Mar 07 2013

The 9 Best Movie Androids of All Time

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 4:33 pm

This week marks the full release of our all-new Android App from blinkbox. Allowing you to buy, rent and watch your movies and TV shows from the convenience of your Android tablet, the app is totally boss.  To celebrate this good news, we came up with our Top 8 Movie Androids EVER: check’em out!

1. R2-D2
Manufactured by Industrial Automaton as part of the R2 series, Artoo-Detoo isn’t your run-of-the-mill astromech droid. Capable of hacking computers, putting out fires, repairing starships delivering drinks on slave barges, this tiny unit is one of the most versatile models ever built. Over the course of decades, he’s also managed to be present at just about every major galactic event from the discovery of Anakin Skywalker to the destruction of both Death Stars! With his unique loyalty algorithms, you can be sure that R2-D2 will never leave you in a jam.

2. Johnny FiveCreated by the United States military at the height of the cold war, Number 5 was given life by a freak electrical storm — a common occurrence in the 80s. Driven by his new-found craving for ‘input’, this highly advanced killing machine transformed himself into Johnny Five: an adorable, pop culture-quoting, smack-talking dude on tracks!

3. PrisIf you’re planning to colonise Mars, you’re going to need yourselves some replicants to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. They basically look like humans but for some reason, nobody seems to mind if they end up trapped underneath some boulder on the Red Planet. Once you have your colony set up, you’re going to need to start building your new civilisation which is going to require some sexy replicants to do a lot of the ‘comfort work’ that human prostitutes aren’t willing to do themselves. Enter Pris: your ‘basic pleasure model’ designed for off-world use. A word to the wise, however: don’t let her gentle looks deceive you. She is phenomenally strong and will do anything it takes to survive should she ever learn about her short in-built lifespan.

4. NS-5 Robots So, you live in a world where robots are absolutely everywhere. They do next to every kind of job imaginable. Hate walking your dog? Robots will do it! Can’t bear listening to your husband moan about his boss? The robot can nod reassuringly until he is placated! These robots are almost entirely safe thanks to the Three Laws of Robotics that ensure that they: 1) may never harm a human or allow a human to come to harm through inaction; 2) must obey the orders given to them by humans, unless it conflicts with rule 1; and 3) must protect its own existence, as long as it doesn’t conflict with rules 1 and 2.

With these three rules in place there definitely can be no logical loopholes that, when exploited, can bring about the downfall of humanity. So, no worries there, right?

5. The Iron Giant Guns don’t have consciences. But if they did, you would hope that they look and sound like this adorable intergalactic traveller. Like a new born child, he has no memory of his past; and despite his over-sized metallic body, he plays well with other kids. Concerned parents should bear in mind, though: though the Giant may have a heart of gold, he also has laser eyes and  can level an entire city in an hour.

6. Robby the RobotRobby is pretty much the best robot pal any hermetic scientist could ever hope for. He can drive atomic cars but most excitingly, he can ‘cook food’ through a process of replication. All you have to do is stuff a food item into his port (or ‘pie-hole’) and his small in-built chemical laboratory will reproduce it ad infinitum, allowing him to excrete pies on demand. Who wouldn’t want one of these around the house? As an added bonus, Robby is “monitored to respond to 187 languages” although his mis-use of the word monitored would suggest that he hasn’t mastered English yet.

7. T-800 Has a liquid metal organism arrived from the future to assassinate you? Does it intend to prevent the human uprising against the machines that you will one day lead? If so, you’ll have to come with the T-800 if you want to live. Programmed with the sole task of protecting your video game-playing, motorcycle-riding rear end, this hulking machine can be taught to do other things as well. If prompted, he can: not kill any humans, spout ‘cool’ catch-phrases that no one in their right mind would ever use and understanding why you cry (though it is something he can never do).

8. Wall-E

In the near future, when Earth is covered in commercial waste and junk mail, the planet will no longer be able to support life. When that happens, you can employ the services of Wall-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter: Earth class), a tiny robot designed to compact rubbish into cubes which he will then stack into towers. Pretty neat, huh?

