-first wasn’t such a good idea

Iron Man 3 is definitely problematic though. Just like all the previous Marvel stand-alone films, this is a feature that simply “goes through the motions”, it is a sequel for the sake of a sequel. And even though the film does definitely give Stark’s story closure, Marvel have been extremely clever in leaving the tale just the right amount of “open” in case Downey Jr does decide to sign those sparkly new contracts. Everything feels very streamlined. Why does everyone turn to Stark for help in stopping a terrorist that has absolutely nothing to do with him? Have everyone all of a sudden forgotten about the rest of the Avengers? I understand this is Stark’s movie, and the Mandarin is Stark’s villain, but at least acknowledge them. Captain America vs. a middle eastern terrorist? Come on, that’s just the perfect opportunity for symbolism right there.

ANYWAY, at this point I know exactly what you are thinking: “Why haven’t you talked about the BIG TWIST yet, Tom?” So, without going into deep spoiler territory, about half way through the film, a HUGE twist is revealed that has seemingly split audiences down the middle. It was a gargantuan gamble on Marvel’s part, with them obviously wanting to try something new, but unfortunately for them it doesn’t look to have paid off. Did the twist bother me? Well, yes and no. At first I thought “Holy shit!” and genuinely applauded Marvel for being so brave, whilst at the same time giggling to myself about all the Marvel fanboys who will no doubt be throwing popcorn and/or grenades towards the screen at this point. But then I stopped and thought to myself, as a DC Comics fan, how would I have felt if Christopher Nolan did a similar thing in The Dark Knight? Again, I’m not going to go too much into this comparison because that will spoil Iron Man 3’s twist. But if I think about a similar twist happening in The Dark Knight, I would have been severely pissed off, and probably would have left the theater. So, in that respect, yes the twist does piss me off. It pisses me off because I know that Marvel fans have been waiting for a certain aspect of this film since the first Iron Man film was announced. And not only have they neglected to include that aspect, they have taken it and completely butchered it. Marvel may have seen it as a gamble; a daring, innovative and ingenious ploy. I myself see it as Marvel taking a giant shit in the mouths of all their fans.

Looks cool doesn't it? Well you see each one for about 10 seconds. No shit

Looks cool doesn’t it? Well you see each one for about 10 seconds. No shit

Despite this, however, the film is still blistering entertainment and is easily as good as the first film (and obviously beats the second by a mile). The center set-piece (the aforementioned Malibu attack) almost matches The Avengers in sheer spectacle and CGI mastery, with a real fist-in-the-air moment featuring Paltrow’s Pepper Pots donning one of the suits. Oh, and about the suits…there are a LOT of them in this installment. With most of them put to use during the final confrontation. The only problem is that just as quickly as they are summoned, they are disposed of, thanks to the totally uneven movie physicality of any character that is infected with the Extremis virus. One minute, Stark can KILL one with just a powerful burst shot, the next they can tear each suit apart with their bare hands and rip out the arc reactor from each suit. Why does Stark’s abilities fluctuate in this movie so much? Why is he kicking 10,000 flavours of pure ass one minute, and then getting stomped on the next? If you’re going to steep your film in as much realism as possible by taking away Mandarin’s ten rings of magic, then how do you explain a character who can breathe fucking fire?!

In Conclusion:

Acting: 9/10 (can’t fault anybody, apart from Guy Pearce’s ham at times)

Directing: 8/10 (Black is for the most part on true form, but the film still remains uneven, giving credence to Black’s rumoured 3-hour cut)

Writing: 6/10 (don’t get me wrong, Black’s dialogue is nothing short of amazing. The film’s narrative flow, however, is extremely broken. And then there’s that twist. Fuck me, that twist)

Iron Man 3 will definitely go down as 2013’s most controversial summer blockbuster. On one hand, it is an extremely competently made action comedy with some outstanding performances, but on the other hand it has some serious problems that are only made worse by an almost soul-destroying twist in the middle act.

