Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oversized Phones

Back by popular demand (well, Jonster and Hockster), I am reinstating this blog. Yes, Ian's Useless Movie Reviews has a following now, people! Well, sort of...

'THE DA VINCI CODE' (the book)

This is an absolute phenomenon, and this fact quite frankly baffles me. The book has shifted some 70 million copies worldwide and been translated into 44 languages, which is staggering when you consider that it's not very good. I've read it... well three-quarters of it until I got bored and gave up, coming to the conclusion that unless the "secret" at the end was discovering Keith Harris and Orville playing Buckeroo with Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, it really wasn't worth it.

It's nothing more than a trashy airport novel with an 8 year olds prose. Now, that's all fine and good, and goes a long way to explaining its popularity. Not every book has to be a literary piece of genius, and if they were I probably wouldn't read any. Nothing wrong with some trash now and again, as the majority of people tend to gravitate towards the most mediocre of entertainment (how else do you explain Heartbeat or Dido?), and I don't have a problem with that.

But I'm still quite amazed at how a novel (one that takes itself very seriously, by the way) with half-baked ideas about religion could become such a massive cornerstone of the zeitgeist so quickly. So I thought at least the film version might be slightly more cohesive, having to fit such a large story (most of it fat to be discarded anyway) into a meager 2 hours, or at the very least, a little more fun. After all, it's directed by Ron Howard, who's a dab hand at tense, intriguing and well-paced thrillers ('Apollo 13', 'Ransom')...

'THE DA VINCI CODE' (the film)

Oh Ron, look at the mess you've made! Go and stand in the corner and think about what you've done!... Ron? Are you thinking about it?.... No! You're thinking about your monstrous paycheck, aren't you?

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with this debacle. Being given the opportunity and responsibility of bringing one of the biggest cultural hits of the last decade to the big screen, and a massive payday, means that somewhere along the way Ron Howard forgot he was actually supposed to be directing a film here. Bland and messy, wasting a top-notch cast (and I'm NOT including Tom Hanks, he gets discounted due to a case of stupid hair), and never quite sure what it wants to be telling the audience (which is the single biggest crime a film with so much exposition in it can commit), it's a complete shambles.

And let's not forget that the screenplay was adapted by Akiva Goldsman. Quite what the studio was thinking with that move is beyond me. Those of you who know who I mean are no doubt now rolling your eyes and going "Oh for frak's sake!". For those of you who are uninitiated, hopefully this little interpretation of a board room meeting will fill in the blanks:

EXEC 1: Say, who shall we get to write this Jesus thing? How about Frank Darabont, after all those Shawshank and Green Mile movies were pretty good?

EXEC 2: Nahhh. What about Jim Uhls, he did a good job adapting Fight Club?

EXEC 1: I got it! (into intercom) Debbie, get me the guy who wrote Batman & Robin and Lost In Space!

EXEC 2: Bingo!

Words fail me at this choice. As they clearly did Mr Goldsman. I suppose the only thing to be thankful for is that at least they didn't let Dan Brown adapt his own novel. As excruciating as the script's dialogue and storytelling is, I'll concede that it's better to have a 40 year old adapting an 8 year olds prose than an 8 year old adapting an 8 year olds prose.

To invoke Movie Review Cliche #7, the one saving grace in this whole mess is Ian McKellen, who in his brief appearances gives the film a badly-needed breath of life, injecting humour and colour into an otherwise lost affair. He's like the single sequin on a beige suit. And when that sequin falls off... well, you really miss it! And the film looks gorgeous, there's no denying that. The cinematography is stunning at times, but all that really does is remind you of what an absolute wheeze Howard, Hanks and co must have had travelling around Europe for six months. And that this is what they have to show for it. Bastards! I will give the score a mention though, as Hans Zimmer has outdone himself with a beautiful, evocative and moody piece of music. So just go and buy the CD instead.

The fact is, even though the book is a badly written piece of trash, at least it serves its purpose. It's what I've decided to call Airport Noir, a piece of fluff that fills the time. And as I said, even though I still can't comprehend it's following, there's nothing wrong with that. It does the job. And that's what the film should've done, been a flat-out trashy, sometimes silly, dare I say fun Hollywood thriller. God knows Hollywood pumps enough stupid thrillers out at us every year, and some of those are big hits, mainly because it takes you out of your life for a couple of hours and entertains you. That's the keyword, surely - entertain.

But this still-birth treats itself like the second coming, as if the suits in charge wanted to slap a label on it saying 'This, ladies and gentlemen, is THE MOST IMPORTANT film you will ever watch!'. And they probably would have, had the marketing people not actually seen the film and said "hang on a minute". For a story with such an admittedly ludicrous, but potentially very hot-potato of an idea (a living descendent of Jesus Christ may walk unknowingly among us and is being protected/hunted by unseen forces), this could have been the ultimate high-concept movie. We should have been given The Daddy! Instead we got the boring uncle.

Boo, Jesus! Must do better.

1.8 Crabs out of 5

Monday, October 30, 2006

I Dream Of You

by Alphiano

'Twas a night like no other, on all Hallows Eve
I've just served a drunk man who's called Special Brew Steve
As we're springy in step and giddy in thought
We put on our clothes of the fancy dress sort.

With a thrill in the night, and a chill in the air
I choke back the stench of Jon gelling his hair
Although Jonny by day, he's a Vampire by night
With a frilly cravat, gives the children a fright.

