On Stranger Tides… Well At Least They Got The Strange Bit Right…

There has been a lot of bad press about the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, the general concensus being that brilliant actors putting in brilliant performances are being let down by a boring story with substantial issues.

Well at least they got the "Strange" bit right...

 All lengthy franchises cop their fair share of abuse (both justified and unjustified) by the time they hit the fourth instalment, but this is Pirates of the Caribbean and any movie that has pirates is almost definitely better than the picture being painted by all those pesky review sites. Pirates inspire great works of creativity, just have a look at the latest from The Lonely Island:

Well the pesky review sites were right, Pirates 4 showcases some of the strongest acting and some of the worst story telling in the franchise to date… in fact I will go as far as to say the story was a steaming pile of shit clearly trying to cash in on an established brand name. It’s a shame because the three previous films all had very tight storylines with all the loose ends wrapped up at the end of the third film. There was nothing that needed explaining, no reason to make a fourth movie, and yet here we are talking about it and with the amount of money being made at the box office I expect that we will be here again soon talking about a fifth movie.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the actors in this movie, it looked and felt like they were giving 100%. Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom and Jack Davenport are notable omissions, but they are hardly missed as newcomers Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz step up to the plate and deliver two very polished and likeable characters. Johnny Depp is once again fantastic portraying the iconic stylings of Captain Jack Sparrow and Geoffrey Rush fully embraces the role of Barbossa, looking like he was having a lot of fun. Keith Richards got another cameo with brief but memorable line – “Does this face look like its been to the fountain of youth?”.

The big issue for me was that the story was completely lacking in direction and cohesion, throwing in random subplots that go unresolved for the whole movie and add absolutely nothing to the main storyline. I spent the whole movie asking Nicole why… “Why do you think they did that?” “Why was the Captain Jack impersonator impersonating Captain Jack?” “Why did she grow legs if she couldn’t use them?” “Why is everything so dark and foggy?” “Why did they film this in 3D and have 95% of the movie shown in 2D?” It just seemed like the director was being lazy relying on the name, his actors,and that 3D gold mine to sell tickets rather than solid story writing and creative cinematography.

All in all this movie was a big let down, not the worst movie I have seen this year but pretty close. I went in to the movie expecting to be entertained, and to some degree I was entertained. But I also felt confused, bewildered, and bored, three feelings that I should not feel coming out of a movie. Given the success of this movie I think its safe to assume that a fifth will be made, and given my attachment to the franchise it is safe to say I will watch it. But I have been stung now, and if the fifth movie is anything less than brilliant I will not be seeing another.

That’s Uncle Ryan To You

At 1am on 18 May 2011, my sister completed her acquisition of a beautiful little eating, drinking and pooping machine and she decided to name it Cassidy May. I finally got to meet my little niece over the weekend and needless to say she had me hooked around her little finger almost instantly (not as bad as dad though…).

The doting uncle and his little niece

It’s hard living so far away so I thought I should write a story for little Cassidy, something to remind her of Auntie and Uncle all the way up in Newcastle, something that is good enough to be her first choice for bedtime stories for years to come.  Writing children’s stories is much harder than just writing, particularly when my best writing is violent fantasy. I’ve tried to go a bit more traditional here, each line will represent one page which means I’m probably going to have to find someone to help illustrate it once I have finished writing.

Any good artists out there want to help out?

Below is a taste of what I have written so far… if you have any suggestions please leave a comment below.

The Princess and the Gnome

Once upon a time in a castle far far away,

There lived a young princess named Cassidy May.

Princess Cassidy loved to play.

She loved to play in her bedroom,

She loved to play in the bathtub,

But most of all she loved to play in her garden.

***

Princess Cassidy went outside to play but something was wrong,

“I don’t think the garden likes me anymore” said Princess Cassidy.

The plants in her garden were losing their colour.

***

“Your Highness we are just so thirsty,” said Mr Gnome.

“We haven’t had anything to drink in days.”

This was no good at all thought Princess Cassidy.

***

Ok I think I have given you enough information to figure out where this story is going. Let me know what you think of the work in progress and if you have any hints, tips, thoughts etc. just leave a comment below.

You’re Big. Thor Bigger.

For those who are not big into comics, The Avengers is what happened when Stan Lee decided to create a team of all the greatest superheroes in the Marvel universe.  The Avengers have had many members since the first edition back in 1963 with notable members including fan favourites like Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-Man and The Hulk, and lesser known characters like Iron Man, Hawkeye and Thor.

Back in 2005, Marvel Studios had an idea, a 10 year plan with nine films that would revolutionise the comic book movie industry. They wanted to create a movie about The Avengers but to do this they needed  a clean slate, meaning reboots to established franchises (ie. The Hulk, Captain America and Spider-Man) and the creation of new franchises for the lesser known characters (ie Iron Man and Thor). These franchises now share the same history, there are cameo’s by different characters in each movie (like Samuel Mother-Fucking Jackson as Nick Fury), each movie has an after-credits scene that hints at what will be in the next movie,  and they are all contributing to the fast building anticipation for The Avengers movie.

Last night Nicole, Alaisdair and I went to see Thor, the latest piece in The Avengers puzzle. For those that dont know, the Marvel character Thor, all his brethren, and the frost giants are adapted directly from Norse mythology, with Marvel going to great lengths to explain the existence of Asgard via science (read more about Norse mythology here: http://www.norse-mythology.com/).  Thor (played by Aussie Chris Hemsworth)  is a hero, a stereotypical hero, the God of Thunder who wields the enchanted hammer Mjolnir. He is young, headstrong, cocky, and supremely confident in his own ability to fix everything through brute force. After re-igniting the war with the frost giants Thor is banished to Earth as a mortal, his powers stripped until he becomes worthy of them once more.

For the ladies… and Alaisdair.

As we have come to expect from Marvel Studios, the audio and soundtrack and visual effects were absolutely stunning.  Asgard looked amazing, and I loved the way they brought the Bifrost Bridge to life. Simply amazing. Their outfits were fantastic, the frost giants just looked scary, and the fight scenes were well choreographed.

There wasn’t a great deal to the story but then again this movie wasn’t really about the story. Natalie Portman plays the love interest, and she plays it very well, but in the end were not really all that interested in what’s happening on earth. We want to know what’s happening on Asgard and what is happening with those bloody frost giants. The main purpose of this film to provide the audience with an entertaining history lesson about Thor that will make The Avengers a better movie, and Marvel Studios certainly achieved this. There is a key word here that sums up my whole experience with this movie, and that is entertaining. This movie is so much fun from start to finish, the acting is great, the humour is funny, and as I have already said the visuals are amazing.

I didn’t like the 3D, it was barely noticeable and in the scenes were it was noticeable it was poorly implemented. There was probably 5 minutes worth of good 3D (the credits and the Bifrost transportation) 15 minutes of blurry headache inducing 3D (some of the full on action sequences tried very hard to make me queasy) and 100 minutes worth of me wearing stupid 3D glasses whilst watching a 2D movie. I think Jon Favreau said it best when he mentioned at Comic-Con that “Cowboys & Aliens has been filmed in glorious 2D”.  I’m over the whole 3D experience and unless James Cameron is onboard and doing it right like he did in Avatar, I don’t think I will bother with 3D films again if I have the choice.

In summary, Thor has really kicked off the American summer blockbuster season with a bang. Big heroes with cheesy one liners doing big action sequences, its got everything I love about a superhero movie and is going up to #2 on my list for Best Movies of 2011