Final Score: 7/10

Disclaimer: As always, stick around after the credits!

Posted by: themoviecheese | April 13, 2013

Why Kryptonite Isn’t Needed In “Man of Steel”

So recently, Zack Snyder (director of up coming Superman film Man of Steel) has hit a pretty controversial bombshell about the film. He was quoted on various websites as saying:

I’m going to be honest with you. We haven’t used kryptonite in the film.

This has of course caused mas hysteria among the comic book community. Well I’m here now to tell why it’s just not needed.

1. The Villains

Michael Shannon as General Zod

Michael Shannon as General Zod

Not only is kryptonite not needed, it also wouldn’t make any sense to include it. Man of Steel’s only villains are General Zod (played by Michael Shannon, pictured) and Faora (played by Antje Trau) – both of whom are also Kryptonian. Within the context of a superhero film, the only person that would use a superhero’s greatest weakness against them is the villain. But in this case, said weakness would hurt the villain just as much as it hurts the superhero. Why would Zod just carry kryptonite around with him, knowing full well it saps all his strength?

2. It’s Stupid

Even as a huge Superman and DC Comics fan, I can very quickly agree with this. The fact that possibly the greatest and most powerful superhero to ever grace print can be so easily beaten with just a chunk of fucking rock is pretty pathetic. Henry Cavill (Superman in Man of Steel) has gone on record saying:

Although he is not susceptible to the frailties of mankind, he is definitely susceptible to the emotional frailties.

To which Zack Snyder reiterated:

It’s all emotional kryptonite.

Basically stating that kryptonite just wouldn’t make sense within the narrative of their film and that instead the film will play on the emotions of the world around him being Superman’s greatest weakness. Expect things like wanting to hug his mother (Diane Lane) but being too afraid he’ll crush her. That kind of emotion.

3. Sequels

Snyder hasn’t actually expressly stated that they won’t use kryptonite in the film series as a whole, only this first one. If they use a villain like Lex Luthor in any of the sequels then they would have to introduce something like kryptonite just so Luthor stands a chance. There is also the villain Metallo, who’s entire suit and backstory relys on kryptonite.

4. Superman Collapsing

The only thing that has me confused about this is a small moment in the second trailer, check out the 1:52 mark of the trailer:

You can clearly see Superman collapsing, seemingly in quite a lot of pain. When I first saw this, I thought it was kryptonite related, but now that we know kriptonite is not in the film I’m not sure. What exactly has happened to him? Are they pulling a “Superman II” and having him temporarily loose his powers? Or maybe General Zod is just too damn powerful for Supes to handle? What ever it is, it’s certainly intriguing.

So what do you think about the omission of kryptonite? Do you think it is stupid to have a Superman film without it? Or perhaps you agree with it being left out? Or perhaps you just don’t give a shit. Sound out in the comments below…

Man of Steel is released worldwide on 14th June 2013. It is directed by Zack Snyder from a screenplay by David S. Goyer, and produced by Christopher Nolan. It stars Henry Cavill as Superman/Kal-El/Clark Kent, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Amy Adams as Louis Lane, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Antje Trau as Faora, and Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White.

Posted by: themoviecheese | January 24, 2013

JJ Abrams to direct Star Wars Episode VII!!!

Well I for one certainly did not see this

image

one coming! It seems the long search is over for Disney to find a new director for their up coming Star Wars trilogy, or the first of the trilogy at least. The list was apparently narrowed down to Matthew Vaughan (director of Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class), Ben Affleck (director of The Town and Argo) or JJ Abrams. And after many discussions, it looks like Disney have struck a final deal with JJ Abrams! What’s weird about this is that Abrams is obviously handling another Sci-Fi series at the moment. He directed the Chris Pine-starring Star Trek reboot and is also just about to release the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness. So its safe to say that Abrams is about to become one of the most envied (or pitied) directors on the planet handling the two biggest science fiction properties on the planet.