And the best part is, all he needs to maintain himself over 700 years of service is the Sun (to recharge his batteries), his prized collection of cutlery and a single VHS copy of Hello, Dolly! (which will have miraculously survived into the year 2810).

9. BishopOkay, so humans didn’t have the greatest experience with earlier models of Weyland-Yutani’s artificial life forms. The company openly acknowledges that previous designs of their humanoid cyborgs did have a tendency to obey corporate orders without any due consideration to human life. But this time round, they’ve given him the kind, craggy face of 20th Century character actor Lance Henriksen. Bishop’s skills include operating vehicles, bleeding milk and playing five finger fillet upon request:

Did your favourite ‘droid make the cut? Who did we leave out? Let us know in the comments below!

To find out more about our Android App, go here!


Mar 06 2013

Brand New Hunger Games: Catching Fire Character Banners!

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 5:49 pm

What’s the difference between between Harry Potter and Twilight and the The Hunger Games?

Well for one, neither Potter nor Twilight had an Academy Award winner playing their lead character.

After a stellar 2012 that saw Jennifer Lawrence dominate every role that she turned her hand to, fans of The Hunger Games are now starved for more from Katniss Everdeen and her hunky suitors. And while they’ll have to wait another eight months until Hunger Games: Catching Fire hits the cinemas, they can make do with these gorgeous new character posters. Featuring five of the main characters rendered in the style of oil paintings, they’re sure to become a mainstay on the bedroom walls of Hungerphiles everywhere.

(Wait… Hungerphiles? Hungernauts? Hungeronians? What are hardcore Hunger Games fans calling themselves these days?)

Anyway, here are the images.


Mar 06 2013

Jon Stewart announces his feature directorial debut

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:28 am

American satirist Jon Stewart announced yesterday that he was to take a summer sabbatical from hosting Comedy Central’s The Daily Show in order to direct his debut feature.

The film is called Rosewater, based on a 2011 memoir by Iranian-born Newsweek journalist Maziar Bahari. The book details Bahari’s arrest during the 2009 Iranian election, after which he was detained for  118 days. Accused by the state of being a western spy, one piece of ‘evidence’ used against him was an appearance he had made on The Daily Show. So it would seem that Stewart has quite a lot invested in this story.

While it might seem like an unusual project for the host of a late night comedy programme, Stewart has always been one of the more eloquent commentators in the American media. His satire is always been backed by meticulous research and he possesses a very vocal contempt for all forms of hypocrisy when it comes to the media, US politics and international matters.

Stewart adapted the script himself and it will mark his first return to cinemas since he voiced Zeebad the evil talking spring in the American dub of the Magic Roundabout movie. Filling in as host of The Daily Show will be British comedian John Oliver, known to comedy devotees as co-host of The Bugle Podcast and to everyone else as sports agent ‘Dick Pants’ from The Love Guru.


Mar 05 2013

Trailer: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 3:29 pm

Animated comedy fans were met with a treat today as the first trailer to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 was released online. Featuring the returning voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris and James Caan, the sequel is a clever re-invention of the original film’s concept in which Hader’s character Flint Lockwood invented a machine that turned the weather all foody-like.

This time round, Flint discovers that his food-transmogrifying machine has turned an entire island into a tropical Lost World of fantastical food-based pun animals (or punimals, if you will).

The original Cloudy movie from 2009 was an unexpected treat with a sharp, funny script that delighted parents as much as –if not more than– the kids. One extra cool addition to the cast is the very funny Terry Crews, who will replace Mr T as the super-macho cop Earl Devereaux. There’s even a gag in the trailer that would feel right at home in one of Crews’ wacky Old Spice ads!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is expected in cinemas October 2013.


