It's amazing how similar these movies feel while being different in the set up.
A dudebro is depressed about not being able to kick off his dancing career, and sees an ad for a contest to get a show at Las Vegas, so of course we now have our plot. First, they need a video dance, then they get there for a (quick montage) of initial dancing, then go on to dance in the finals and such. There's a revelation about how the entire thing is a set up, so they decide to go all out and claim the victory for their own. Now, I haven't seen it, but I'm fairly sure they violate several of the conditions of the contest, but no-one cares about that.
So, yet again we have a dude-bro story... can we get a woo-girl story some time? At least the second one nearly was... speaking of, Andie is back, because... the producers offered her money? And Moose, of course, because we must have Moose. But it's really about Sean, a complete dudebro.
This feels more random than others. Let's have a dance, but then change the story up and have another dance, then move things around for a different dance, and so on. And the production is just ridiculous, and there's no way to justify some of the dance transitions in the movie. Give it up, and just put on the dance.
That's it for this set of movies, although it's time for the next one?
Saturday, 31 December 2016
It's amazing how similar these movies feel while being different in the set up.
Friday, 30 December 2016
Another new season, so of course another new telepath has to break out. How many ways can we tell that story? This is Secret Weapon.
The breakout is just an excuse for the military to join up with a reluctant parascientist to investigate the TPs. Reluctant, that is, to join with the military, when he's now getting friendly with the TPs. The military, as exemplified by Colonel Masters, nicks the new kids (Tyso), Stephen, and even gets Elizabeth to work for him. In order to stop this, John must let other authorities find out about them, and it's amazing how easy the PM is to kidnap.
Despite this being the introduction of Tyso, he's hardly in it outside of the first episode. And the main impression I get is... give the kid a haircut! Stephen also gets put aside quite quickly, leaving it to Elizabeth and John. Considering how much of a vunderkin Stephen generally is, this is quite different.
On the commentary track, we have Peter and Nicholas as usual, but also Ann Curthoys (Tricia Conway), who I think comes back in a later episode. I have watched all these stories before, but I'm quickly running out of the ones I remember.
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
I put off seeing this immediately. And with the irritating prats who also saw this movie with me, I should have waited longer. Just because there is loud music doesn't mean your commentary goes unnoticed!
We start with a ruined childhood, because apparently you can't be a major character in a Star Wars movie without having something screwed up happen to your parents! From there on it... we get a heist story. I'm not surprising anyone with this, but then this movie isn't surprising any body with this either. This feels middle of the road, it's almost more like an episode of the Star Wars Rebels cartoon (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this was an adapted script from that series, some of the characters felt familiar).
And yeah, the experience wasn't great. There a group of kids not too far away that liked to talk during the loud action scenes (so often), I could hear them talking but not what they said. And there were a few "jokes" in the movie that just got too much of a reaction out of one of them. Calm down mate! I don't want to go on about "movie etiquette" but damn!
The acting was all fine, but nothing too amazing, and the production was fine and... WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?? Peter Cushing's "performance" is straight from the depths of hell of the uncanny valley. I've seen too many video game cut scenes in my time to accept it for even a moment. And was I the only one to keep mishearing "Erso" as a particular swear word?
So yeah, not overwhelming, or even whelming (...which is actually the same thing...).
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
Stephen Moffat takes on comics, and provides his usual style of take. Ready for an hour of references?
Because of a stupid plot device, a kid gets superpowers, and now we are directly ripping off Superman. Not even slightly subtly, not with any particular new thing to say about it, just normal Superman story that you've already seen in the movies. Not even going into the comics, just the movies will give you more than enough to understand this!
Not content with that, we get an alien invasion in which people are replaced with aliens to take over their insides... wait, did Moffat decide to take on RTJ and redo the Slitheen? The Doctor references zips in heads, so Moffat clearly did this deliberately, and...
This all culminates in a story that really does nothing special. In many ways I was also reminded of Partners in Crime, with an evil corp trying to possess the world, although that was mainly the opening (non-boy) part. But we are so quickly introduced to characters, Grant and Lucy, that we are supposed to care about... but these are the cliches I can't bring myself to care in the slightest for. And then there's Nardole... really, did we need Matt Lucas back? Did he hold something over Moffat to return? Was this always the plan to give him more of a role? He's just there for the Doctor to talk to (which is the point of him... but that's the whole point of him, there's nothing else to his character). Can we bring back the lettuce?
I couldn't really believe I was watching this. What the hell, Moffat? What? The? Hell?
