Review: Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Hi kiddie-winks,

As you’re all no doubt aware Halloween is just around the corner, barreling down on us like some sort of annual happening and I’ve had the big telly all to my self for a couple of days. I’ve used this time constructively by re-watching the first five Nightmare on Elm Street movies.

The thing about being a fan of a certain type of horror movie which was popular during the 70’s and 80’s is sometimes I have to be slightly apologetic, something along the lines of “Yes I know the script, acting, directing etc are awful but…” One of the exceptions to this rule I believe is Nightmare on Elm Street, part 3: The Dream Warriors, now if you’ve got a minute or two take a seat and I’m going to tell you why.

By way of pre-text, when it comes to Nightmare sequels it’s this “Pretend Part 2 never existed (Like Indie 4, or Star Wars 1 through 3).” It’s a pretty poor movie which ignores a lot of the lore created by the first movie. A discorporated Freddy Krueger possesses teenager Jesse Walsh to kill for him in the waking world rather than doing the killing himself in the dream world. Critics hated it, Wes Craven hated it, fans of the first film were kind of ambivalent, no one seems to like it but it still made a healthy return on it’s budget.

Dream Warriors sees Kristin Parker troubled by dreams of Freddy Krueger, following a dream-world chase through the now derelict house on Elm Street where Freddy was originally defeated by Nancy Thompson in the original movie Freddy catches Kristin and slashes her wrists with his claws. These wounds are mistaken by Kristin’s mother for self-harm and has Kristin committed to Westin Hills Psychiatric Hospital where she is placed on a ward with several other teenage patients all suffering from sleep disorders caused by a certain man in a hat. As luck would have it Westin Hills has recently recruited a young psychology who specialises in dreams and sleep disorders, Freddy’s original nemesis Nancy Thompson, she reveals to the patients that they are “The last of the Elm Street kids” and does what she can to assist them in over-coming their dreams and once again defeating Krueger.

Wes Craven returned to take on writing duties of Nightmare on Elm Street 3 after being unhappy with the first sequel. After his original idea of having part 3 act as a meta-film where Krueger invaded the real world was rejected by New Line (Later made as New Nightmare.) Craven’s intention was that this film would be a conclusion to the Nightmare series and end the Franchise (Which he had never wanted in the first place), indeed it brings together and then ties up many of the loose ends from the original movie.

Along with the return of Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon returned as Nancy and Donald Thompson, they are joined by an impressive cast which includes Oscar nominee Laurence Fishburne and Emmy-winner Patricia Arquette in her cinematic debut. Robert Englund returns for the second time as series-antagonist Freddy Krueger riding the fine line between menace and dark comedy with evident relish.

Dream Warriors is the first of the Nightmare sequels to move away from the more traditional stalk and slash scares it’s genre in favor of the effect driven set-pieces of the later films although here it is used with some level of restraint unlike abominable scenes from later entries in the series such as “Super Freddy” or “You forgot the Power Glove”. there are some great practical effects on show some memorable death scenes including Freddy emerging from a Television to claim a victim and another victim being used as a living marionette strung up by his ligaments.

Easily dismissed through association with the later Nightmare sequels Dream warriors is my favourite entry in the series and probably my favourite horror movie. It does everything right, in my opinion setting the gold standard for both the Nightmare franchise and the horror movie genre itself. It is well written, thanks to the return of We Craven and later revisions by Frank Darabont with both memorable one liners and good dialogue. The characters are (for an eighties slasher-movie) well developed and believable. The practical and make-up effects are great and with the exception of some of the stop-motion work have aged well. The acting on show is well above par for a movie of this kind with good performances from Arquette and Langenkamp as well as possibly a career best performance from Robert Englund as begins to take Freddy further down the comedic path while still retaining an element of threat.

Unfortunately as the Nightmare series continued the set-pieces became more elaborate but also more slap-stick turning the character of Freddy Krueger into something more akin to an imitation or satire of the original portrayal before Englund’s final appearance as the character to date in Freddy V’s Jason returned some of the menace for one last hurrah.