Mar 05 2013

TV Preview: Breaking Bad Season 5

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 2:27 pm

This is a preview of Breaking Bad’s Fifth Season (now available on blinkbox). It will CONTAIN SPOILERS for episodes up to the first episode of Season 5. If you’re not up to date, we strongly recommend that you do not read any further and perhaps check out this article that’s for newbies.

So. Where were we?

At the end of Season 4, our nominal hero Walter White (Emmy winner Bryan Cranston) has executed his darkest and daring plan yet. Certain that it was only a matter of time before drug Baron Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) would come after him, Walt poisoned the son of Jesse’s girlfriend and convinced his young protégée that it was his fault. He then lured the impeccably careful Fring to come out of hiding before killing him in a gruesome retirement home explosion.

This would be the perfect point for Walt to get out: Gus will be revealed as the genius behind the blue meth, his death will be blamed on the cartel and almost all of Jesse and Walt’s ties to the organisation have been taken care of. Surely this means that Walt is out of the game, right? Guess again.

In the world of Breaking Bad, the only thing more addictive than meth… is power. And now that Walt’s had a taste of it, he’s not going to give up quite so easily.

The Walter White of Season 5 is a far cry from the dying man who simply wanted to take care of his family. Over the past four seasons, we’ve seen Walt transform from a man driven to crime through desperation into a criminal who strikes pre-emptively; he’s a man more obsessed with his pride and reputation than his wife and children.  As creator Vince Gilligan has said many times before, Breaking Bad is about a man who transforms himself from Mr Chips into Scarface. And at this point in the story, Mr Chips is definitely a thing of the past.

With only sixteen more episodes left until the show draws to a close, you must be asking: how much further will Walt fall? Gilligan and his writers are pushing television narrative in an exciting direction. As viewers, we’re being asked how far we will go along with Walt before he become irredeemable. At this point in his story, can Walt even be considered a hero?

At some points in Season 4, it was easier to sympathise with the cut-throat Gus Fring than the high school chemistry teacher. At least Gus seem like a man of principles – sure, those principles occasionally involved killing disobedient henchmen, slaughtering cartel bosses and the wholesale distribution of Class-A narcotics but at least he was a professional about it. As Walter further alienates everyone around him, Jesse has come into focus as the show’s moral core – something he’s punished for time and again. There is no one in this show who has been dumped on more than poor Jesse.

Also returning for the fifth season are many fan-favourite characters including grumpy Mike the bad-ass cleaner; lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) who manages to be greasier than ever, even as he wilts under the shadow of Heisenberg; and if you thought you saw the last of Badger and Skinny Pete last season, you thought wrong!

Skylar haters will find much to love (or hate) about the direction her character goes in this season. Mrs White has always got the short end of the stick when it comes to fan hate – there are entire message boards devoted to fan fiction about her character dying in a meth explosion. Actress Anna Gunn always does great work but she’s in the unenviable position of being the voice of reason in the show, when all fans want to see is Walt doing unreasonable things. By default, this turns her into a shrew– or to give it another name, she has ‘Carmela Soprano Syndrome’.

Basically, if you’ve come this far with Breaking Bad, there’s almost no way you’re going to stop at this point but if you want some Season Five teasers to get you started, here it is:

  • The show goes international!
  • Marie buys more purple things!
  • Walter Jr. eats more breakfast!

If there’s one thing we implore you to do, it’s to make this batch of 8 episodes last. After you’re done with them, you’ll only have another 8 left until there are no more. And the day you watch your last episode of Breaking Bad will be a sad day indeed.

Seasons 1-5 of Breaking Bad are available now!


Mar 05 2013

Harrison Ford to stay classy with Anchorman 2

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:52 am

In the biggest piece of Harrison Ford casting news to come out his week, it has been announced that the legendary star will appear in the upcoming sequel to Anchorman. The Indiana Jones icon will join a cast that includes Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Christina Applegate and Kristin Wiig. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he will play a veteran newsman in the vein of Tom Brokaw — a name that probably means very little to anyone outside of the US.