What’s also weird is that Abrams stated himself that he will probably “watch the new Star Wars film as a fan” but would never even “dream of directing it” himself. However, if we look back to when we first heard the news of an Episode VII first going into production, George Lucas himself said that Abrams would be his preferred choice, and Disney have been pressing him for a deal ever since.

Now what’s great about this is that Abrams is a HUGE fan of Star Wars. It is almost like one of is – as fans – has been given the director’s chair. This means that at the very least we will recieve a very faithful continuation.

So what do you think about Abrams directing both Star Wars AND Star Trek? Think he has the skills to take on both franchises and still allow them to remain unique to one another? Sound out your thoughts in the comments section below!

Posted by: themoviecheese | January 5, 2013

The Hobbit: 48fps Vs. 24fps

Helloooo there! The Movie Cheese is back with a vengeance, only without Sam Jackson in tow *the sound of crickets and tumbleweeds*

No? Nothing? Well, okay then, not my best of jokes. Regardless, themoviecheese.com is back! And in great Tom fashion, my first post in over a year is going to be based on the controversial 48fps HFR format that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has been released in.

For those not in the know, The Hobbit Trilogy (yes, trilogy. Jackson has decided to make THREE films out of ONE book,
hobbit48fpsbut that’s not what we’re here to discuss) has been filmed in an entirely new cinematic format: HFR. HFR stands for High Frame Rate, and refers to a film that has been shot, edited and projected in a higher frame rate than the industry standard 24 frames per second. Since around 1927 when film started using sound, all films have been shot, edited and projected at 24fps. And being creatures of habit, we as audiences got used to this pretty quickly and thus it became a standard. The reason Peter Jackson has decided to shoot The Hobbit in double that amount at 48fps is down to one thing: 3D. You see, in 3D there are a lot of drawbacks. 24fps brings motion blur to the screen, which is fine in 2D because we are used to seeing it. But in 3D, that motion blur is what induces sickness in a lot of people because they are essentially seeing the same image twice. You also get a reduction of about 20% of the picture’s brightness due to the grey tint on the glasses. Also, because everything moves at 24fps, you get quite a bit of image ghosting and duplication, where basically you will see shadows of certain shapes in the film.

48fps all but eradicates this. The ghosting and motion blur is completely non-existent. It’s just not there. The screen still uses brightness. No matter what you do, those glasses are still always going to be grey. But filming at 48fps creates such a highly exposed image, that the reduction actually places the film’s picture at a normal level. However, those extra frames also makes everything move different. It’s hard to explain unless you really know about frame rates, but if you imagine the difference between a documentary or a soap (such as Coronation Street) and a film, you must have noticed how they move different? Well that’s because they are shot at different frame rates. Most TV is shot at either 25fps or 30fps (depending on the territory and nature of the program), which gives it a much quicker feel. So from that, you can imagine how much quicker 48fps/HFR moves at.

Now, The Hobbit has been released in four…FOUR versions. First, there is the bog standard 2D 24fps version, available in all cinemas. Then, there is the 3D 24fps version, released in most cinemas. Then, there is the IMAX 3D 24fps version, released in IMAX cinemas. And lastly there is the brand new HFR 3D 48fps version released in limited cinemas. The HFR version has had a limited release due to the expensive nature of the upgrade that projectors required to project at 48fps.

Now then, I have now seen The Hobbit in two different versions: the IMAX 3D 24fps version, and the HFR 3D 48fps version. Both versions are in 3D. The reaction from the HFR version has been extremely mixed. Half of the audiences have hated it, saying that it retracts from the fantasy nature of the film, and makes it less epic; instead seeming like a BBC miniseries. The other half have been astounded by the sheer clarity of the 3D on offer and the fact that all 3D distractions such as ghosting and motion blur are abolished.