Next time: Bill comes in... and we get the same stories we've already had?
Sunday, 25 December 2016
Strangely enough, in a way that's not strange at all, I read Doctor Who biographies. So of course I would read Peter Davison's Is There Life Outside the Box?
This has moments of his past year while he is acting and writing the book and is used as segues back into the past to get into his history. We get the standard chapter about his parents and then onto his life. While we do get a lot of his acting career, we don't get everything (do we really need it?), and for Doctor Who... there is a chapter on it, but it's treated lightly. As Peter points out, he's been interviewed about it so much, and there's all the DVD commentaries, etc., there's nothing more he can really say that hasn't already been covered. From there we go on to his death... I mean this year, with him being affable and just present in his families lives... but he is still acting!
This is an easy read, in that the pages flowed by seamlessly as I was reading. I enjoyed all of it. Of course, I could have had more Doctor Who reminisces, but I can understand and agree with his reasoning. Also I did want to read about All Creatures and his other work. I should get around to watching that some time, as well as Campion (which I'm slowly listening to).
However, he is only 50, so there might be another volume? (Perhaps with more DW to fill the gaps?)
Saturday, 24 December 2016
This movie seems to take one moment from the second movie, and then make the entire movie around it.
Over in Miami, there is a dance crew breaking out flash mobs in the city, in order to get those YouTube hits. In the second movie, it was merely a way of saying "hey, we're here", but here's it's all about getting the views to get 10 million (although the view count doesn't work as the movie thinks it does). As well as this, a rich daddy's girl wants to be a dancer (I'm surprised they took until the fourth movie to get to this), and she joins up with the crew. But some people take it too personally and threaten to undo everything they wanted to say. (The link to the previous movie is by having some of the Pirates turn up for cameos.)
There might be more plot that than the previous movie, and I'm not going to make any racial references ('cos pretty much everyone in any leading in this movie is white... in Miami...), but let's talk dance numbers. Or rather, fully professional set up set pieces. And the crew are talking about needing to get money from the competition, but with how much they must be splashing out to set up their mob routines, I don't think they'll going to make any kind of profit.
As ever, the dance sequences are good, but in no way can be justified in the fiction. I'm waiting for one of these to have the movie just be one long dance number.
Friday, 23 December 2016
This is a Stephen heavy episode, and also features him in a kilt. From the commentary of other episodes, there may have been other factors behind this being written. This being The Doomsday Men.
There's a big peace treaty being signed, but the Doomsday Men aren't interested in this happening. The TPs find out about it, and that the grandson of the head guy is at a school, so Stephen is sent to join and find out secrets. Which he manages to does very easily, even given that the plot must of course have it happen. It turns out they intend to take over a space station, and threaten the earth. The Men manage to do that, but the TPs turn his grandson against the idea and it quickly falls to pieces.
And I mean the model does. Not literally, but the effects in the last few minutes of the episode are extremely terrible. Yes, dated effects and all that, but it looks extremely silly when the they are on a platform with (unbelievably) large gears turning the station, which are jammed and then we see the whole model suddenly start spinning. It works about as well as the comedy traffic cop (ie that doesn't work either).
Then there's the big plot whole whereby in the previous story they made a big deal about how they can wear AE suits with camouflage and comfortable environment controls, but make Stephen dress up in an actual kilt. (Which the commentators point out.)
That all said, this is a decent story where the world is saved because of the TPers. Again, it could have been edited down successfully, but what we have is worth watching.
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
With Readings down, I went to Embassy instead to see this. Man, those seats... I need to sit with nothing in front of me...
Anyway, the Doctor turns up in period New York and the suitcase bomb goes off... well, let's some animals out. Which enables them to go on a fun chase/montage sequence later in the movie to get them back! Yay! But then there's also a bad guy in the area, and so he and his assistants might work to uncover that while repeating the Ministry trial scenes from the last book. I do want to comment about the ending, but without spoilers, I will say it's surprising the Doctor hasn't done that more often.
Okay, yes, Eddie Redmayne is not the Doctor, but he was channeling Matt Smith's portrayal perfectly. At least in this case, we get some realistic American accents. But still just as tried as redone plots as the series itself.
DW aside, how does this fare? Eh, it's all right. I was never enamoured of the HP universe, so I wasn't craving this like some other people. It passed the time pleasantly enough... and apparently there will be more of them. Joy.
Monday, 19 December 2016
Doug Walker reviews Disney movies every December, and this time he has taking on sequels. I liked Mulan the first, so wanted to see it myself before his review.
