I certainly don’t think that remaking foreign films for a ‘Hollywood audience’ is a great thing. It’s kind of like someone buying you a Christmas present and you taking it back to the shop for something better, just rude! You should be happy with the crap jumper and live with it!
For example, remaking The Raid is ludicrous! That is a fantastic foreign film and what makes it great is the fighting style (Pencak Silat) and filming style of Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans respectively. The plot is, as Monty Python would say, ‘wafer thin’, but in this movie, it doesn’t matter! It’s the aesthetic elements that make for a quality piece of cinema. So how is Hollywood going to remake this? Well, they’ve just released Dredd 3D, which has the same ‘story’ (if you can call fighting your way to the top of a building, a story) only in a different setting, with different pieces on the board. I do not believe this to be a smart move, but, if selling the rights to a big budget studio gets more money for Evans to make movies, and then influx of people watching the original in the build-up/aftermath of the Hollywood version, then so be it, everyone’s a winner!
However, there is an exception (and there is probably more that I am ignorantly unaware of) in the form of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A fantastic story and great book which deservedly (unlike recent literary phenomena) gained worldwide plaudits. The original Swedish film, on the other hand, was a poor representation of the intricacies of Larsson’s heavily influenced novel. It was graphic in the way that Swedish films are, but it felt flat in terms of depth and character, with Michael Nyqvist under-selling the intelligence and vulnerability of Blomkvist’s character. The performance of Noomi Rapace as the titular character, for me, is one of very few highlights in the film. It’s great now that Rapace is onto bigger things and has been involved in some good movies.
Moving back to the remake, it was going to be very difficult for Rooney Mara to follow the original performance, but she absolutely nails it. You instantly forget about the girl with the social networking issues and are faced with this troubled, violent yet extremely vulnerable character. Daniel Craig basically plays himself rather than stretching to the character too much, but he does bring two elements to the film. The first being that awesome thing he does with his glasses where they hang down of his face from one ear (I have been replicating this ever since, it makes me look smart….), the second being the vulnerability and very humane reactions he displays to the acts of violence that occur. Things as simple as yelling ‘FUCK!’ when he is confronted with a rather messed up cat on his doorstep and retching slightly as Lisbeth photographs it.
David Fincher and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth also do their jobs incredibly well, heading to Sweden for filming and really create the notion of isolation with this very desolate landscape covered in snow. I would be quite disappointed if Fincher was not on board for (at least) the first sequel (which I believe is going ahead with Craig and Mara??? Not sure).
I guess I’m basically saying, that the original is not always better (except in the case of Total Recall (and many others!)) and the remake should not be panned before viewing (which I am guilty of many times, but I see the error of my ways!)
So yet another video game will be getting the movie treatment. With any luck, Columbia Pictures and Avi Arad won’t royally cock up a good gaming franchise, although there are very few game-to-movie adaptions that have worked well, so I won’t be holding my breath for a decent movie. But hey-ho, it gives us the chance to look at the timeline of Metal Gear series protagonist, Solid Snake, in the fictional chronology of the games.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Released 2004 // Set during the Cold War in 1964
Snake looking pretty old during his (apparently) earliest mission. His age is a mystery.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable ops Released 2006 // Set in 1970
Snake, still with eye-patch from an injury suffered eating snakes
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker Released 2010 // Set in 1974
The peace walker, totally ready for peaceful times with an M16 and 2 finger gloves.
Metal Gear Released 1987 // Set in 1995
Not a whole lot of originality from Snake’s first outing. Note the unshamed rip off of Kyle Reese from The Terminator
Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake Released 1990 // Set in 1999
Snake looking kinda fat and old, but no longer like Kyle Reese. It’s amazing what 4 years can do to you
Metal Gear Solid Released 1998 // Set in 2005
Snake looking all arty in one of the greatest games ever. Never has hiding in a cardboard box been so much fun
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty Released 2001 // Set in 2007 & 2009
Solid only features in the prologue of MGS2, which sucks because Raiden is a bit girly
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Released 2008 // Set in 2014
Solid ‘I’m old but still gonna kick yo’ass’ Snake makes his final outing in Guns of the Patriots.
CIA suit, Mr Church (Willis) reassembles the Expendables for, what they think, should be an easy job. But when one of the team is killed by mercenary Jean Vilain (Van Damme), leader Barney Ross (Stallone) and co must head deep into enemy territory to finish the mission and avenge their fallen comrade.
Sylvester Stallone is the architect of this franchise. Perhaps he got the idea for an ultimate 80’s action hero team-up when he caught wind of Marvel’s plans for The Avengers. Regardless, with Sly in front and behind the camera for his first ensemble outing The Expendables, he produced a less than impressive shoot’em up, with minimal highlights. The much anticipated cameos of Willis and Schwarzenegger left a lot to be desired, along with any kind of solid plot.
That’s not to say that Con Air’s Simon West, taking over directorial duties for The Expendables 2, has produced much in the way of story and character depth, but there are far more highs than lows in this explosive sequel. The weight of the movie is carried on the hulking (if a little wrinkly) shoulders of its cast and the one-liners they spit out in between shooting henchman, blowing up henchman, stabbing henchman and generally doing horrible things to nameless goons, or ‘henchman’ if you will.