Everyone knows how I feel about 3D, so in terms of which version I prefer out of all four I would personally prefer the bog standard 2D 24fps version (even though I haven’t seen that particular version yet, it’s just preference). However, if you absolutely have to see The Hobbit in 3D, then for my money, there is only one version that you should venture out for (and this may come as a shock)……

…..It’s HFR all the way. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Seriously Tom? You hate shit like this?!” And normally you hobbit-48fps-02__spanwould be correct. I have constantly groaned at the various iterations of 3D technology, but I can honestly say that HFR 3D 48 is the first true innovation of 3D. The Hobbit is the FIRST 3D film where I haven’t forgotten I was watching a 3D film half way through, and this is all down to those 48 frames per second. The clarity is absolutely astounding. There is NO motion blur, which means the action scenes are exhilarating as hell because you can follow each swing of every sword – and it’s all in 3D, which does actually add to the exhilaration. My apprehension of 3D comes from the fact that we always have to squint to see what’s going on during fight scenes. But in the HFR version, that’s not the case. The 3D is so damn clear that you can count the hairs on Gandalf’s beard. And as for the light issue, as I said earlier; shooting at 48fps makes the picture so incredibly bright that the greyness of the glasses basically reduces it to a normal level. At one extremely bright scene during the film, I actually took my glasses off to see what it looked like and it bloody blinded me.

Sure, people are saying it looks like a BBC miniseries, and they are partly right (especially during the ‘Shire’ scenes in the first half), but to that I say…what exactly is wrong with that? Sure it’s supposed to be a film, but are you saying BBC fantasy productions are bad? Look at the Sam Neil Merlin miniseries from about 10 years ago. That felt pretty epic, and that wasn’t shot at 24fps. Or what about the new Merlin tv series? Or, better yet, how about Game of Thrones which is shot at a staggering 60fps? I don’t think anybody can argue how epic Game of Thrones looks?

So there you have it. If you want to see The Hobbit, then I would personally recommend the 2D 24fps version. But if you must see it in 3D, go for the 48fps. Not surprisingly, James Cameron also plans to shoot his Avatar sequels in the HFR format, only he will be shooting in a staggering SIXTY fps. And you know what? I can’t fucking wait.

Posted by: themoviecheese | January 8, 2012

Sony Console Launches and Ridiculous Prices

So at the back end of February, Sony’s new handheld system – named “PlayStation Vita” – is set to launch. The system boasts an incredibly powerful quad-core processor (note: powerful by handheld console standards), amazing console-level graphics, dual analogue sticks (something that was notoriously missing from Sony’s first handheld effort the PSP), a front and rear touch panel, a 5 inch OLED screen, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, excellent online/social features with full Facebook Twitter and Skype support, and much more.

Surprisingly, despite the gargantuan hardware involved, the most staggering thing about the Vita is its price. The UK versions will retail at around £229.99 for the Wi-Fi edition and £279.99 for the Wi-Fi/3G edition. Not only that, but given the relatively poor reception of the console in its native country Japan (the consoles sales dropped in around 75% in just the second week), those prices will most likely fall even further before release. It’s been said that due to the surprisingly low price system, Sony are actually going to loose money on each system sold.

This may at first seem strange, but there is more to this than meets the eye.

First of all, Sony have said that the price drop is part of a “Three year profit plan”. They plan on the Vita out selling the PSP’s current 70 million unit mark in just three years. By which means they will have made a gargantuan profit. Can the system do that? Well looking at the Japanese figures, it seems incredibly unlikely. Having said that, the Japanese market is completely different to the US and UK market. We will have to wait for February and see how Sony plan on marketing this beast to see just how much of an impact it is set to have. One thing’s for sure, Sony better have a damn good marketing strategy up their sleeves, because they have to contend with not just the Nintendo 3DS, but also the smartphone market. With such iPhone games as Infinity Blade bridging the gap between mobile gaming and handheld gaming, will consumers really bother with a new handheld?