While I’m the first to admit many films in the horror genre that I like and enjoy tend to be justified with the precursor “I know it’s bad but…” This is not the case with Dream Warriors I believe it is a genuinely good fantasy-horror movie which is since been repeatedly hamstrung by the diminishing quality of it’s own sequals.

By way of a post-script to get the most out of the Nightmare franchise consider watching 1, 3 and Freddy v’s Jason. three as I’ve already mentioned is pretty much a direct sequal to the original and FvJ contains many plot devices which recur from Dream Warriors including the return Westin Hills Psychiatric hospital and the use of dream suppressant Hypnocil, originally advocated in Part 3 by Nancy. Viewing of New Nightmare remains optional, It once again reunites Wes Craven, Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund and John Saxon I like it, many don’t.

The Future of Cinema… Monochrome?

Last night the Stupor collective teamed up to watch the excellent but bleak and harrowing “The Mist”. A very well made, gritty film that could be loosely categorised as horror with a pinch of Sci-Fi. Adapted from Stephen King’s short story by director Frank Darabont, this quality movie seems to have gone rather unnoticed by most, even it’s target audience and not least by two thirds of that evenings audience (Gazz and myself).

The only reason it came to my attention, I now recall, was because it was mentioned in a podcast I listened to over my Christmas break of the BBC’s flagship film review show (the Wittertaining Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review Show in fact). They interviewed one of the stars, one Toby Jones (ironically, the guy who’s name I couldn’t remember during the showing). “The Mist” was a remarked on by Mr Jones and the interviewing Mark Kermode as a top draw, having an ending the director had to fight the studio tooth & nail to keep and being originally planned to be released in in black-and-white.

It would appear these three things stuck with me as I spontaneously quizzed this parish’s Mr Holmes on the movie this Monday and mentioned the other two facts during our discussion. He confirmed the veracity of the comments on both quality and ending, and took to investigating the black-and-white point further.

On arriving at my house with his DVD in hand (yes, of course I had to watch it as soon as possible) he confirmed that, from his research, the movie was “even better” in black-and-white, with the effects looking “nicer and less plasticy” too. With this in mind we sat down to watch the movie but, as Neil DVD didn’t have the “Special Edition” black and white edition on it, we unanimously decided to turn the saturation down to zero. Simultaneously turning the 47” HD panel into a monochrome set and allowing us to watch the movie the way the director intended.

Argh!! The Black &White Tentacle Got The Sherminator!!

125 minutes later and we’d witnessed a revelation. Not only was I sat there completely aghast at the beyond-brutal ending but seeing this film in shades of grey really added something. As reported, the special FX looked darn good (in a kind of fun but horrifying way) and, most surprisingly, the picture quality looked comparable with a decent BluRay transfer. The best bit, however, was how the whole thing felt. It was absolutely wonderful. If anything it seemed almost more real and only on a couple of occasions did I even realise we were watching in black and white. We were all very impressed, so much so that we agreed with Gazz when he voiced the opinion that we should watch future horror films with the colour removed too.

So, there you have it, revelation shared!! Go watch things in black-and-white, people. Just give it a go and see what you think…

Sure it won’t work for everything but anything that’s intimately filmed and has a good story won’t suffer and, if anything, may be improved by a manual decolourisation.

As an aside, it also served as quite a good counterpoint to the current 2D (twoD) verses 3D (threeD) debate too. At no point did I wish it was in threeD and, yes, there were quite enough frames per second for me too. This completely confirmed what I guess we already know; attach all the bells and whistles you want, you can’t beat having a good, well written story and, if you don’t have that, then the rest is just meaningless, superfluous fluff.

A Cinematic Quest of Rediscovery

I used to be very “into” going to the movies. So much so, in fact, that I can remember one occasion when my now wife and I went to the local picture house (a horrible chain multiplex, but it’s nearby) and, after looking through all the listings of movies to be shown later that evening, we couldn’t find a single film we hadn’t seen. These were the good times. The features were much the same as they are today; some good, some bad, most pass the time well enough and will be forgotten in six months.