Anyway, it’s a character type that he’s played recently in Morning Glory, a movie in which he seemingly confused playing a character who doesn’t give a crap with actually not giving a crap.

But with the Anchorman sequel, Ford will be going head-to-head with some of the funniest improvisors in the world. We suspect he’ll be bringing his A-game, or else face the embarrassment of being blown out of the water by San Diego’s Channel 4 New Team.

Anchorman 2 is expected in Cinemas late 2013


Mar 04 2013

Today in X-Men Casting News: Sy will also be an X-Man

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 11:17 am

As the director of a film that won’t be shooting for another two months, Bryan Singer has thrown himself 100% into casting more and more people in his latest X-Men sequel, Days of Future Past. It hasn’t been a month since he announced that many stars of the original X-Men trilogy would return, joining cast that already included James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult and Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence.

So now, with the addition of Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, Ellen Page and Halle Berry, you’d think that the headline cast would be pretty full, right?

Just for good measure, let’s also put one Peter Dinklage into the mix as the film’s main bad guy, a role which he’ll undoubtedly knock out of the park.

And NOW add in French actor Omar Sy, who will play an undetermined part in the film as well. Best known as the star of Untouchables, one of the best loved French films in the past few years. Playing the unlikely carer of a quadriplegic millionaire, Sy won the César Award for Best Actor and instantly transformed into one of the most exciting stars in his country. Incidentally, he is not related to the South Korean popstar Psy and will not do Gangnam Style upon request.

But before he gets stuck in with Wolverine and Professor X in next summer’s biggest blockbuster, we’ll have a chance to see Sy again Michel Gondry’s upcoming film Mood Indigo, also starring Audrey Tautou.

 

 


Mar 04 2013

Didn’t Ayatollah Argo would win the Oscar? New Releases 4th March 2013

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 8:44 am

Argo
Less than a week after it wins the Oscar for Best Picture, Ben Affleck’s true story thriller has come to blinkbox. Telling the gripping declassified story of a CIA mission to extract six diplomats from revolutionary Iran, the film sees Affleck’s character create a plan to disguise his charges as members of a Hollywood film crew. With a great supporting cast that includes John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin, Argo is a genuine pleasure to watch.

GambitVery much sold as the new comedy written by the Coen Brothers, this film is probably closer to their remake of The Ladykillers than No Country for Old Men. Colin Firth stars as a stuffy British art curator who conspires with wacky American Cameron Diaz to sell a fake Monet to his horrible boss (Alan Rickman). This comic caper is a remake of a hit from the 60s starring Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine in his first American role.

The SapphiresChris O’Dowd –who seems to be everywhere these days– stars in this new musical comedy about an indigenous Australian soul group in the 1960s. He plays their manager in a story that sees them brought together and moulded in to a Supremes-like soul group. Think of it as Dreamgirls meets Priscilla Queen of the Desert but with fewer drag queens. Great music, buckets of charm and a winning performance from O’Dowd: people more prone to hyperbole might describe this as ‘the feel-good film of the year’.

Here Comes the BoomLikable funny man Kevin James stars in this latest comedy from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. Like many of Sandler’s own films, it’s about a man who must find X-number-of-dollars within a specific time frame. This time, James plays a disillusioned teacher who has to raise $48,000 dollars in order to save his school’s struggling music program. Natural, he turns to the world of Mixed Martial Arts to raise the cash. For fans of MMA, there are plenty of cameos from UFC personalities like Joe Rogan while everyone else can enjoy Salma Hayek as Kevin James’ love interest.  So, yes: he plays an ass-kicking fighter who manages to bag one of the world’s most beautiful women — which suggests the screenplay was adapted from two of James’ most recurrent fantasies.

Sleep Tight Spanish horror has been going through a genuine renaissance over the past few years. This latest effort from the director of [REC] centres on an apartment building where the concierge takes it upon himself to make the residents’ lives a living hell. This sounds like a lark but when a beautiful female tenant proves harder to agitate than the others, the concierge’s creepy behaviour starts to take on new, terrifying dimensions.

Hansel and Gretel: Warriors of WitchcraftThis is not the upcoming movie starring Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton – instead, it’s first of two films being released this month to cash in on the Hansel-and-Gretelmania that’s apparently gripping the nation. This modern-day version sees Twilight’s Boo Boo Stewart and his real life sister Fivel arrive at a new high school only to face the kind of troubles that every teen has to deal with. Stuff like homework, bullying and the eternal struggle between humans and witches.  Eric Roberts also co-stars but judging by his low energy levels, we wouldn’t be surprised if he picked up his paycheck mid-take.

6 Degrees of HellWhen an unsuspecting couple unwittingly buy the hotel with plans to make it into a tourist attraction, they unleash an evil that has haunted residents of the town for years! Corey Feldman turns up half-way through the film to play a paranormal investigator but the only ghost he can find is the spectre of his own career. Zing!

 For more of the latest films on blinkbox, check out our complete New Releases

 

 


Mar 01 2013

Why Argo Deserved the Oscar

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 8:18 am

So, by now you may have heard that Ben Affleck’s film Argo won the Oscar for Best Picture this year, beating out competition from great films like Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi and Lincoln (which we weren’t huge fans of, if we’re being honest). But as always, there are questions that plague every Oscar winner. Primarily: did it actually deserve to win?

It’s no secret that every year, studios mount vicious, heavily-funded PR campaigns to ensure that their films have the best chance at achieving Oscar glory. Early front-runner Zero Dark Thirty found its awards hopes crippled early when certain media outlets criticised how Kathryn Bigelow portrayed the use of torture by the CIA. While it’s not suggested that the competing studios started the fire, it’s generally accepted that they would have fanned the flames. In a very similar vein, Lincoln and Argo were also accused of being part of some partisan political agenda on top of having their own factual inaccuracies. All of a sudden, it seems that films have a new-found responsibility to be completely factual as well entertaining.

But for whatever behind-the-scenes chicanery that went on during this year’s Oscar campaigns, there have been few cries of foul play when it comes to Argo winning Best Picture. In fact, Affleck’s film is exactly the kind of movie that should and often does win the big prize. It ticks all the boxes required of Oscar-worthy films while also being an excellent film on its own merits.

And here’s what we mean by that:

It’s based on an incredible true story

As mentioned in the credits, Argo sprung from an article published in Wired Magazine back in 2007. It revealed the recently declassified story of a group of six American diplomats trapped in Iran during the ’79 revolution. After months hiding out in various diplomatic homes, the pressure of being discovered had escalated to the point where the CIA made a decision to extract them in a covert operation.

In the film adaptation, Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, the real-life government operative who devised an unorthodox plan to smuggle the diplomats out of the country disguised as members of a Canadian film crew. With the backing of a famed make-up artist and a Hollywood producer (a composite character invented for the film), Mendez left no detail uncovered: he set up a production office in LA and even published press releases in the major trade magazines.

It is a story so outlandish that, were it not true, most people would easily dismiss it as the unbelievable figment of a Hollywood screenwriter’s imagination.

It’s a classic Hollywood caper

When adapting real stories for the big screen, film-makers often fall into the trap of re-enacting events with slavish detail without due concern for the kind of movie it will make. Of course the opposite is also true: the 1946 biopic Night and Day saw Cary Grant play composer Cole Porter as a War Hero and incorrigible ladies’ man when just about everybody in Hollywood knew that definitely wasn’t the case.

Affleck and his award-winning screenwriter Chris Terrio made a very smart decision to tell the story as a classic film caper. Like The Great Escape or Ocean’s Eleven, much of the pleasure of watching this film comes from seeing how their elaborate plan comes together. They were able to weave true details from Mendez’s story into the thrilling finale and tactfully use invented incidences to ratchet up the tension. As a director, Affleck possesses a skill for creating tension from moments as seemingly innocuous as walking through a market. As film writer Roger Ebert puts it: “It is so easy to manufacture a thriller from chases and gunfire, and so very hard to fine-tune it out of exquisite timing and a plot that’s so clear to us we wonder why it isn’t obvious to the Iranians.”

It has a killer supporting cast

The thing that most great movie capers have in common is a great cast of supporting characters. Just as The Great Escape couldn’t have been pulled off without the tunnel king (Charles Bronson), the scrounger (James Garner), the forger (Donald Pleasance) and Steve McQueen’s Cooler King, Argo wouldn’t be half the film without it’s team of top-drawer character actors.

As his CIA supervisor, Affleck roped in the services of Bryan Cranston. A small screen veteran, he made his name twice over in television, first for playing the goody dad in Malcolm in the Middle and then as Walter White, the dark-as-all-hell meth baron in Breaking Bad – a role for which he has won three Emmys. Since his success on that show, Cranston’s popped up in scores of films over the past few years (Drive, Total Recall, etc…) but this has unquestionably been his most prominent big-screen triumph.

Like Cranston, John Goodman came from a sitcom background to become one of America’s most versatile character actors. For his work in Coen Brothers movies alone, he has played more classic characters than any performer could ever dream of. For a man of his distinct size to have such a long and rich career, it requires a very specific talent – one that has not gone un-noticed by directors like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese.

Goodman also has the distinction of starring in an Oscar Best Picture for two years running after last year’s The Artist. Coincidentally, Guy Pearce starred in the two winners before that with his turns in The Hurt Locker and The King’s Speech.

For the part of a Hollywood big shot willing to produce a film that will never get made, Alan Arkin was an inspired choice. A performer whose work has been admired for almost five decades, he’s cinema’s perennial “that guy” playing supporting roles in classics as diverse as Catch-22 (as Yossarian), Edward Scissorhands, Glengarry Glen Ross and Little Miss Sunshine. In Argo, he eschews the loud and brash stereotype of film producers and plays his character Lester Siegel as a wry and quiet figure. It’s a smart, interesting acting choice from a seasoned professional.

And to round it off, you have Affleck himself as the film’s lead. As producer and director he could very easily have given himself some meatier scenes: perhaps one where he shouts and acts indignant like Jessica Chastain’s big scene in Zero Dark Thirty. When you see a big moment like that in a movie, it’s tough not to think ‘yeah — they’ll play that clip at the Oscars’. On the flip side of the coin: Affleck’s performance is professional and intentionally understated, allowing the story to flow without the need for big character moments. People have kind of ignored this fact but 10 years ago, the idea of Ben Affleck starring in an Oscar winning film was more of a preposterous idea than the thought of him directing one.

Ben Affleck is a great, unpretentious director

But perhaps the most exciting thing about Argo’s success comes in the ascension of Ben Affleck as a major director. But more importantly, he’s becoming a great director without the airs of an auteur. You don’t get the impression that he sees himself as a Scorsese or a David Lynch, whose films can often be identified by their visual trademarks. While they are, of course, two of the great artists working in cinema, not everyone can be an auteur.

Joe Wright is an example of director who never fully disappears behind the camera – his films all tend to feature at least one long tracking take, like the Dunkirk sequence in Atonement or Eric Bana’s underground fight in Hanna. Tom Hooper is another guy with a distinct visual style that he likes to imprint on his work, a habit that some say impeded Les Miserables at times.

While you might argue that Affleck’s features have all thus far been thrillers of a sort, he has been conscious not to add any unpretentious flourishes to suggest there’s a director at work. He and his collaborators seem to shoot his films in ways that compliment the type of story they’re trying to tell. I suspect that we’ll see Affleck develop further in the next few years. He’ll likely become a director akin to Sidney Lumet, Alan Parker or Rob Reiner (who pretty much had the greatest run of films between the mid-80s to the mid-90s). Affleck’s becoming the kind of director that the Academy likes to reward: one who always puts story before all else.

Argo is now available on blinkbox. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favour and check it out.