Mulan and hubby come together to help China again... by escorting princesses. Also, after the marriage, Mushu loses his position, so let's split them up! ...there's a brief moment while he isn't going to give into the trope, but no, he has to give into it... We get the three comedy warriors from last time, and the cast is complete... and you can tell exactly what is going to happen.
Which is the big problem of this movie. After the big epic of the first movie, this just feels far too small in scope. Now, fine, they were hardly going to go with a full on army/battle again, but this is too much in the other direction. And the plot is just too obvious that you are just waiting for the beats to come. And speaking of music, it felt like it was a retread of the first movie with comparable songs, and in one case the same song.
I liked the first movie, and this didn't feel like a worthy sequel.
And what did Doug think?
Saturday, 17 December 2016
That classic trope of having the third movie being in 3D. Although since I watched this in 2D, it took a while for me to realise "that was supposed to be in my face! Supposed WAAAH!"
The plot is... completely incidental. There's a light sprinkling of a suggestion of a plot, and they connect to the Step Up world by bringing in the character from the past movie of... Moose... really? Although they then bring in the rest of the non-leads of the MSA crew. Anyway, there are a lot of dance battles, and that's all the movie features.
Again we have lots of dance crews doing their things. Complete with sudden dancing in the wet. We can't really pretend this isn't set up and spontaneous for a movie, right? This takes a lot of rehearsal, and it's great to watch, but I do want some kind of story, otherwise I'll just watch the Hip Hop International competition. That said, there's one sequence of Moose and Camille dancing together that just cannot be justified in the movie.
Although the leads are white, they aren't breaking up interracial relationships this time, because they aren't in any. Well done, movie, slowly growing up, but growing up.
Dancing has increased, but now could we get more story happening?
Friday, 16 December 2016
With this we continue with some form of continuity, with the return of Peter from The Medusa Strain. But this is A Rift In Time.
The TPs need to go back to 1 A D in order to save Peter from his gladitorial capture. But, as it turns out, their powers have been removed, because one of the people, Gaius, is a time traveler. He's set up a steam powered machine, and leaves... however one of the slaves knows too much about it, and changes the future/present day. So then they need to go back to the past, but the new present wants to preserve itself, and the latter lot are doing far better in Roman times than the TPs.
This story makes a bit of a meal of it all. Including a lot of eating, an explanation of time paradoxes, and monkey suits. And although this is four episodes, there is only enough material for three. By which, I mean the recaps are so long there might well have been only three episodes edited out to four.
The resolution is a bit pants. It is kind of set up, but the final result is more useful coincidence in a way that has nothing to do with the TPs doing anything.
There could have been more with the changed timeline, but clearly they wanted to do more of a Roman costume drama than anything actually interesting. That said, if this was better edited, it might be a far better story.
Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Another movie with a name of a twenty year old movie came out, and like that, this one is better than the big American piece.
Amy Adams interacts with an alien and forms too much of an attachment... only there's more than one alien, and it's just about how to talk to each other. Various countries decide to attack the aliens, so that's going to go well. Fortunately, of course, one person can save everyone, and guess who that is?
The first note: this is a very slow moving film. If you've seen the trailer, you know the basic set up, and this film takes ages to get there. Like with ID, this does take it's time to reveal the ship, but when they eventually do, it's almost incidental (I, at least, was busy looking at the great scenery when I realised what the film expected me to look at).
Then there's the point of the movie. I'm not so sure that I missed it so much as it was badly aimed. It could be about talking with foreigners, but the movie is more about Amy Adamns' daughter, and I'm not sure how that is thematically tied in to the rest of the movie. I got what was going on long before the character did, but the film ham-fistedly ties to be clever about it and just feels painful.
This could have been a great movie. I'm not saying it is even good.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Right, back to the proper horror of Aokigahara Forest with this rather more straightforward spooky movie.
Maiko wants to go back to the forest where her mother committed suicide and put her spirit to rest. On Halloween, of course, but other than the date, this has little to do with that particular coincidence. With her goes a small group of student documentarians, as well as three pranksters. They meet a friendly guide, get pranked, and then finally weird things happens as the pranksters get their come-uppances. Then weird things continue to happen to the four, until finally Maiko gets her chance with her mother, and isn't it everything we expect it to be?
I can see why people are saying The Forest was based on this. A young woman goes into the forest to seek out someone, starts seeing hallucinations, undergoes revelations about her past, and then gets a happy ending? But the approach is completely different, in this movie the person is also dead, that that other script is just a lot tighter with the characters.