West’s lack of focus on characterisation could be forgiven, as the names and backstories are so irrelevant that they might as well have named the protagonists after their off-screen personalities. The only Expendable West tells us anything about is the young Hemsworth brother, who tells a typically generic tale of woe as a young, battle-worn soldier returning from Afghanistan.
Statham returns, wielding the most onscreen chemistry with Sly, while the rest of the non-action gags feel flat and forced. Crews could arguably be given more dialogue as the most naturally funny Expendable, but without a glistening action career, he is likely to be destined for a supporting role in the franchise.
The film really takes off with the introduction of Chuck Norris. The man can’t act, but there is something so incredibly charming about his awkwardness amongst the egos, that he nearly steals the show. Willis and Arnie get properly stuck in this time around, creating some fantastic scenes that will delight action fans over the age of 30 with some knee-slapping good gags. Disappointingly though, Arnie’s script is limited to variations of his past-era quotes: ‘I’m back’, ‘I’ll be back’, etc. and nothing more, while Willis is effortlessly cool.
The throbbing biceps and gruff voices are as strong as they ever were. A step forward from its predecessor, and a huge step back to the action heyday of the 80’s.
In celebration of the fact that it is only 14 days until The Dark Knight Rises hits our cinema screens in the UK and the rather more serious issue that I am in my mid-twenties and still cannot grow a solid beard, I’ve thrown together the timeline of Tom Hardy’s rather ugly (but undoubtedly impressive) facial fox. Hardy is a man on the rise, with a series of intense and impressive performances in the last few years, things look to be on the up. But do yourself a favour Tom, lose the whiskers and go with the ‘designer stubble’. It screams metrosexual but we all know you’re a man’s man and not part of this TOWIE crap!
Anyway, here it is… The Evolution of Tom Hardy’s Beard…
There’s been some clear trimming, so it’s reassuring to know that Tom looks after the fuzz, but at the moment, he looks like a bum. And we know from his recent success he’s got some spare cash lying around. I suppose it’s entirely possible he is planning his next part as a homeless lay-about. Go back to the old days Tom, ya know, when you weren’t discovering morsels of last night’s dinner on your face the morning after.
It has been a while since an ‘all-out’ action movie has impressed. So many Hollywood actioners tend to promise so much excitement but deliver little in audience thrills. Instead, we are bombarded with CGI explosions and stunts that are over-played in trailers and featurettes before anyone has set foot in a cinema to actually watch the movie. The closest thing we get to a ‘thrill’ is to experience everything louder and in 3D (most commonly hacked on in post-production causing headache inducing motion blur). It is then, a fist punching breath of fresh air, all the way from Indonesia, to see The Raid, a low budget martial arts/action film from relatively inexperienced Welsh director Gareth Evans.
The story (of which there is little) focuses on a team of SWAT cops fighting their way to the top of a tower block controlled by a notoriously dangerous criminal overlord, whose army of machete and AK47 wielding lunatics prove a little too much to handle for the unit. The script is minimal and the plot is basic and thin, but these are two elements that are relatively unnecessary in The Raid. Evans provides the audience with just enough back story to understand Rama’s (Iko Uwais) motivations and what plot there is, unfolds mostly in the final third of the film.
So what is there to talk about? Well, The Raid can be broken down as follows; Guns, Machetes, Fist fights!
In the opening third, when bullets are cracking through flesh and bone, the excitement is delivered through the stunning sounds of the weapons. Each shot sounds like it comes from a tank, this really starts the adrenaline flowing and is best experienced in a cinema or positioning your head between two huge subwoofers (not advised!). Subsequently, Evans demonstrates his ability to build tension during beautifully dark scenes after all the ammunition is spent, this is where the movie really gets moving as Rama is chased through hallways by machete brandishing thugs with only his fists and feet to protect him. It is here that we are stunned by the speed and prowess of Silat, the brutal martial art of Southeast Asian territories.
The fight scenes are choreographed exceptionally well, with Evans opting to shoot longer takes with a handheld camera, rather than editing multiple takes together. This method makes for chaotic sequences that often contain brutal fatalities, again, amplified by the sound of bones shattering blasted throughout the cinema sound system. The wincing and flinching noises coming from your fellow movie-goers also adds to the atmosphere and appears to build a sense of camaraderie, particularly as a round of applause was generated following the end of a lengthy fight scene at this particular screening.
The Raid is a one trick pony, but Gareth Evans has succeeded in creating awesome Friday night viewing, allowing us to be wowed by the experience without having to give too much thought to story and character dimension. Probably the best action movie you will see all year, The Raid is a must watch, particularly for those who have been desperately waiting for that rush that actions movies used to provide.
Turn your speakers up! (Warning: Contains violence and men yelling… a lot)
In honour of the first trailer for Gangster Squad that hit the web this week, we’ve got a feature on those bad ass mother truckers that keep the cops in business! Gangsters!
