Let’s face it, the best stories are the ones that have been around the longest. All the classic characters, plot lines and themes originate in ancient folklore, fairytales and mythology – and you could even say that everything that has ever been written since then is in some way just a variation on these tales. Coming up with something totally original, and better than anything we’ve heard before, is a pretty difficult thing to do. That’s why I love it when, instead of trying to write a totally new story, film-makers take the classics and just revamp them to make them relevant to contemporary life. Kind of like the Shrek series did, by taking well-known fairytales and just adding a modern sense of humour.
And I’m happy to say, Rob Letterman‘s adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s classic Gulliver’s Travels, is a fantastic upgrade of an age-old fable. The film focuses on Part One of the four-part novel: The Journey To Lilliput. This is arguably the most famous section of the novel, in which, as we all know, Gulliver finds himself shipwrecked on an island inhabited by tiny people – making him a giant. Except this time, Gulliver is a fat guitar-hero fanatic from Manhattan, in the shape of Jack Black.
The Lilliputians, led by their king, Billy Connolly, are as small-minded as they are small-bodied, living a rigid life of strict protocol, whilst priding themselves on their expert building ability. Obviously, once the lead singer from Tenacious D turns up, his party attitude and rock’n'roll antics teach them to losen up and let it all hang out. I have to say I don’t often laugh out loud at the movies, but this one definitely got a few chuckles and even the odd chortle. If you can’t be bothered to read the book, just see this film.
It’s the penultimate adventure for our supernatural school kids, or strictly speaking part one of the LAST EVER Harry Potter! Apologies for the CAPS but it’s a pretty big deal in movie land!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows finds the wizard world in chaos as Voldermort’s resurgence is in full speed. With the Order in control of Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic it’s not an easy time for good wizards, but Harry Potter aka The Chosen One is determined to pick up where Dumbledor left off – cutting off The Dark Lord’s power source by finding and destroying the remaining Horcruxes. Not as easy as it sounds, even with the good wizard collective supporting him.
The movie begins with an epic chase through London as Harry tries to make his way to the Weasley’s burrow. Knowing that Voldermort and his minions would be out to capture Harry while he was travelling, everyone has transformed into a Potter doppelganger using polyjuice potion. However, polyjuice pranks are no match for the Dark Lord and his Death Eaters and the gang soon find themselves under attack. With a few casualties sustained the gang arrive at the Weasley burrow, where a despondent Harry decides it’s time to go it alone to save everyone else from getting hurt. However, Ron and Hermione are unwilling to let their friend shoulder the burden on his own and after a visit from Rufus Scrimgeour who reads Dumbledore’s last will and bequeaths a few handy items to the gang, our intrepid threesome set out to find the Horcruxes and stop Voldermort once and for all!
All the old familiar faces return to the Deathly Hallows including Dobby the Elf (yay!), Dolores Umbridge (boo!) who is now persecuting Mud bloods in the newly fascist Ministry of Magic, and all the old Order crew – Professor Snape (Alan Rickman), Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter).
As the series has progressed a darker fantasy world has been created which is a million miles from the Hogwarts of Philosopher’s Stone. As the audience is growing up, the movies have become darker, and as an adult viewer this has meant they are becoming more enjoyable (and less of a guilty pleasure) as the series comes to an end. This is perfectly highlighted with an excellent animation sequence which tells the back story of the Deathly Hallows which wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton fantasy. It’s a shame it has to come to an end, but bring on the final battle!
I’ve always said I’m not that keen on Facebook, but the other day I looked at my profile and realised I’ve managed to clock up 500 friends from somewhere. Looking down the list, I was quite shocked at how liberally I’ve been accepting ‘friend requests’, considering how few of these people I actually like. The important thing is, that while I may not feel all of these 500 people deserve the honour of being my friend, I have at least met every one of them.
Catfish is the story of Yaniv Schulman, a 24-year-old photographer from New York, who becomes ‘Facebook friends’ with a family from Michigan. Despite never having met any of them, he manages to fall in love with Megan, an incredibly talented dancer and musician, whilst at the same time befriending her MILF of a mother, Angela, and younger sister, Abby, who at the age of 8, is a painting prodigy. And he didn’t think any of this was a bit fishy! That is, not at first. But a few cracks soon beging to appear in this family’s story, and he starts to suspect they may not be who they say are. He finally decides to surprise them with a visit, and that’s where it all unravels.
