Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The World's End: A Review

Before I begin, Beautiful Reader, a round of applause to you all. I just realised that my blog has had 1000 page views! Now, that may be very small potatoes compared to actual internet sensations, and I'm sure most of those views were by the same people, but a nice round number always makes me happy, so I wanted to say thank you.


Okay, now to the business at hand.

Let's set the scene of my trip to the cinema. I have loved Simon Pegg since Spaced and Hippies in 1999. I know from bitter experience that most of you won't remember that second title, but it was an awesome sitcom about, well, hippies and should definitely be checked out by all. Assuming that they aren't running some kind of international crime ring, I truly believe that Pegg and Edgar Wright can do no wrong. Even if they are, in fact, gang bosses, I bet they're really nice about it and have very good reasons for what they do. Shaun of the Dead is one of my favourite films of all time.

Now, those are some pretty heavy expectations to lay at the door of The World's End, but at no point did I bother to try dialing those expectations down, because I knew that the final instalment of The Cornetto Trilogy wouldn't let me down.

And it didn't.

I went to see it in my favourite slightly scummy local cinema (if the Cineworld Hammersmith ever refurbishes, I may shed a little tear) and had amazing seats. The front row of Screen 3 is far enough away to just feel like you're at home with a really, really big TV. I had some chocolate. It was fabulous.

All my expectations were met. I laughed, I cried (I'm a softy, deal with it), and I left thinking how I couldn't wait to get it on DVD so I can have a Cornetto triple bill. It may not have zombies but (no spoilers) there is another of my favourite things in it, and one of the best fight scenes I've seen in ages!

All I can think right now is that I really want to go and see it again, and that thought is distracting me!

It had an amazing soundtrack, a great story, and I walked out of the cinema feeling bloody awesome. What more could you ask for?

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Pacific Rim: A sort of review

Please allow me to tell you a story. It's going to seem a little unlikely, but it's the only thing that makes any sense.

Guillermo Del Toro is in London to preview Pan's Labyrinth at Frightfest. The film ends and the director walks to the front of the theatre in silence. Then the applause starts and the audience take to their feet as one to give him a standing ovation. Del Toro looks out across the crowd and sees, there in Row G, a young lady at her first ever whole Frightfest weekend, barely able to talk because she has been so moved and amazed by the film she has just seen. He looks at her and thinks, I'm going to make a movie, just for her.

Over the next few years, Del Toro undertakes covert surveillance of this young woman, possibly even employing spies to follow her around and go through her rubbish. He discovers that she likes gigantic robots, big explosions, attractive men in armour, shiny red shoes, Ron Pearlman and stories in which people come together to take on a seemingly unbeatable foe. He stays awake for days at a time trying to fit these elements together until, finally, a story strikes him and the film can get under way.

Beautiful Reader, that young woman was me and that film was Pacific Rim.

I could gush in about it for hours, but just do yourself a favour and go see it, on the biggest screen you can find, and in 3D if your eyes work like that.

Thank you Guillermo for bringing Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, and Rinko Kikuchi together to make the most beautiful film cast maybe ever, and then putting them into a great story with brilliant effects

Monday, 22 July 2013

Warm Bodies: A Book Review

There are some books that please, some books that disappoint, and some books that just completely surprise you. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion falls firmly into that last category. I remember being intrigued when it was published. It's a book about zombies, so obviously I was interested, but the fact that it was about a romance between a zombie man and a living woman and had a quote on the cover from Stephenie Meyer, sort of put me off. I worried that this was just a cynical attempt to drag zombies into the Dark Romance category, to hook both the Twilight fans and the Shaun of the Dead fans in one fell swoop. Then, for reasons I can no longer understand, I decided it must be funny. I guess horror-comedy is just where my mind retreats to when faced with the possibility of Undead sex.

Well, it's not a comedy book (other than the humour inherent in rotting corpses moving around), and that's fine, because it's not meant to be. What it is, is the tale of the transformative power of love versus the danger of hatred, negativity, and order for the sake of order. Yes, that sounds cheesy, and it is a little; yes, the main characters are called 'R' and 'Julie' (the significance of which took me far too long to register) and maybe it did appeal to my romantic tendencies, but the point is that it's really well done.

The story is narrated by the zombie, 'R', and it's well written from when he's shuffling about in an airport, abandoned by all but the Living Dead, right through to the exciting end. You share his thoughts, as well as the physical changes and the flashes of memory he experiences when eating the occasional chunk of brain. This is also how you learn about the destruction of the world, and how bleak things are both for the Living and the Undead.

Marion has done something quite clever in managing to create a new kind of zombiism (I thought the Bonies were genuinely creepy) and balances the large scale problems with the domestic really well. I actually cared about what happened to the characters.

I haven't seen the film yet, but I'd be intrigued to see if it's any good. So much of the book is internal, the inner thoughts of a creature who appears just as a shuffling corpse. How does that translate on to the screen, or do we have another World War Z situation, where the source material is sadly wasted? We shall have to see.

I seem to have abandoned my rating system, and I've decided I'm fine with that. Suffice to say Warm Bodies is a far deeper and better written book than I expected it to be.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Horror for Kids #1: ParaNorman

Through my own volition, and not through any criminal or lewd acts, I recently became unemployed. I have so far used this time productively to go on long walks, play with kittens, watch movies and, through the power of my mind, summon up the hottest July in seven years. Okay, that last one might not be entirely true, but surely it's more than a coincidence that this beautiful weather started at the same time as my last week at work?

Anyway, I'm getting off the point.

One of the movies that I watched was ParaNorman. I meant to go and see it in the cinema, but, along with so many other films, didn't quite get around to it. Anyway, I saw it was on, and gave it a go. It was fab. Norman sees ghosts, not in the movies or on TV, but all around him, and no-one will believe him until a Zombie Apocalypse appears to have befallen the town (is that grammar a bit weird? I just really like the word 'befallen').

Yes! This is a zombie film for kids, and I am so jealous that this wasn't made when I was about eight! From the opening scenes in Norman's bedroom, which is filled with amazing horror paraphenalia that I need to own (I don't care if it's not real), I was hooked. There's a good, solid, story with an important message at the end that manages not to be cloying. There are a few bits that will creep out the kids, but not give them nightmares, and some really funny moments. There are also enough references to adult horror films to keep the grown-ups entertained.

Frankly, even if the story was only so-so, I'd have been impressed by the animation. I love a bit of stop-frame. It looks beautiful throughout, and the way they animate the witch, especially at the end, was stunning.

So, basically I loved it. If you have a kid who's showing an interest in the wonderful world of horror films, but maybe isn't quite old enough to cope with the 70's fashion in Dawn of the Dead, then this is a great place to start them off. It then occurred to me that there are actually quite a few cool horror things for kids, so I'll add that to my list of occasional series. For now, though, go and watch ParaNorman. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cool Stuff I Own #2

That robot I was talking about in the last post? Here it is...
Pretty cool, huh? Back in the day it could even walk and blow smoke out of that grid. Damn, I love that Robot.

But, wait... what's that? There's a tiny zombie with a walkie-talkie sitting on his gun belt! Is he in control? Have the Robots and Zombies united against us?

We are in trouble!