This is also a mash up between Japanese horror and American horror, and the Japanese parts are well done. We get some atmosphere, and decent effects ala JH, and we are treated to more subtle displays of horror. Unfortunately, it then mixes in the American horror, which is more about killing off stupid Americans one by one, and stupid over the top villains, which is completely on display here.
Yeah, this is why I prefer to stay with just Japanese Horror...
Monday, 12 December 2016
Once more into the Aokigahara Forest, with a movie that doesn't know if it's trying to be drama or supernatural something.
A man enters the Forest, most likely to commit suicide, but finds another man in there, and quickly decided to help him. While doing so, we flash back to the man and his wife, as she is diagnosed with cancer, and then treated. However, in the forest, they are unable to find a way out, and barely manage to survive. Eventually we find out what happens to the wife (which I saw coming a scene early), and the man. Awww....
The part with the wife is drama. Not bad, a bit on the obvious side, we can see where it's going, and there it is. The part in the forest... was the forest trying to do something with them? Did they just get naturally lost? Was the other man real? We'll never know... because the movie didn't really care. Yes, it's about the man finding the will to live on without his wife, and beyond that the movie wasn't putting much of an effort in.
We get a subdued performance from Matthew McConaughey, a brief performance from Naomi Watts, and a better on screen presence in the form of Ken Watanabe. But not much presence of light, the forest is dark, and that's what you're not going to see, dammit!
A more downer of a film, probably not on my general list, but let's see what they do with the last go.
Sunday, 11 December 2016
I vaguely remember seeing a trailer for this, and I like J-Horror, so I gave this a go. However, there is a very obvious problem with this movie.
One sister of a pair of twins (save on casting!) realises her sister is in trouble. The sister in trouble, Jess, decided to go walking in Aokigahara Forest, which is known for people going in and committing suicide... so did Jess do that? Sara, the other sister, goes into the forest, with a guide and a random stranger she just met, and guess what happens... did you say supernatural stuff that makes her doubt everything around her? Yep, that's the one. And by the end I think we get some kind of twist, but it's a little bit of a mess.
Okay, let's get to it. This movie so clearly wants to be a Japanese Horror movie... however, it isn't even slightly a Japanese Horror story. One of the key features of JH is atmosphere, and this movie completely fails to do that. There are a number of spooky moments with sort of jump scares, and not one of them got to me even slightly. Leave it to the professionals... or at least actual Japanese... guys.
There are two other movies based on the same idea of the forest, so guess what's up next?
Saturday, 10 December 2016
We're stepping up once more, and with this the title worked so well because they had a two/to to play with.
We start again with someone, a young woman in this case, in the urban street dancing, and to not be shipped off to Texas joins the MSA, so we back in there. However, rather than about the MSA dance, although there is one, it's more about The Street competition. She's thrown out of her crew, so starts her own. Fortunately there are a group of MSA students that want to funk out, so they get together, then it becomes about the MSA not wanting anyone involved in the Streets, and the other crews not wanting them in the Streets. But, at the end, it's a big dance off, because of course it is.
Again we get a lot of professional dancing. And I don't care how great you are at improv dancing, there's no way you're ready to dance like that in the rain without practicing. Still, this was more "urban" dancing, so I was willing to accept the good styles, especially if, as I think, they got actual dance crews involved.
Also again, we get a racial connotation where by the two main leads are in sort of interracial relationships, but come together to stay in their own race. Really, movie? Can't we get past that? Well, we could start with not having the two main leads as white, that would help.
Better than the first one, I will go with, so clearly every movie is only going to get better!
Friday, 9 December 2016
Already we are onto the second season, with a change of the main cast. This is considered one of the better episodes, and it does works well. It's The Blue and the Green.
We start at a school as we introduce the main plot of the episode, and a new Tomorrow People. Despite that TP are supposed to be young, we get the rather adult Elizabeth M'bondo. She breaks out at the end of the first episode, and by the start of the next episode she completely accepted it and we settled down the main story. Which is one of the school boys has painted a picture which can make people crazy, because it turns out he's an alien and needs violence energy to hatch properly. Which takes five episodes to play out, but they do keep things going. We also get a replacement for the human friends, with Ginger's younger brother Chris as the new hard man.
One aspect that's quite different here to other series is that the TPs work out how to help the aliens rather than stop them. The aliens need violence, but the TPs aren't going to kill them to stop them, so have to allow them to get the energy. And yet getting the energy would leave people dead, so how can the TP get out of it? As it happens, there is some useful footage from people being in nuclear tests where they were lying down all over streets, so they are able to put everyone to sleep and act out violence in their dreams. Which works, huzzah!
Listening to the commentary, this is clearly the one they did first as Nicholas and Peter are here to begin with, and Phillip comes in with episode five. They have fun mocking each other but do have fond memories of it all. It is a decent episode, based on a historical moment, and shows off nicely how different the TPs can be.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Action! Accounting! Average!
Ben Afflick is a man with a disability with other heightened senses... senses for maths! And he also grew up with a gun, so when the money trail comes to an end, he grabs a rifle instead. Which makes all this sound rather more exciting than it is. This is just... generic. Nothing exciting happens, and the point of him being an accountant just means he gets the clues himself as opposed to someone else handing them to him to work out. Then the action sequences happen, because we need to have plenty of those.
It's hard to say more beyond all that. It's competent enough, but nothing surprising. Yes, there are obvious Daredevil parallels, but that just shows up how superficial both stories can be treated. There's no ninja with sais here, just a tiny diminutive Anna Kendrick.
Frankly, just go check out Seth McDebit instead.
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
The movie that was supposed to be on after the earthquake was delayed, so clearly no-one wanted to go into town. Anyway, it was moved to last night, and ended up wrapping up the 2016 Film Society screenings. This was in one of the previous film festivals, and fortunately screened now. It's Ever The Land.
Tuhoe is a Maori tribe in the North Island, and, like other tribes, were screwed over by the Crown. As part of them getting a settlement, they spent $15 million on building a building that would be used for their own purposes. We follow various people involved in building the building, from the architects to the builders to the Tuhoe overseeing it, to the Tuhoe helping work on it. The building is part of the Living Building Challenge, to ensure it is minimally environmentally impactive (although we're never told if the building ultimately meets the challenge or not). We end with the Tuhoe settlement with the Crown and the opening of the building.
This is one of those observational documentaries, in which the camera runs and they capture footage, but there is no talking heads to explain anything. So we pick up what we can, although there is helpful (actual) radio broadcasts that explain a few main points. This also means that we get natural audio, so if there is noise going on, or it's over a phone, the audio can be quite hard to pick out.
Overall, it's a good movie, and the building is impressive... but if I'm being honest, it looks a bit dull.
Saturday, 3 December 2016
I like some good dance choreography, so let's go for the set of movies that is set up on that idea. First up, first step.
The story isn't that amazing. A guy from the wrong side of the tracks ends up interacting with the right side of the tracks. While doing so, he, of course, falls for a girl and ends up having to weigh his street background with the more upscale lifestyle. And, conversely, she has to weigh up being a proper girl with being attracted to this bad boy chap. All while dancing to a show case moment.
What was more interesting/notable to me was the racial aspect. In that while the street is given as a multitude of black people, the 'hero' of the picture was a white guy, Channing Tatum in this case. Phew, because as it happens the hero girl is also white, so we don't need to deal with any interracial aspects. Managed to dodge that bullet. As it happens there is an interracial couple amoungst the b-plot characters, but she soon realises that he is a dick, and falls instead for someone of her own colour. Whether or not the movie intended to present this picture, it's there for people to read, and just made me sigh into my hands.
But, hey, we are here for the dancing. There is a lot, and it's done well. That said, it was clear these were well choreographed pieces with lots of rehearsing from the actors, so in character wasn't quite believable that they were that good, but that didn't seem to bother anyone involved. Basically, it all felt too polished for the story the movie was telling...
So far, not an impressive start to the series. Let's see where we go from here.
Friday, 2 December 2016
Speaking of stories where nothing happens, we have The Vanishing Earth.
There are disasters around the earth, and Ginge gets kidnapped... and that's the first episode. If you don't care about the saps, this is a long way of nothing happens. And in the second episode, the TPs looks around the fair.... and so it isn't until the third episode that the story actually kicks off, and then in the last episode there's a tremendous run around that feels like they had to pad more out.
There are a couple of notable performances in this. Nova Llewellyn is quite the looker, and she gets paraded around in mini skirts and a leotard outfit. Kevin Stoney stands around watching everyone, doing his inimitable eye brow action. And then there's John Woodnutt as Spidron, dressed up as a KKK member.
The start of episode two is an early example of the long reprise, but there are far, far, far worse moments to come. Ultimately, this is one and a half episodes of story spread out over four episodes.