The other thing to consider is that the PS Vita has no internal memory. And here comes the real kick in the teeth. Remember when the PS2 came out and Sony invented their own memory for it in the form of a memory card? Now try to remember than the storage of the card was a mere 8 Megabytes. Now try to remember that seperately, the cards cost around £20 – in fact, even when the PS3 was released, one of those 8 Megabytes (Eight. Fucking. Megabytes) STILL cost £19.99 – the same price that could net you a 16 Gigabyte SD Card. Well it seems like Sony are up to their old tricks. As I said, the Vita has no internal memory. It needs memory however to save games and download content etc. So basically the damn thing is useless unless you get memory with it. The system does NOT come with a memory card in the box – you have to buy them separately. And – like they did with the PS2 – instead of adding a simple SD Card, Sony have decided to create entirely new and unique storage media for the Vita. These Vita-specific memory cards, look pretty much exactly the same as an SD Cards only smaller.

Now, let’s do a little price comparison. The Vita memory cards are being released in 3 forms – 4 Gigabytes, 8 Gigabytes and 16 Gigabytes. There has been talk of a 32 Gigabyte card as well, but thus far that hasn’t appeared on any retail sites. The 4Gb card is set to be priced at a staggeringly high £14.99. By comparison, a 4Gb SD Card would set you back a mere £3. The 8Gb Vita card is priced at a staggering £27.99. By comparison an 8Gb SD Card would set you back a mere 7-8 quid. And the most shocking of all, the 16Gb Vita card is set to be priced at a mind-numbing £39.99 – bringing the system’s cost up to around £300 (depending on which model you buy). By comparison a 16Gb SD Card costs around £10 – thirty fucking quid cheaper than the Vita card.

Apparently, the Vita cards have extremely high levels of security and encryption – which makes them incredibly difficult to hack. Now, this is all well and good, but surely that extra encryption can’t justify the extra £30. The prices are just bullshit, through and through.

And by the way, this is all coming from someone who actually plans on buying a Vita on release. The system does look incredibly sexy and it has a fantastic launch line-up (Uncharted, ModNation, Unit 13, Wipeout and Reality Fighters to name but a few). But, I can’t deny my anger at Sony for the cheer scam of these fucking memory cards.

And let’s remember that it isn’t only Sony who are guilty of this. Look at the Xbox 360 on its release. The original 20Gb hardrive would set you back around £69.99. Whereas the average 20Gb Sata Hard drive would be around half that at the time, possibly even less. Also, there was a 120 Gb drive costing around £150-odd, whereas a Sata drive might cost around a mere £40 at the time. Granted that originally the 360 didn’t really need much storage , but it’s still a legitimate comparison.

However, I have thought of a future solution. Now hear me out, for this is the sole reason of me posting this blog entry. What if…just what if companies such as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo decided – whenever they are about to release a new console – to release any peripherals that are deemed absolutely necessary (such as fucking memory cards) the month before the console’s official release. That would enable us – the consumers – to go out and get stocked up ready for the console’s release. Most people now-a-days get their wages monthly. This means that months wage could go on any important peripherals, and then the next month’s wage could go on the console itself and any games they fancy.

I honestly believe this is a fantastic solution to this problem. I’d love to be able to buy one of those £40 Vita cards now, with my current wage, and then by the console next month, with that month’s wage.

So yeah, there’s my plan. I just hope Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo find this/take note of this and think about this strategy for future console releases.

Sound out below in the comments to say whether you agree or disagree…

Posted by: themoviecheese | January 2, 2012

Where the Hell Is Tom’s “Top 10 2011 Movies” List?!

You’re probably wondering if I’m writing a list of my top ten movies of 2011…I most certainly am. However, there are a few movies released in 2011 that I have still yet to see, such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Troll Hunter and I definitely want to give these films a fair chance.

You see, in 2010, I awarded Inception the number one film of the year, and I awarded The Social Network the number two spot. Then, in 2011, I watched Black Swan…and it astounded me. So much so, that I was pissed off at myself for doing my top ten list before I’d seen it, since Black Swan is technically a 2010 movie (it was released in UK in 2011, but in US in 2010). The worst thing is that I can’t even include Black Swan in my 2011 list that I am currently writing, which means it has no place in any list.

