Nov 22 2013

Review: Computer Chess

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:20 am

Over a decade before engineers at IBM would pit Deep Blue against world Champion Garry Kasparov, the battle between man and machine on the chess board was waged by guys like the ones in the film.

Set in the early 80s, this deceptively shoddy film takes place over one weekend, where programmers from all over America congregate in a small hotel to hold the annual computer chess championships. The event, while full of pomp and officious red tape, is small enough that it’s forced to share the ballroom with a couples counseling seminar that takes place there in the morning.

Patrick is one of these guys. A junior programmer at Caltech, he is so seemingly nervous that we barely register anything behind his coke bottle glasses. He senses that there’s something wrong with the computer chess programme created by his respected professor but he can’t quite put his finger on it.

On the other end of the spectrum you have Michael Papageorge, an ‘independent programmer’ in a three-piece suit. Self-assured to the point of brusqueness, he’s quickly revealed to be a shambolic mess of a man, knocking on the doors of his fellow competitors late at night after failing to book a hotel room of his own.

The film, directed by Andrew Bujalski, looks and feels like it’s shot with early camcorder technology. While this has the potential of playing like a gimmick, there is a sense of authenticity: you genuinely feels like a relic of the period. It plays like one of Christopher Guest’s mock-docs, but with incredibly low-key performances. The only thing that suggests this didn’t happen for real is the movie’s abstract third act.

By that point, things go slightly delirious and the film starts disappearing into itself: with some of the characters start manifesting themselves as chess pieces or being likened to faulty computer programming. Between a pair of hicks who believe that these chess computers are heralding the end and a developer’s wild theory that computers will eventually be used for dating, there’s a strange fear of technology that’s palpable in amongst all the quaint 8-bit machines.

What starts off as a simple faux-documentary ends up as something unexpectedly poignant. You don’t need to know anything about computers, chess or computer chess to see this film, so do make a point of checking it out if you can.

Computer Chess is opens today on blinkbox and at select cinemas. Watch it now!

Nov 21 2013

Video: Norwich Xmas lights ‘hijacked’ by Alan Partridge for blinkbox film release

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 6:30 pm

The people of Norwich were left open-mouthed by a surprising finale to their official Christmas lights switch on – a giant singing illumination of Alan Partridge that was so big it could be seen from space.

As thousands of residents and visitors gathered outside the City Hall to watch BT Sport anchor and local-boy-done-good Jake Humphrey turn on the Christmas lights, the atmosphere was electric. But it wasn’t until Humphrey flicked the switch that the crowd realised the buzz was coming from a small corner of the square containing a hidden tower of power devoted to the North Norfolk Digital DJ.


In a gesture to match the now epic proportions of Partridge’s ego, a 30 foot dedication to the Norwich born radio presenter boomed into life, with a singing sculpture of his face providing a perfectly lip-synched rendition of ’Cuddly Toy’, the 80s anthem by Roachford that features in the title sequence to this year’s hit comedy Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. The stunt was organised by blinkbox ahead of the release of the movie on 2 December.

Supported by 15 tonnes of scaffolding and powered by 8 tonnes of lighting and sound equipment, the vast illuminated show built up to a dramatic finale, shooting powerful lasers from Alan’s eyes and projecting ‘80ft giant dancing Alans’ across the town centre and into the skies above.

Alan Partridge Norwich Laser Show blinkbox

Alan provided a statement to accompany his daring stunt, which was read out by his friend Michael (actor Simon Greenall):

“Dear people of Norwich, and to a lesser extent anyone here from Suffolk – welcome! I’m genuinely heartbroken not to be there with you, but it’s quiz night at the Rose & Crown and I’m the designated driver. You’re about to witness the biggest turning on of lights since the end of the 3-day week. The electricity used to power the illuminations is enough to run a trouser press for over 25 years. Instead, it’s powering an LED effigy of my face and body, lighting up the Christmas night just as the Archangel Gabriel did over two thousand years ago. I hope you have a wonderful festive season. A-HA!”


Follow the fallout on Twitter with the hashtag #blinkboxpartridge

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa is available on blinkbox from Monday 2 December.

In the meantime, catch up on all of Alan Partridge (and more!) with our Steve Coogan Collection

Nov 21 2013

Despicable Me 2: Minion-mania Takes Over the Internet!

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 3:57 pm

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that we simply can’t get enough of Despicable Me: and more specifically, Gru’s army of tiny yellow minions.

Inspired by the sheer passion of their fan-base, Illumination Entertainment, the company behind the hit films, have set-up a portion of their website to host user-submitted content: from Instagram pics and YouTube clips to lovingly crafted works of art, it’s all pretty amazing.

But if you don’t have hours to waste trawling through loads of minion pencil-sketches, let us guide you through some of our favourite fan-generated treats:

Firstly, there’s the crossover fan art…

Sailor Minion
Notya-Chan Deviant Art

Paging Dr Freud! Amirite?

The ultimate battle between two fat guys with tiny, tiny legs.

What a (queasy) feeling

Star Trek VI: The Undespicable Country


Cute animal costumes: an internet fave

Cynthia Warner Pinterest


You want instructional videos? They got them!

Make costumes on the cheap!

Give yourself a minion manicure!

Hungry? Check out these Miniom-nom-noms



An amazing can-struction!

Whoever Michaela is… good luck to her!

Eric Gentry via scontent

Domo Arigato, Bento Box!

Are there vids of adorable children freaking out? You bet!


… and then there are things that cannot be explained

This is Gru as a woman: presumably Diana Rigg from Game of Thrones
Pocket Size

(all content via

Despicable Me 2 is now available to buy at blinkbox


Nov 21 2013

Win: One of Ten Groovy ‘Despicable Me 2′ Merchandise Packs

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 11:21 am

To mark the release of Despicable Me 2 at blinkbox, we’re shifting some quality merchandise in our weekly competition. Thanks to our friends over at Universal Pictures, we’re giving away 10 sets of DM2 swag that may (or may not) include:

  • An Evil Minion Beach Towel
  • A Minion T-Shirt
  • A Minion Plush Toy (which Minion? That is also a mystery!)

To be in with a shot of winning one of these great prize packs, just answer this incredibly easy question:

This competition closes at 23:59 on Monday 25 November 2013

Despicable Me 2 is now available to buy at blinkbox

Nov 21 2013

Six Things We Know About ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 11:17 am

You know what they say about Wolverine movies? You wait for years and two of them come at the same time. Well, that’s sort of what’s happening.

Just as we see the release of Hugh Jackman’s latest film, The Wolverine, we see that he’s going to be back again in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past!

Judging by all the pictures and casting news, it’s already shaping up to be the biggest X-Men movie by quite a long way, with a star-studded cast that makes even The Avengers look like a low budget indie.

Here’s what we know about it so far:

1. It’s based on a 1980 comic book arc of the same name from The Uncanny X-Men.
Written and drawn by the British team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne, the original story is set partially in a future where all Mutants have either been killed or sent to internment camps patrolled by giant robots.

But whereas in the comic, Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page’s character from the film) was sent back in time to warn the X-Men of this apocalyptic future. From what we’ve gleamed, it’s Wolverine who will be making like Marty McFly.

2. It will star the cast of 2010′s X-Men: First Classthat’s Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Nicholas Hoult as Beast, James McAvoy as Professor X and Michael Fassbender as Magneto. In fact, the Master of Magnetism will be sporting quite a familiar colour:

3. It will also see the return of the original cast… including Halle Berry as Storm and Anna Paquin as Rogue. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan also reprise their roles as the older Professor X and Magneto:

But wait… wasn’t Xavier disintegrated at the end of X-Men: The Last Stand?

4. It also marks the return of the original director. This is Bryan Singer’s first film in the franchise since 2003′s X-Men 2: a movie considered by many (including us) to be the best of the bunch.


5. There will be a number of new characters from the Marvel back-catalog including:


A fan favourite, Bishop is a freedom fighter from the future who’s power is his ability to ‘store and re-direct energy’. He’ll be played by Omar Sy, who impressed audiences last year with his performance in the French feel-good comic-drama The Intouchables.

Not exactly one of the Marvel universes biggest names, Blink has become a favourite at cosplay conventions in recent years. Her power is the ability to teleport herself and the things around her. She’ll be played by popular Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.

A Native-American mutant with superhuman strength, speed and recovery, Warpath will be played by Booboo Stewart, whose highest profile gig thus far was as one of the Wolf-people in Twilight.

Bolivar Trask
Seeing the rise of mutants as a threat to humanity, military contractor Bolivar Trask created the Sentinals: giant robots programmed to hunt down the likes of Rogue and Iceman. He’s played by Peter Dinklage from Game of Thrones.

6. Speaking of Trask, his company Trask Industries looks to join Cyberdyne Systems and Omni Consumer Products as one of America’s most insidious fictional companies. Check out their website.

 But you don’t need us to tell you how exciting this film is going to be! Just check the trailer out for yourself:

It won’t be long now. X-Men: Days of Future Past opens 22 May 2014

Buy and Rent The Wolverine at blinkbox now

Nov 21 2013

Trailer: Kermit has an evil doppelganger in ‘Muppets Most Wanted’

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:26 am

After breathing life back into Kermit and his cohorts with their 2011 film The Muppets, director James Bobin and co-writer Nicholas Stoller are returning with a sequel that promises to deliver more gags,more celebrity cameos and more songs from Flight of the Conchords‘ Bret McKenzie!

Joining Kermit and Miss Piggy this time are Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and Modern Family‘s Ty Burrell in what looks like a European-set caper in which the Muppets get caught up with a no-good bunch of thieves.

Which leads us to ask: how is this film different from The Great Muppet Caper?

Muppets Most Wanted opens 28 March 2014

Nov 21 2013

‘Gravity’ Short Film: The other side of Sandra Bullock’s distress call

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:02 am

This might be a bit of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen Gravity, but not really.

During a key scene the acclaimed space survival film, Sandra Bullock’s character reaches a new low. Cut off from mission control and alone in a Russian space pod, she hears a voice on the radio speaking in a language she cannot understand.

Titled Aningaaq, this short film by Gravity co-writer Jonas Cuarón pulls back the curtain on the mysterious man with the howling dogs and the infant child. We have to admit, it’s a very moving piece.

Aningaaq is eligible for Best Short film at the upcoming Oscars, which presents a unique opportunity for a film and its spin-off to be nominated in the same year.

(via THR)

Gravity is in cinemas now

Nov 21 2013

Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 9:39 am

The stars have really aligned for The Hunger Games as a film series: in the time since they shot the first film, Jennifer Lawrence has picked up an Oscar and seen herself become one of the world’s biggest film stars. Liam Hemsworth has also become a leading man in his own right. But most importantly, they’ve followed up the (enormously successful) first film with a sequel that improves on the formula in almost every way.

Following on from the events of the first chapter, we find Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) still recovering from her big win at the Hunger Games. Back in her coal-mining hometown in District 12, she and her family have been moved into a ‘Victor’s Village’ that’s exclusively inhabited by Woody Harrelson and her fellow survivor Peeta (a name one imagines is best pronounced by Lois from Family Guy).

As an A-list celebrity power-couple, Peeta and Katniss are sent on a tour around all the districts, where they are expected to deliver speeches supporting their oppressive central government. What they see, however, is the inklings of a revolution that has taken Katniss as their talisman. Unhappy with this development, slimy president Donald Sutherland concocts a plan to quash this uprising: a special edition of the games that will pit former champions against each other.

New characters, of course means new character actors and the producers have gone to town with their cast: Jeffrey Wright (who’s currently killing it in Boardwalk Empire) and Amanda Plummer are middle-aged former champions from the Nerd District while Philip Seymour Hoffman takes the prize for ker-raziest name as Plutarch Heavensbee, the new ‘gamesmaker’.

It seems at first that Hoffman’s simply phoning in his performance. His drawling speech pattern marks him out from just about every other character in the Capital but its enigmatic, out-of-place quality plays out very nicely as the story unfolds. Stanley Tucci is back as talk show host Caesar (complete with Dale Winton perma-tan and chiclet teeth) and it’s great to see a veteran actor make a meal out of such an eccentric character.

Many critics and fans are obviously making the connection between the Hunger Games movies and the Twilight Saga. After all, they’re both fantasy stories with a romantic edge aimed at teenage audience. But if you were to make a comparison between the two then The Hunger Games would be killing it right now. The cast is stronger, the writing is better. Katniss is kept in the dark a lot for a lot of this movie but she is evidently smart, resourceful and a deeply human lead. And a lot of this is down to Lawrence’s performance.

When we talk about the need for more strong female characters in films, we’re not talking about women who are literally strong: we’re looking for characters who characters with agency, which is precisely what Katniss is. She gets by on her wits and principles.

We’re not saying this is Citizen Kane or anything; but as blockbuster sequels go, Catching Fire isn’t messing around.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is in cinemas now

Nov 20 2013

‘Hey, it’s David Beckham!’: 11 Movie Cameos from Famous Athletes

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:08 am

Mike Tyson isn’t the only sports figure who’s allowed to turn up in movies! To celebrate the fact that Iron Mike doesn’t make an appearance in The Hangover Part III,  we present 11 more memorable cameos from famous acting athletes!

1. Anna Kournikova in Me, Myself and Irene

The former World #8 tennis player /pin-up briefly appears in this bawdy Jim Carrey comedy. She plays a motel manager and girlfriend to ‘Scooter’ (pictured above). Super random? Yes.

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane!

Aboard an ill-fated flight from Los Angeles to Chicago, the lives of over 100 passengers lie in the hands of one indecent Captain and legendary LA Lakers Center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar– uh, I mean… co-pilot Roger Murdock.

3. Lewis Hamilton in Cars 2


There are a litany of voice cameos from motorsport figures peppered throughout the Cars movies, including our very own World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who even sports a gap in what we assume is his grille.

4. John McEnroe in Mr Deeds

What would you do if you inherited a broadcasting empire from your long-lost uncle and became an overnight billionaire? Well, if you’re anything like Adam Sandler’s Mr Deeds, you could string along Winona Ryder for a wild night on the town with Johnnie Mac, “the original bad boy of tennis”.

5. Dan Marino in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

On the hunt for the missing mascot of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins , Ace uncovers an insidious plot that involves a transgendered criminal, Super Bowl XVII, and the kidnap of Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino. Laces out!

6. David Beckham in Goal!

The first entry in a disappointing trilogy, this FIFA-endorsed sports film tells the story of Santiago, a young man scouted during a kick-about with his mates who’s soon elevated to playing striker for Newcastle. After his very first premiership goal, Santi just happens to bump into someone famous at the bar:


Contrary to popular belief, ol’ Golden Balls doesn’t appear at the end of Bend it Like Beckham. It was actually a lookalike!

7. Derek Jeter in The Other Guys

During a support group for New York cops, police detective Mark Wahlberg is forced to relive the moment he shot Yankees slugger Derek Jeter during the deciding game of the World Series. (Warning: language)

8. Eric Cantona in Looking for Eric

Poet. Philosopher. Legendary goal-scorer. Eric Cantona can now also add ‘actor’ to that list of acclaim after his performance as ‘Cantona’ in Ken Loach’s working class dramatic comedy, in which he (or a figment of him) mentors a depressed postie out of a serious emotional rut.

9. Sugar Ray Leonard in The Fighter


In David O Russell’s sports biography, boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) is being trained up by his older half-brother Dickie Eklund (Christian Bale), a burnt-out pugilist whose greatest achievement was to knock down Sugar Ray Leonard on live TV. But when Dickie bumps into the champ at a press event, Sugar Ray barely remembers or recognises him in his crack-ravaged state.

10. Lance Armstrong in Dodgeball

Remember when Lance Armstrong turned up at the end of Dodgeball and inspires Vince Vaughn? The champ reminds him that people can return from setbacks (like cancer) and still achieve amazing things (like winning the Tour de France four times in a row).

Lance, however, neglects to mention how it helps to win if you remain on a strict diet of PEDs and blood transfusions. And how it’s entirely alright for you to destroy the livelihood of y0ur friends with a smokescreen of lies designed to hide your own transgressions. Why didn’t you tell him that, Lance? WHY?

11. Lawrence Taylor in The Waterboy

Few people in this country will recognise Taylor as one of the greatest linebackers in the history of American Football. They might, however, remember him from this scene in The Waterboy in which he invites football savant Bobby Boucher to talk to some kids.

The Hangover Part III is now available to buy at blinkbox!

Nov 19 2013

Watch: German trailer for ‘Tarzan: Kaiser of the Apes’ (title not confirmed)

Tag: blinkboxblinkbox @ 10:15 am

An all-new computer animated retelling of Edgar Rice Burrough’s most famous tale, this German-produced version of Tarzan has just dropped a trailer in its home country.

Transporting the story to modern day, this new Tarzan has presumably been raised by Gorillas in the deepest jungles of the Rhine Valley, only to be discovered in his maturity as the heir to multinational corporation Greystoke Energies, GmbH.

While the English-language version will feature the voice of Twilight‘s Kellan Lutz in the lead, there’s no harm in checking out the German trailer:

We didn’t understand a single word of that, but that didn’t stop us from be intrigued by the trailer’s blockbuster aesthetic. And unlike the most recent Disney film of Tarzan, this will probably not feature any songs by Phil Collins which -let’s be honest- were nicht sehr gut.

The englisch sprachversion of ‘Tarzan’ swings into UK cinemas from 2 May 2014