We all know that mobs and gangs are dangerous and ruthless, but what about when gangsters had style, honour and loyalty, when they were smart and calculating, when protection was bought and instead of threatened? BTTF has assembled (Avengers pun! Boom!) the leaders to our classic and most lethal mobsters in cinema!
The Boss – Al Capone (The Untouchables)
Robert De Niro plays the notorious gang leader in Brian De Palma’s 1987 crime epic The Untouchables. Capone controls Chicago by supplying low quality alcohol at high prices during the prohibition era.
Al will lead our ragtag gang of criminals and buy off the police and politicians to keep the business running smoothly.
The Brains – Tom Reagan (Millar’s Crossing)
Gabriel Byrne’s Reagan plays two rival mob bosses against each other in a violent war in the Coen Brothers’ Millar’s Crossing. Tom ends the bloody gang war himself through his own intellect and a few strokes of genius.
Tom Reagan will be Capone’s right-hand-man, he’ll keep the boys in check and make sure big Al doesn’t take any wrong turns that could see them all thrown in the slammer.
The Brawn – Michael Sullivan Snr. (Road to Perdition)
Tom Hanks expertly plays the main role in Sam Mendes modern crime classic Road to Perdition. Sullivan Snr is an enforcer for the Rock Island Irish mob in the 1930’s, after his son witnesses the murder of a gang associate by Connor Rooney, Sullivan flees to Chicago with his son, seeking work from Capone in order to discover the whereabouts of Connor and to avenge the murder of his wife and other son.
Sullivan Snr. is loyal, cold and violent. He’ll form a strong bond with his leader and get his hands dirty in order to protect his adopted mob family.
The Money – John Dillinger (Public Enemies)
Michael Mann’s biopic of 1930’s Robin Hood, John Dillinger sees Johnny Depp take the charismatic leading role. Dillinger boasted he could rob a bank in 1min 40sec flat, but only ever stole the banks money in an era when the public had lost faith in the systems that ensured economic growth.
With Dillinger’s specific set of skills, the mob will never be short of funds, even if some Eliot Ness or Melvin Purvis ceases a costly supply of prohibited alcohol.
The Rookie – Mickey Cohen (Gangster Squad)
Gangster Squad sees Sean Penn take up the mantle of Mickey Cohen, the entrepreneurial gambler who arrived late in the prohibition era and took to Los Angeles to build his empire.
Cohen is reckless and violent but dangerously smart, surviving countless attempts on his life and harbouring an arsenal of weapons, enough to support our mob for a lengthy war.
See the stylish and and exciting debut trailer for Gangster Squad below…
This one is pretty clear, as Mila’s first role of any importance in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, left us with our jaws on the floor and our tongue’s unravelling like in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Or some other cartoon feature where that happens. She has also graced the top 100 women lists of GQ, FHM, Maxim and Askmen.com.
2. She’s funny!
Mila isn’t afraid to laugh at herself, forging a career in comedies That 70’s Show and as the voice of the ever-irritating Meg Griffin in Family Guy. She also co-starred with James Franco in a parody of The Hills for funnyordie.com, a monumental achievement for the site generating over 1 million hits.
3. She suffers illness like the rest of us!
In 2011, Mila revealed that she has struggled with an eye condition causing blindness in one eye. She has since had surgery to correct the problem and her eyes are now safe! Thank goodness!
4. She went on a date with a US Marine!
Sgt. Scott Moore of the US Marine Corp took to YouTube to formally ask Mila to accompany him to the US Marine Corps Ball in North Carolina. Unbelievably, she actually said yes! If only we had thought of this first!
5. She played a cheerleader
Alongside Kirsten Dunst, Mila plays a cheerleader in teen rom-com Get Over It, which also holds one of the worst tag lines ever ‘Get Dumped. Get Pumped. Get Even’.
6. She has made mistakes
Not only did she date world renown spoilt brat Macauley Culkin, she also starred in several flops including American Psycho 2, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and Moving McAllister, all of which were panned by critics and audiences alike. However, we have forgiven her and all that is in the past! Phew!
7. She’s a bit of a geek
In 2008, Wired.com voted her one of the most attractive geeks due to her much publicised affinity to World of Warcraft, although she says it is harder to spend time on it now. Mila describes herself as a computer nerd despite not having a Facebook or Twitter account.
You’ll be able to see Mila Kunis alongside Marky Mark in Seth Macfarlane’s Ted, released in cinema’s 13th July 2012. Here’s the naughty version of the trailer!
So it’s 1st May and Avengers Assemble hit the spot taking £15.78m in the UK alone, with the US release coming in just a few days.
So what’s left? Well the juggernaut of summer blockbuster footage has not slowed down, instead we’ve been gifted with brand new trailers for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus and Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises within the last 3 days!
And let’s not forget underdogs The Raid and rebooted reboot The Amazing Spiderman!
So anyway, here are all sparkly, shiny, pretty trailers in one place for your ears, eyes and … err… nose.
The Dark Knight Rises
The Amazing Spiderman
And yes, I fully recognise that this is a cop-out for actually writing and promise I will actually write something soon!