That’s why, this year, I am making 100% sure that I have seen every film that has a strong chance at qualifying for the final list.

So that’s why the list probably won’t appear until mid-January-ish. I am also debating as to whether to release it as a blog or as a video on YouTube. Time will tell.

Of course, those of you who have been keeping a close eye on my blogs/tweets/statuses can most likely already guess which will make the top two at least, certainly the number one spot. Shall I give you a clue? Nah, gonna go check on the weather instead.

Ciao.

Posted by: themoviecheese | December 28, 2011

Tom’s Top 10 Christmas Movies

Tom’s Top 10 Christmas Movies

And so the Christmas season is here, and with it comes a selection of fantastic Chrimbo rarities on TV. There’s also the selection of those films that are shown year in year out. My list may not be as predictable. I don’t like films like It’s a Wonderful Life, White Christmas and The Snowman. I find them to be nothing more than pretentious, over-indulgent, soppy nonsense. I don’t care about going “Aawww” at Christmas, I’d rather go “Wow!” and split my sides open at hilarious comedy. I also prefer the films that represent the darker side of the holiday season. So here is my list of what I class as the top 10 Christmas films of all time…

10. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

The phrase “You have to see it to believe it” rings true here. Rare Exports is an incredibly bizarre Finnish movie directed by short film maestro Jalmari Helander. It tells the story of the “real” Santa Claus, who is unearthed from an underground prison by scientists. But this isn’t the Santa Claus who “rewards you when you’ve been good”, but it is the one who “knows when you’ve been naughty”. A dangly, almost troll-like creature, he is a terrifying sight to behold. Soon after, children on the dig site start to disappear, which forces the diggers (with the help of some hunters) to capture Santa. But then Santa’s elves appear, determined to free their leader at any cost… Putting an entirely original spin on the Santa Claus legend, Rare Exports is like a cross between John Carpenter’s The Thing, 30 Days of Night and Miracle on 34th Street. It’s a brilliantly new vogue of film making and definitely more than deserves a place in this list. He knows when you’ve been naughty…

9. Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

Another film showing the darker side of Christmas. Silent Night, Deadly Night is an old horror slasher film from the Grindhouse era of cinema. It tells the story of a young boy whose parents are murdered in front of his eyes by a scalpel-wielding Santa impersonator. He is then sent to an orphanage, and whilst there he spies on people having sex and realizes that sex is something very naughty indeed. Years later, he gets a job at a local store. But when he is required to wear a Santa costume for work, he snaps and goes out on a mass killing spree – dressed as Santa. A surprisingly scary film, Silent Night Deadly Night contains top-notch kills, brilliantly cheesy acting, and some fantastic gore. It also contains one of my favorite death scenes of all time: I am, of course, talking about the infamous sleigh decapitation scene. Brilliant.

8. Bad Santa (2003)

The general stereotype of a Santa impersonator is a fat, bubbly, cheery, bearded middle-aged man who loves children and yells “Ho ho ho!” at least 100 times a day. In Bad Santa however, he’s a foul-mouthed, hard-drinking, chain-smoking, child-hating, store-robbing bastard. This does in turn, actually cause him to be a lot more lovable. Bad Santa tells the story of two con men (Billy Bob Thornton & Tony Cox) who cruise from mall to mall dressed as Santa and Santa’s little helper respectfully, with the sole intention of robbing each store. This strategy becomes a lot harder however when they encounter a young boy who begins to teach them the true meaning of Christmas, and a security head who is on to their scheme. There was a lot of controversy surrounding Bad Santa when it was released, with many people ignoring the fact that it had a “15” certificate in the UK and an “R” in the US, and passing it off as a Jingle All The Way-style family film. Said people were met with an astounding shock when they found a film containing more “four letter words” than a Richard Pryor stand-up show. The proof is in the word “Bad”. This isn’t the Santa you know. Thornton is fantastic in the main role. His transformation from just an asshole into an asshole who gives a damn is a joy to watch.