Now, I’m not trying to say the internet isn’t great (after all, blinkbox couldn’t exist without it), but if ever there was an example of why you shouldn’t live too much of your life online, this film is it. Go outside and make some real friends!
At blinkbox, we love the internet. We wouldn’t exist without it. And neither would Fred, the YouTube sensation created by Lucas Cruikshank. For those who don’t know, Lucas is 17, but plays a six-year-old kid named Fred Figglehorn in a series of homemade videos which he posted on his YouTube channel. After a few million hits, Nickelodeon came-a-knocking and turned him into a TV star, before eventually screening Fred‘s first ever feature film. The Americans loved it so much that now it’s being released in cinemas over here in the UK. Will we receive it in the same way?
Well, to give you an idea of what we’re looking at here, Fred is now in high school, and we find out that he’s 15 years-old, although he doesn’t seem to have changed since his YouTube days as a six-year-old. Luckily I caught up with Cruikshank who explained to me that Fred has actually always been 15, but has the mental age of a six-year-old. Sounds like poor taste, but it was such a hit in America that they’ve even persuaded Pixie Lott to star as Fred‘s high school crush, Judy. Basically, the plot revolves around Fred‘s obsession with Judy and his quest to find her after her family moves house.
Obviously it’s a kids’ film, and no doubt children will love it for its slapstick nature and general over-the-top-ness.
The Step Up franchise has been a sleeper teen hit. Taking the box office by surprise back in 2006, Step Up became one of the breakout hits of the year taking over $100m and propelling Channing Tatum to superstardom. This was quickly followed by Step Up 2: The Streets which upped the dance quotient and the box office takings ($150m), and again with Step Up 3 ($160m).
Luke (Rick Malambri) is the centre of attention in the latest of the series; an impossibly good looking and talented dancer, Luke is also a ‘serious artist’ and is making a documentary film whilst also heading up the Pirates dance crew. The Pirates crew is so hot, apparently, that the club can’t even handle them, so they’ve built their own Danceteria ‘The Vault’ in Luke’s NYC pad where they can show off their moves and talk about what dance means to them – ‘dance is like breathing, when you dance you are free, dance has a vocabulary’ etc. How a bunch of broke dancers can afford not only a giant loft in NYC but to build a club inside is besides the point, what is important is that only the best dancers make it to the Pirate crew, dancers that are BFAB (Born from a Boombox!).
One such dancer is Moose (Adam G. Sevani). Moose has just moved to the city (from the suburbs of Step Up 2) to study at NYC and gets spotted by Luke when he accidentally gets embroiled in a dance off with Kid Darkness of the Pirates rival dance crew – The Samurai. Luke takes Moose under his wing and encourages him to ditch his engineering classes in favour of dancing on rooftops and worshiping vintage Nike trainers in his loft. Vengeful Samurai aside, all is going well until the gang are threatened with eviction as they haven’t paid their mortgage for five months. Thankfully the World Jam competition is just around the corner with prize money of $100k, which should cover the bills…
Despite my sarcastic tone and mocking of the plot, I actually LOVE the Step Up movies! I expected a third movie might have signalled the barrel being scraped but it actually holds its own against the previous, and with regards to the spectacle of the dance-offs it’s actually better than the previous two. Parts of the movie play like a music video (like the work of David LaChapelle or Paul Hunter) but this actually works really well, especially in the epic final battle of the World Jam. Director Jon Chu is fast becoming a master in this field with Step Up 2 and Step Up 3 and the acclaimed League Of Extraordinary Dancers TV show under his belt.
A film like this is sold on the visuals and it definitely does not disappoint. Inside ‘The Vault’ there are walls of boom boxes for speakers, grafitti rooms, and entire secret room/museum of of retro Nike sneakers – the House Of Pirates is an awesome home to the likeable gang of super talented street kids. The real star of the movie though is dance – Jamal Sims choreography is spectacular – I’m ready for Step Up 4!