With none of my beard, not even a whisker
The chilly night air feels that tiny bit brisker
And my long flowing coat of the dandiest cord
Transformation complete, I've become a Timelord.

Into the pub now, it's time to get booze
Two hours till closing - there's no time to lose
Amid a sea of creatures, monsters and ghouls
Neck as much beer as possible, them is the rules.

The Grim Reaper sits, fallen angel by his side
And Indy puffs away, clutching his whip with pride
The clown of revenge, that's right - Eric Draven
Sips on a beer as a vamp bites a maiden.

While Morticia and Jason both sing up a storm
Vampire Hockster's on jolly good form
The Pumpkin Witch is all orange and scary
But mess with her hat and she starts to get lairy.

Soon the lashings of booze seep into our veins
But there's no stopping now, no one pulls in the reins
Knocking them back, nowhere I'd rather be
Except when nature informs of a vom or a wee.

So bring all your friends, dressed up monstrous and mad
When you're twisted and wrong there's good times to be had
Halloween at the pub is a marvelous sight
So a good night to all... and to all a good night.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sassy Robots

Too much time on my hands, so yes, many a film has been watched. It was actually a hard choice as to which film would be the lucky bugger this time, but ultimately I picked the one I want everyone to watch... Yes, ladies and gents, it's another installment of Ian's Useless Movie Reviews!!!! This time...


I'm gonna keep this one fairly short, as that going in-depth on story-points and acting/directing choices are a bit pointless on a film like this. But, if it matters, the story is brilliantly simple, the acting spot-on, and the direction is first-rate. But enough with that serious stuff, I can't be bothered. So instead I'm going to list 5 reasons why you simply MUST watch this film! Here goes...

1). Human Slug! A complete prick in a small town gets infected by an alien something and turns into a slimy, goopy slug thingy, and goes around eating local dogs and cows.

2). Betty Brant & Pam! Yes, the lovely Betty from the Spider-man films and Jenna Fischer. the cute-as-a-button Pam from The Office are in this. They are both hot. That is all.

3). Captain Tightpants Is Back! Not forgetting the ladies, a certain Mr Nathan Fillion is the lead here, throwing more cool one-liners at the camera than should be legal. And just generally swaggering in his he-should-be-the-new-Indiana-Jones cool way. Did I mention he's cool?

4). Tiny Worms! A shitlload of them to boot. After a disgusting/hilarious sequence the town is infested with millions of tiny alien worms. Think Arachnophobia, but loads more creepy. You'll never take a bath again.

5a). Zombies! Tons of the bastards, all ripping people/dogs/sheep to shreds with a single cry of "meat".

5b). The Funniest Horror Finale Of All Time! I can't really say what it is, but trust me, it's ace.

What are you still doing reading this?! Why aren't you watching it yet?! If you actually have blood in your veins those 5 (ish) reasons should have sent you loopy by now. If you long for the days of gloopy, drippy, slimy horror films from the 80's, such as Carpenter and Craven used to make, then watch this now...

10 Crabs out of 5.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Out Of A Coma

Well, what a kerfuffle it's been in the news this week, with one story in particular getting everyone worked up. I've been thinking about it as well, and it has led me to a life-altering choice.

I've decided to adopt a celebrity millionaire from abroad. Now, I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not simply "shopping for people" just because I'm not famous, have no money or fame pulling-power of any kind. All I'm trying to do is give one of these fortunate people a life outside their hell-hole of popularity, beauty and excess. These people deserve our pity, living such meaningful lives with every chance of a bright and happy future, and anything I can do to prevent such a fate for any of them is nothing more than my civic duty. As long as I get a pretty one.

By engaging in this selfish act I can offer these... well, I suppose the media would call them 'stars', but I don't believe in labels (they're people for god's sake, so try and get past your prejudices) a secure life of being bored, spending too much time down the pub and getting obsessed with the telly. Do you really think these people have any idea what a life like that could really be like? Why shouldn't they be afforded the same blessings as the rest of us? Why should they continue to live in fear of people liking them, having more money than they know what to do with, or the constant dread of knowing any minute a movie script or multi-million dollar contract could come flying through the letterbox?

My god, it's no wonder they act the way they do, kissing each other just because of the colour of their phones, when this is all they have to look forward to! If it was me I know I'd probably almost be content by now, and that's something I hope I never have to live through. And so, the responsibility falls to me, being underprivileged as I am, to reach out my dirty hand and say "Come, famous one, there is a shit world out there, let me show it to you. Oh, and change the channel and get me a beer". Sometimes I think I give too much.

Of course, this would be a mutually beneficial arrangement. In return for all the wondrous crap I've already mentioned, and the opportunity to give them a life that's a bit rubbish, there are many things that I, spiritually, would gain. For example, just the knowledge that I'd never have to pay for anything ever again. Or work. Or even get out of bed. As hard as this would be, that is the trade-off you must face when adopting a celebrity millionaire from abroad. Also, if I were to choose one from America then everyday my life would be that much more worthwhile with the feeling of superiority I would get. And there's things we'd face together, like expensive parties that other people aren't allowed into, or being on the cover of magazines because we'd braved a supermarket to buy some teabags. Just thinking about it makes me feel like someone turned my heart up an extra bar.

So there it is, my plan to help those more fortunate. It won't be easy to choose who the lucky celebrity will be, as I will have to evaluate each case individually (I've heard the ones from California come with a free tiny dog). But I will keep you informed, and rest assured it will be a senseless and uninformed decision. As long as I get a pretty one.