7. Jingle All The Way (1996)

I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for putting this film higher than the previous three. In fact, I’m probably going to get flack for putting this film in the list at all. But the truth is; defending Jingle All The Way is very easy. Everyone knows the story; Schwarzenegger plays a hard-working father who forgets to buy his son the number one toy of the year, so he sets out on Christmas Eve at the height of consumerism hell to frantically find said toy. Most people who hate the movie, simply hate it as a crass consumerism movie based around the crass consumerism of America…starring Arnie. There are those who defend it by calling it a “sly undercutting of the Christmas consumerism myth”. I, however, ignore both of these things and simply see it as one of the most enjoyable films that an entire family can sit down and watch at Christmas. At the end of the day, Christmas is a time for the entire family to be together, which is why Jingle All The Way is so high on my list. There is something in here for everyone to enjoy. The adult humor for the comedy fans, the occasional fisticuffs for the hardened Schwarzenegger fan, the more child-like action scenes for the kids. This film should be in every Christmas list.

6. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

By 1993, Tim Burton had already proven that he was box office gold with Batman, Batman Returns, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, so by this time he was given the go-ahead to let his imagination run wild with the phenomenally successful animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas. He got together with director Henry Selick to discuss his vision. His vision was simple; as well as there is a North Pole where Santa and all the other Christmas creatures live, there is also a spooky land where all the Halloween monsters live. One of the greatest things about Burton’s films is that he always has a knack at portraying two (or sometimes several) completely parallel worlds. Here we have the Halloween world, the Christmas world, and the “real” world. The story is simple: Pumpkin King Jack Skellington begins yearning to claim the Christmas holiday for his own after getting bored with Halloween, so he sets out to kidnap Santa Claus. But while the plot may be simple, the character designs, songs, and general tone of the movie was incredibly unique and original for its time, and still remains so today.

5. Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Another Tim Burton film here and I’m sure I can here you say “What is Christmas about Edward Scissorhands?”. Come on, the entire story revolves around “why it always snows at Christmas” – as evident by the elderly version of Winona Ryder’s character. So while most of the images that will stick in your head are the bright suburban California setting, the beginning and ending are extremely snowy and Christmassy indeed. Also of note is the most beautiful and pivotal scene in the film. I am talking, of course, about the scene in which Edward goes a little bit mental with his scissorhands to create some beautiful ice sculptures. Most people know how I feel about Tim Burton. He is incredibly overrated and one of the least versatile directors of all time, but even I can’t deny the sheer grandeur of this film. Edward Scissorhands is one of those rare occasions in cinema when a group of truly talented people have set out to create something utterly amazing and emotional. The dedication of everyone involved shines through the screen, and never has Burton’s directing skills been so strong. A beautiful film that marked the very beginning of the long friendship and professional collaboration between Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.

4. Scrooged (1988)

My favorite of the hundreds of “Christmas Carol” films on offer, Scrooged brilliantly switches the original setting for modern-day New York. Directed by Richard Donner (SupermanThe Goonies) the “Scrooge” in the film is Frank Cross (played brilliantly by Bill Murray), a TV exec who’s station is about to do an adaption of the beloved “Christmas Carol” tale. Before you can say “breaking the fourth wall”, Cross has fired his staff, has “ba humbug’d” at the thought of Christmas, and is soon receiving visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past to teach him the value and meaning of Christmas. Donner’s direction is fantastic as ever, but the film belongs to Murray. Despite many claiming him to be “a chore to work with”, the man simply has comedic timing down like it’s a science.

