400 And Counting: Week 12 (All My Friends)

January 16, 2015

This week I turned 25 years old. This meant a number of things for me, including, for the purposes of this blog, a Blu-ray player. Just what I needed: Another excuse not to use the SBS On Demand service, the one this blog was originally intended for. Oh well. So far I’ve only watched one Blu-ray (more on that later), but I’m keen to sink my teeth into my growing collection.

I really only had one goal that I wanted to achieve by the age of 25, and that was to direct a feature film. While I haven’t reached it, I’ve still achieved more than I thought I would. I’ve been involved in a huge variety of projects ranging from short films, to plays, to radio, to this blog, to docos, to a number of feature films and to three television shows. It’s funny where life can take you, even at a rather young age.

There are two projects I’m most proud of. One is a feature film called Ricky The Movie, a mockumentary about a washed-up 80s one-hit wonder. I learned more about filmmaking doing this than in three years of film school. I’m lucky to still work with the director and consider him a friend (shout outs to Liam Firmager). The other project is, of course New Game Plus, which at last count is at over 125 episodes, made by a group of talented and hard working individuals that I’m glad to be friends with.

So while I haven’t made a feature film, I’m pretty happy where I am at the moment and am looking forward to kicking off this year’s season of New Game Plus.

Taken 3 (2014)
Director: Olivier Megaton
1:49:00 (Completed)

Taken 3 is a bittersweet experience. I remember how good the first Taken film was and am reminded how far this series has fallen. I really hope they put the series and the character of Brian Mills to bed. It’s just not much fun anymore. This film tries to add in a bit more story to set up the action but it basically amounts to a very awkward twenty five minutes of terrible dialog, where the audience, the actors and the director are just waiting for the action to start.

I’ll just put it out there now: This film doesn’t have the pacing that made the original so incredible. The search to uncover the mystery of his ex-wife’s murder and get out of the frame out is less interesting than the kidnapping of his daughter. The threat seems less real.

Even more unrealistic is the action. Liam Neeson is over 60 years old, I can believe he’s a badass with a pistol, but parkour!? Come on! Much of the action seems over edited — cutting every half a second doesn’t make the action fun, it just makes my eyes water.

There were a few good scenes, most involving Neeson’s gang, and one scene with his daughter halfway through the film. Overall however, not much to get excited over.

The Imitation Game (2014)
Director: Morten Tyldum
1:54:00 (Completed)

This film is getting a lot of buzz, probably because it’s quite good.

It tells the tale of Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch), a mathematician who tries to crack the German enigma code. Cumberbatch puts in a performance far different to what I was expecting (basically, Sherlock). Instead we have a much less arrogant but no less brilliant man. Every so often Keira Knightley manages to not be the worst; this is one such occasion.

The story is gripping, with enough plot twists and intrigue to keep me hooked. Director Morten also directed a great film called Headhunters; that is also well worth your time.

Starship Troopers: Invasion (2012)
Director: Shinji Aramaki
1:29:00 (completed)

Starship Troopers is one of my all-time favourite films. Invasion is an animated sequel, the fourth in the series, and follows an aged Johnny Rico, Carmen Ibanez and Carl Jenkins as they battle the bugs, amongst other things. There are a number of new faces, some more interesting than others.

I like the universe, so I was interested to see a different take, and I enjoyed the film. None of the original cast came back for voicework which is a little disappointing, but the VO actors did a reasonable job. The animation looked pretty good, but there was one thing that bothered me…and maybe it comes from not watching that much anime. Nudity is part of the Starship Troopers movies, but animated nudity doesn’t interest me and I felt a little uncomfortable

Despite that, it still had plenty of cheesy one liners, some cool action and enough story to make it better than Starship Troopers 3: Marauder.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
2:09:00 (Completed)

I was lucky enough to see an advance screening of Kingsman on my birthday (the Australian release date is 5 February). It’s the second time we’ve seen Matthew Vaughan direct an adaptation of a Mark Millar comic book, the first being Kick-Ass.

We move away from superheroes and instead look into the world of the gentlemen spy. Colin Firth stars as Galahad, a spy who recruits young upstart Eggsy (Taron Egerton) in the ways of the spy and the gentlemen. It’s an action comedy, with lots of memorable moments that scream Mark Millar. Samuel L. Jackson plays the villain, and I don’t recall the script ever falling back on the old ‘Samuel L Jackson yells motherfucker a lot’ trope. The action was great, and unlike Taken 3, the parkour scenes were all done in one shoot. It makes them believable and fun.

While it’s early days, I could see this being one of the better nerd films of 2015.

Super 8 (2011)
Director: J.J. Abrams
1:42:00 (Completed)

This was not just the first Blu-ray I watched on my new player — it’s the first Blu-ray I’ve watched full stop. It looked pretty, that’s for sure, but like most things with film, it’s the story and the characters that get me interested and engaged. Super 8 is one of my favourite films of recent times, my favourite J.J. Abrams films and one of the few reasons I’m even remotely excited for the new Star Wars film.

Super 8 tells the tale of a group kids making a super-8 hero film when a train crashes in their small town. For the kids, the air force investigating the train crash means extra production value for the film; to the viewer, it adds extra layers of story. The young actors are great; Elle Fanning is a highlight, stealing every scene she’s in.

(A side note: I’m a big Mighty Ducks fan, despite how kiddy the films are on the rewatch. I’d love them to remake them with Joshua Jackson as Coach Bombay and Emilio Estevez as Hans, Bombay’s mentor and owner of the skate shop. The only young actor I’ve seen who I think would make a good Charlie is Elle Fanning and…back to Super 8).

This it’s a great mix of sci-fi and drama that makes me want to rewatch it, despite only seeing it four hours ago.

Five films is better than four, and with the Blu-ray player and my first purchases, I have an ever growing list of films to watch — get excited!

Liam bluray

This week it’s a hard one; The Imitation Game, Kingsman and Super 8 could all take the prize as film of the week, so put those on your to watch list, if you haven’t done it already.

Film of the week: Kingsman/Super 8
Movies watched this week: 5
Did Not Finish (DNF) this week: 0
Time spent this week: 9:03:00
Total movies watched: 62/400
Total DNF: 2
Total time: 116:47:32

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