Partying every night and having glamorous women throwing themselves into your bed might sound like a pretty good thing, but trust me, it’s a drag. If you don’t believe me then watch Sofia Coppola‘s new movie Somewhere, which won the Golden Lion Award at this year’s Venice Film Festival, and which counts the spiritual cost of celebrity life. It might even make you feel sorry for us…err… I mean them.
Somewhere tells the story of an over-sexed, over-appreciated and under-fulfilled Hollywood A-list-er (Stephen Dorff), struggling with the boredom and emptiness of his rock’n'roll lifestyle. When his eleven-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning), turns up at his hotel room, the two strike up a relationship which seems to finally give some sort of meaning to his existence. Only when she leaves does the emptiness of his life really hit him, forcing him to take a good look at himself and make some changes.
The film reeks of Sofia Coppola (I mean that as a good thing). By that I mean it carries on the tradition of Lost In Translation (which won her an Oscar for best screenplay), in that it centres around a ‘lost’ character, who seems to ‘find’ himself through his relationship with another person. It’s a very atmospheric movie, with lots of long, drawn-out silences that suck the audience into a scene and really ram the mood down our throats (again, I mean that in a good way). According to the director, the film was partly inspired by her relationship with her own father – the legendary Francis Ford Coppola.
So if you’ve always been jealous of the rich and famous, this film could change your mind. Or it could just make you even more jealous.
Ja’mie is an exchange student from a private school, and a spoiled teenage biyatch! She talks about the other ‘povo’ students, she is racist towards the Asian students, calls anyone she doesn’t like ‘fugly’, and is mostly concerned with her own ‘hotness’… and the ‘randomness’ of ties.
Then there’s Jonah, the school bad boy and bully. He suffers from learning disabilities and acts out in class, a lot. He is head of ‘Poly Force’ a (terrible) break dancing crew made up of his Polynesian mates from school who are in a fierce rivalry with talented younger dancer Kieran. He spends most of his time harassing the ginger kids at school.
Next up, Mr. G is a wannabe star who thinks he’s slumming it being a drama teacher. Apparently, SHH is getting a professional actor/dancer/choreographer for the price of a teacher and he wastes no time in reminding the Head of this at every opportunity. Mr. G is generally accompanied by his tiny dog Celine (a further source of friction with the Head) who has an oversized brain and is exceptionally talented… for a dog. When he is not teaching class or berating the disabled students he is writing classic musicals such as Tsunamarama – the 2004 Tsunami disaster set to the music of Bananarama. Genius!
Summer Heights High is truly one of the funniest shows I have ever seen and half the script is repeated ad nauseam amongst my friends – Mr. G’s Ecstasy song for the school musical being a firm favourite. It’s one of THE biggest TV shows ever in Australia, and one you won’t want to miss. Best of all… it’s FREE on blinkbox!
Thanks God for aliens! After all, there are only so many films you can watch about humans before you start to get a bit sick of the little prima donnas. They’re just so self-indulgent, always desperate to survive, find love and happiness, etc… Extraterrestrials, on the other hand, seem to lack any sort of agenda, other than just creating havoc. And Monsters delivers the perfect example of wonderfully aloof, endlessly entertaining aliens.
All everyone knows is that a NASA probe, sent into space six years ago to collect samples of alien life, crash-landed upon re-entry in Mexico. Now, these massive, squid-like creatures have taken over the northern half of the country, prompting the United Stated government to build a colossal wall along its border in order to prevent the spread of the ‘infected zone’ into the promised land (that’s the US of A). The creatures themselves are brilliantly enigmatic, just chilling out in the mysterious jungle, clumsily killing a few peasants and heavily armed troops with their humungous tentacles. What we end up with is an intergalactic gauntlet, as we follow two Americans trying to navigate their way through the perilous, alien-infested jungle to the safety of their home country.
By the end of the movie, we realise just how much we don’t understand about the aliens’ purpose and nature, and maybe our instinctive fear of them and knee-jerk reaction try to kill them is a bit unfair. Are they just as lost as we are? Could it be that they have emotions too? It begs the question: have we learnt nothing from E.T.?!?!