3. Black Christmas (1974)

First of all, let it be known that I am talking about the original Black Christmas, not the terrible remake. The 1974 original Black Christmas is one of the scariest horror movies of all time. It’s a dark disgusting, atmospheric Grindhouse film with a fantastically eerie soundtrack. The film tells the story of a sorority house that is stalked – during Christmas – by a killer who uses grotesque language on the phone. It features some pretty strong performances including a star turn from Grindhouse legend John Saxon, and a hilariously mental turn from Margot Kidder (more famously known as Lois Lane in the Superman films). Black Christmas contains possibly one of the most scariest opening scenes in cinematic history, and to this day, even the original trailer (seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08U_JOv-6_Y) sends some serious fucking chills down my spine. It’s also the subject of a very controversial debate: just which was the first “stalk and slash” horror film made? The first ever slasher film is arguably Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, made in 1960. As for the “stalk and slash” genre, many people claim that John Carpenter’s Halloween is the first ever film to employ the “stalk and slash” horror technique, but that’s not true. Black Christmas is indeed the very first, made a full 4 years prior to Halloween.

2. Gremlins (1984)

The most festive of monster movies, it was obvious Gremlins would be high up on this list. A dark, twisted, violent and hilarious Christmas classic. It is damn near impossible to categorize Gremlins. It’s too violent to call it a kid’s film (it does have a 15 certificate), but it’s not quite intense enough to justify a higher rating. It’s a bizarre, fucked up consumerism satire that finally brought the darker side of Christmas movies away from Grindhouse theaters and into the mainstream. And for that sole purpose, it deserves infinite praise. Just in case you haven’t seen Gremlins, it tells the story of a young bank worker who receives a new pet for Christmas. Named “Gizmo”, this pet is a strange hairy little creature that has to follow three important rules: don’t give him water, don’t give him food after midnight, and don’t expose him to bright light. When two of these rules are broken, Gizmo “gives birth” to a group of green evil monsters who set about tearing his entire town apart. Director Joe Dante as always been brilliant at horror fantasy mash-ups. Even his live action/animation mix Small Soldiers is heaps a guilty pleasure because Dante presents a film for what it truly is, and doesn’t try to turn it into something it isn’t.

And so, the number one Christmas film of all time is…… 

 1. Die Hard (1988)

What else? In 1988, director John McTiernan took the Christmas movie category and turned it on its head to prove that all you need to make a successful Christmas movie is a fun action comedy movie with an incredibly likable hero taking down terrorists in a multi-story building. The set-up is simple, but it’s that simplicity and minor attention to detail and care that makes Die Hard the greatest action movie ever made in the minds and hearts of most film purists. And since it is arguably the greatest action movie ever made, then so should it be the greatest Christmas movie ever made. Bruce Willis left the life of TV shows and made-for-TV comedies and jumped straight into mega-stardom as the enigmatic NYPD officer John McClane. After arriving at the Nakatomi Plaza Building in Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his wife, the building is soon overrun by terrorists, and it looks like McClane’s Christmas won’t be so “merry” after all as he is the only one capable of fending them off. Mixed perfectly with hilarious witty comedy (everyone remembers that hilarious elevator scene) and intense action sequences, Die Hard is the perfect holiday season movie. Sure, it may not be for younger kids, but despite the “18” certificate It’s my belief that anyone as young as 12 could enjoy Die Hard in its entirety. The best thing about Die Hard, certainly at its time of release, was that its hero wasn’t a muscle-bound Austrian oak, or a Muscles-from-Brussels…instead he was just a regular, believable guy who just so happened to have extraordinary combat abilities. So on Christmas time 1988, this allowed the average Joe to really connect with McClane in a way that they had very rarely connected with an action hero before, certainly in the 80s where almost every mainstream action movies was taken up by the likes of muscle-bound beasts like Schwarzenegger, Norris and Van Damme. And that’s exactly the kind of thing you want from a Christmas movie; to connect with its hero and thoroughly enjoy his/her journey. Yippie Ki Yay, motherfuckers!

Have any more films to add? Or maybe there’s a few things you disagree with? Maybe you want to tear me a new asshole for not including It’s A Wonderful Life and White Christmas? Then sound off in the comments section below…

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories