Arrow Review
Oct 2012 18

The recent success of the Marvel comic movies has made Hollywood and the Networks desperate to sign the next hot comic book property. I would never have thought the ‘Green Arrow’ get his own TV series but here it is!

They have cast a relatively unknown Stephen Amell playing Oliver Queen our hero the Green Arrow. The story starts with Oliver on an island called Purgatory which we find he has been stranded on for five years. He looks like Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’ with a Green Hood for the first few minutes. During these minutes we get a glimpse of his Parkour abilities as he race to alert a near by Fishing boat as to his presence.

Once back in civilisation the story becomes a reasonably predictable revenge story with the Arrow taking on those that have taken advantage of his home town. There is more too it than that but I don’t want to spoil the plot. They have cleverly not given everything away about what happened to Oliver on the island but use flashbacks to give us glimpses of the event that changes his life forever.

Some of the dialogue is a bit cheesy one line in particular whispered by Oliver to his kid sister Thea played by Willa Holland on his return is a shocker: ‘You were with me the whole time’. VoiceOver is used by the producers to explain what is going on in the Arrows mind. This for me is not hugely effective as Stephen Amell is a little wooden, not on the scale of Keanu Reeves but close. He is your classic blue-eyed blonde haired boy, and luckily for him there was clearly a Fitness First gym on Purgatory as he is ripped.

It all feels very familiar, not always a bad thing as sometimes you want to sit comfortably on the sofa and turn your brain off and watch stupidly good-looking people tell you a story. It draws on its comic book heritage and pulls from the likes of Batman and Superman for inspiration in developing the leads darker brooding character.
It reminds me a lot of Smallville, the possible love interest is called Laurel Lance and is an investigative lawyer sounds familiar doesn’t it. This is not surprising as it is produced for the CW the American channel which was responsible for Smallville.

I don’t want to give away the plot but rest assured they have built-in a way to keep this story running for as long as they need it to.

Arrow is a ripping yarn which won’t tax the brain. I enjoyed the first episode and I want to find out more about the mysterious island of purgatory and what happened to him there.

Arrow is on Sky One HD 22nd October at 9pm.



‘Two Kinds of People’ Movie Cliché
Oct 2012 17

Movie clichés. Everyone’s got their favourite. Maybe it’s when someone says “I’m too old for this shit”, or possibly it’s the fact that any character who mentions how close to retirement they are, or says that they’ll “be right back” will die before the end of the film. Sometimes, the clichés can be visual: in an action film, if there’s an explosion, there is an odds-on chance that the character who causes said explosion will walk away from it in slow motion. Usually wearing sunglasses. One of the most beloved clichés of film fans is the ‘Wilhelm Scream‘ a sound effect you can hear in films too numerous to name. Clichés aren’t always fondly remembered though; the ‘black character dies first’ trope has become  a pop culture meme, and is an example of the less obvious and sometimes unintentional racism still present in society.

One of my favourite screenwriting clichés is the ‘two kinds of people’ line. A character will, in an attempt to sound worldly and wise, confidently state that there are only ‘two kinds of people in this world’, before putting forth a binary theorem that could never encapsulate all of humanity. Maybe the very self-evident absurdity of this statement is what makes it work? Who knows. All I know is that an obscene amount of movies use it. See the below video by the talented James Chapman for yourself to get an idea of its overuse, and let us know what you think in the comments.


Captain America Sequel Announced… But Who IS The Winter Soldier?
Oct 2012 16

It’s no surprise that, in the aftermath of the gargantuan box office business that The Avengers (Assemble) achieved, Marvel authorised the development of a spree of sequels to the origin movies of its protagonists. Coming to an overpriced multiplex near you within the next few years will be Thor 2: The Dark World, Iron Man 3, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

THIS (apparently) is the Winter Soldier

When Iron Man came out, waaaaay back in 2008, it successfully launched one of the lesser-known Marvel superheroes, paving the way, eventually, for The Avengers (via Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger). Although Thor was less well received, it still had its share of admirers, following on from that, Captain America got more of a lukewarm reception. Although I enjoyed itIndiana Jones-lite period stylings and found Chris Evans to be a likeable lead, there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement, provided they can give depth to a potentially one-note character. Captain America was never a comic I read as a kid, so my knowledge of his mythology is fairly limited (I imagine I’m not the only one). All this meant that when the sequel to Captain America was announced, like most people, I just shrugged and carried on with my life.

It’s pretty subtle, but I’m getting the feeling that they don’t like each other

But then IGN posted a short video describing the story of the titular Winter Soldier for comic neophytes like me, and I started to get more excited aout the film. With the new Thor film having an ominous title, Shane Black‘s involvement with Iron Man 3, and now this potentially interesting follow up to come out, I’m genuinely interested in how Marvel is going to achieve all this. A comic book studio effectively exploring their mythology in mainstream cinema is unheard of, and even if some will regard it as an abomination, I find it quite interesting. The link to the IGN video is below, check it out and leave us a comment.


The Trailer for the (Second) Hitchcock Biopic is Here!
Oct 2012 15

Alfred Hitchcock, that iconic film giant encased in the plump, unassuming body of an English boy from Leytonstone has already made his mark on the silver screen. Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, and many others have left indelible marks on the cinematic consciousness and inspired generations of filmmakers.

Such is his status in the film world, and with the notoriously strong link between his personal life and his professional output in mind, it’s perhaps surprising that it’s taken this long for a biopic to be made of the man. This is all about to change, with Anthony Hopkins’ star turn in Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock due to come out in February. As if that weren’t enough, this isn’t the only Hitch biopic coming to screens, oh no. With HBO’s TV movie, The Girl coming out in October, films about Hitchcock appear to be like the proverbial London Buses.

Where they differ, though, is in the fact that The Girl is adapted from Tippy Hedren’s account of making The Birds (and is probably fairly scathing as a result-they didn’t get on), whereas Hitchcock details the making of Psycho, and its success.

Not a bad likeness… even if he does look a bit weird

Both trailers have whetted my appetites for each piece, and I approve of the route of taking an episode from his life, rather than trying to tell the entire story. A mistake that has resulted in many an overlong, undercooked biopic. The trailer for Hitchcock is below, compare it to this trailer for The Girl and feel free to tell us (and the world) what you think in the comments section.


A ghost story is for life, not just for Christmas….
Oct 2012 13

Okay I’ll admit it. When it comes to being spooked I’m a little old fashioned. With the onset of Autumn, I dust off a number of old books that sit my shelves throughout spring and summer and, whenever I have 5 mins to myself, will read ghost stories. Short or long, it doesn’t matter. Even better if it’s by an open fire.

There’s something about M R James, the classic ghost story writer, probably the most famous, that just conjures dread in his numerous short stories. They range from unhinged to terrifying and anything in between. As a Christmas treat in the late 1960s and 70s, the BBC produced adaptations of these tales (under the loose series title of Ghost Stories for Christmas) based in the works of MR James, broadcasting to terrified viewers each Christmas Eve. Auntie then briefly revived the tradition between 2005 and 2010. Imagine my delight at seeing that the BFI has decided to release all 12 dramas in a boxset, due for release later this month (nicely timed for Halloween).

These adaptations, which have a subtlety and style all of their own, have been a major influence on many contemporary British horror film makers and have garnered a reputation as being some of the most sought after British TV titles of all time by their legions of eager fans. They are:

Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968); The Stalls of Barchester (1971); A Warning to the Curious (1972); Lost Hearts (1973);The Treasure of Abbot Thomas (1974); The Ash Tree (1975); The Signalman (1976); Stigma (1977); The Ice House (1978); A View from a Hill (2005); Number 13 (2006); and Whistle and I’ll Come to You (2010)

I’d like to draw your attention to 3 of these productions, which stand out over all the others:

1) Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968), the original and best adaptation, starring Sir Michael Horden and Directed by Jonathon Miller is a masterpiece of the spooky kind. With sparse dialogue, and some breathtaking black and white photography on the shores of East Anglia, all anchored by a wonderfully bumbling and eccentric turn by Horden, this is hands down one of the most disturbing things I’ve seen. In truth, not a lot happens, but the atmosphere of dread is so well lifted from the original story that it permeates the whole production, until the numbing last few minutes. I guarantee you that, after the numerous shots of the lead character walking on lonely beaches in winter, you’ll begin to feel his very sense of not being alone. There is something just odd about what is following him….

2) A Warning to the Curious (1972), starring Peter Vaughan is a more conventionally recounted and scripted story. Loosely following an amateur archaeologist who rather foolishly removes an ancient crown from a Saxon burial ground, that local legend says is protected by a vengeful spirit, this production has two of the most terrifying and heart-stopping moments I have seen in film. I couldn’t shake its mournful effect for days.

3) The Signalman (1976), starring Denholm Elliot is as haunting a 60 mins as you will ever see. Low key, slow moving, wonderfully acted and with an unparalled atmosphere of desperate melancholy. This story was adapted from an original short by Charles Dickens and builds to a devastating climax.

The remaining productions range in quality, but are all unique in atmosphere. Check out the bizarre and downright weird Lost Hearts (1973), and the fantastic A View from a Hill (2005) as other highlights.

The original version of O Whistle and I’ll Come to You (it was remade in 2010 with John Hurt) remains my absolute favourite. For an idea of its unsettling atmosphere, click on the following link, and watch from 0:58 to 3:13:

O Whistle and I’ll Come to You

It’s fantastic that finally, all of these are being made available, and I would urge film fans of any genre, to get a hold of the boxset as quickly as possible (Official release date is Monday 29th October). This is a masterclass in old fashioned scares.

Eli Roth and Alexandre Aja eat your hearts out.





Taken 2 Review
Oct 2012 10

Taken was something of a surprise hit, way back in 2008. Liam Neeson, that bona fide, middle-aged, thesp, an action hero? It had to be seen to be believed. Telling the story of a father using his own particular set of skills learned as a CIA operative killing half of Paris to find his kidnapped daughter, rocketed Liam
Neeson into the mainstream consciousness as an unlikely action hero.

Although it had an ending with plenty of closure, the box office return on the relatively small
budget virtually guaranteed a return to the world of Bryan Mills and his
unique, but brutally effective, brand of finding people.

Now how do you top Taken? Well, without wanting to spoil it (it is in
the trailer), you kidnap the father and mother instead! This leaves Maggie Grace as Bryan Mills’ daughter in the unenviable situation of having to help save them.

Cue phone calls to his daughter who manages to evade capture on the mean and exotic streets of Istanbul, Turkey. He later deposits his daughter at the US Embassy for safe keeping (after giving her a lesson in high-speed evasion in a taxi, natch).

This is probably a movie best suited to home viewing. I’d probably watch it on DVD as I did with the first film. It is a popcorn movie – disposable but fun fodder from
which drinking games can (and will) be created. I can see it now: drink a finger of
alcohol when you hear Liam Neeson say ‘Listen to me very carefully…’, do a shot when he snaps someone’s neck, down an entire bottle of vodka when he encounters a situation where his mysteriously thorough and all-encompassing CIA training can’t help him (spoiler: that’s never, then).

Neck snapping: Bryan Mills, up to his old tricks

The film is peppered with some unintentionally hilarious moments, despite the po-faced nature of the story. Mostly to do with Liam’s delivery of his lines and how they immediately transmit to the audience that something bad is going to

Liam Neeson carries on as he did before – the overprotective father who
just wants to make sure his family is safe. Famke Janssen has a relatively
thankless role as the kidnapped ex-wife, bound, gagged, and dragged
all over the place. Maggie Grace steps up from the kidnapped daughter

Kim to rescuer. The villains though, are largely ineffective. Merely there to present
Bryan with some vague form of resistance when walking from one door to another.

Liam Neeson has gone on record as saying that there really is no way to do a third Taken movie.
Contrary to this, there are reports that one is being plotted, possible sans Neeson. The first Taken was a lightning in a bottle situation, this struggles to repeat the trick and benefits hugely from the first. Can they do it for a third time? It remains to be seen…


A Good Day to Die Hard Trailer!
Oct 2012 04
This is the first teaser trailer from the new Die Hard Movie ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’.  My first impressions are good.
They seem to have taken into account how old Bruce Willis is these days and created a son ( Jai Courtney) to carry some of the action load.  From IMDB I gather the plot is the father and son duo are taking on the Russian Mob, which explains the European setting of the trailer.  I thought the shots of the token ‘hot Chick’ getting off her motorbike were a bit ‘Michael Bayesque’ but luckily were fleeting and you were back to the action.  John Moore is directing the 5th film in the series and has some big boots to fill, I’m not filled with confidence by his last few films, May Payne, The Omen, Flight of the Phoenix and Behind Enemy Lines.  I suppose those films were solid and he clearly has an understanding of action but I can’t help thinking the overriding factor for picking him was his price.
As much as I would like to see Hollywood creating some new action hero’s I will always happily pay to see another Die Hard film.
The Honest Avengers Trailer and A Unique Trailer for The Comedian
Oct 2012 03

I love a good trailer. I love the way that a well-executed but still mysterious trailer can ramp up your excitement for a movie in sub 2 minutes. I love that feeling of unexpectedly seeing the first footage of a film you’re looking forward to, and I love the voice of that trailer guy, because it reminds me of good times in the cinema.

Recently, the trend for movie trailers seems to be to show you the entire plot of the film, and to ruin all of the money shots by showing them out of context. But even with that sizeable disadvantage, I still love them. Below, you’ll find a couple of embeds relating to trailers, that should be interesting. The first one is an ‘Honest Trailer’ produced by Screen Junkies that tells the ‘truth’ about The Avengers Assemble. It’s great fun and pokes holes in the film in such a good way, that even an avowed fan of the film such as I can enjoy it. Warning: spoilers abound from the get-go, so only watch if you have seen The Avengers Assemble.

The second video is the trailer for Jerry Seinfeld’s 2002 documentary Comedian, featuring Hal Douglas (the trailer guy) in a manner that sends up the formulaic trailer any regular cinema visitor will know and love. It’s an interesting film, showing the other side of comedy. But, it has to be said, the trailer is probably better than the film.


Stoker: The New Film From Park Chan-wook
Oct 2012 02

Never heard of Park Chan-wook? He’s only the South Korean director of OldboyI’m a CyborgJoint Security Area, and Thirst. South Korea has, in the last decade, produced some fine cinematic talents. As I mentioned in this article, South Korean directors are now making films in America, to show the ignorant masses in the West just what they’re missing.

Park Chan-wook: so bloody talented

Oldboy is more or less Park’s signature film. It’s the middle film in his Vengeance trilogy, and the best known. It’s hard to imagine another director who could weave such a complex narrative, operatic, but extreme and graphic acts of violence, and bravura filmmaking techniques into an emotionally-resonant and rich tapestry of a film. And I didn’t even mention the incest. Oldboy is one of those films that you have to see at least once, if you want to call yourself a film buff.

Thirst, released after the Twilight films took their own, angsty, vampire vibe into the mainstream, is about as distinctive a vampire film as you’ll ever see, featuring some strong performances and a genuinely unusual and surprising narrative. I’m a Cyborg is distinctive and surprisingly sweet, depicting a girl who believes herself to be a cyborg, leading to her committal to an insane asylum. Each entry in his varied filmography displays an unusual mix of unusual themes melded together by an engaging story, and it looks like the forthcoming Stoker will be no different.

After the death of her father, India (Mia Wasikowska)’s mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman)’s already frail sanity is further tested by the arrival of her mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who comes to stay with them. It has been described as a psycho-sexual thriller owing much to the work of Brian De Palma, and, before him, Alfred Hitchcock. Nicole Kidman, despite her mainstream reputation, has an eye for a talented director, having worked with Alejandro Amenabar on The Others, and John Cameron Mitchell on the criminally-underseen Rabbit Hole, and the up-and-coming Mia Wasikowska should prove an able co-star. Matthew Goode, an actor who doesn’t get the body of work his talent deserves is perfect for the sinister but charming uncle Charlie, and with Park-Chan-wook orchestrating the onscreen entertainment, it definitely won’t be boring.

Stoker comes out in March 2013.


Newsflash: Hollywood’s Not So Great When it Comes to Originality
Oct 2012 01

Back in January, the excellent website Short of the Week published an infographic on original ideas in Hollywood. I only recently caught up with it myself, and thought it was only right to share it with the readers of RBT.

The lack of new ideas in Hollywood is often bemoaned by film fans, and ridiculed by people not to enamoured with the film industry, and this graphic seems to indicate a trend going only one way. Of course sequels, adaptations and reboots don’t necessarily always make bad films, it’s just a depressing fact that unique voices with original, different ideas are being drowned out in the din of sequels and remakes. Enjoy the infographic, it doesn’t necessarily make for positive reading:



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