The differences from today’s experience of the cinema are the price, which has almost doubled, and the audience, which has massively declined in manner and increased in the number of light-emitting personal devices on constant show… Oh yeah, and they never turn the bloody lights off anymore. This is not the distant past I speak of but a mere decade!! Anywho, these factors combine have served to put me “right off of” going to the movies anymore.

The glasses I use to view my old cinema-going days

Partially in an attempt to resurrect my love for the movies, a few months ago I tried the new fangled IMAX screen that had opened up at the slightly less local horrible chain multiplex. This, however, turned out to be something of a disaster. Besides sitting through 2 hours of Ridley Scott doing to Alien what George Lucas so successfully managed to do to Star Wars ten years earlier (FYI; That’s not a good thing), I found the whole experience even more off-putting. The screen is massive, but not in a cinematic ratio, the sound is massive, but so loud it physically hurts and the price tag, you guessed it, is MASSIVE. £13 per ticket! Are you bonkers? I will certainly not be returning to one of those screens any time soon.

In between times I’ve visited the cinema now and then but have come away largely disappointed. I did happen upon the excellent “Sightseers”, a real “must see” for anyone with a dark sense of humour but, in the main, movies such as Captain America, The Avengers and, most recently, Skyfall have been seen but were all very blah.

That brings us pretty much up to date and to the reason for this piece. Tomorrow, my lovely wife and I will be attempting to simultaneously reignite our love for the movies and make best use of a (n Orange) Wednesday we both have off by going to the cinema to watch three movies in a day. It’s something neither of us has done before but it seems like something we should have. We won’t be helped by the fact that one of our planned features is the almost-three-hour The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey but it is so rare to find three films you actually want to see that we’ve thrown it right in there. The others are: Life of Pi 3D, I’m not really into threed but this is supposed to be very well made and my wife loved the book, and Safety Not Guaranteed, which I stumbled upon last week and is an indie film about three reporters investigating a guy who’s put out a small advert in their paper asking for a volunteer to go back in time with him.

We’ve worked out our schedule, allowing for trailers, and we should be able to work it to see The Hobbit at 10:45 first then run straight into Safety Not Guaranteed after which we have just over an hour break for dinner and finish off with Life of Pi 3D until about 19:55. That is, of course, if all goes to plan and we don’t get Deep Vein Thrombosis for our efforts.

I ought to get off now, as tomorrow has turned into later today, but I wanted to share with you all the peculiar adventure the Wifflecopter (TM) and I will be going on.

Wish us luck and see you on the other side…

UPDATE:
Well looks like we’re back on the cinema horse now, we had a really good time watching three very good & completely different movies with well behaved audiences. Couldn’t have asked for more.

We had to reorganise immediately on arrival, as the 10:45 showing of The Hobbit was sold out (we found out later this was probably because the 2D showings were in very small screens!) but the reschedule worked out best for us, giving us 50 mins between each film instead of the first two following through immediately.

I think three films in a day is definitely our limit but, that said, enjoyed every second spent reacquainting ourselves with our love of the pictures.

A Business Guide To Planning Space Missions

Prometheus

Spoiler warnings for Prometheus!

So I saw Prometheus twice last week, and as a film it’s fine but bits of it really rankled me. Some things just dont make sense, especially since the whole Prometheus mission is supposed to be a scientific one. I think Cory Doctorow (yes, I’ve a huge hard on for Doctorow, get over it) got it right when he said:

science fiction films are visually consistent, not logically consistent (the opposite of science fiction novels, which is why I’m a pain in the ass to take to sf movies)

(It’s totes worth reading the review of Prometheus Mr. Doctorow is referring to as well.)

What I didn’t realise though, is that everything entirely makes sense IF you understand the internal workings of the Weyland corporation. I’ve managed to get hold of this Weyland email which illustrates exactly why all that dumb stuff that happens in the movie actually makes perfect sense…


From: [Corporate Services] corporate@weyland.com
To: [Scientific Division Managment {SCIMAN-LIST}] sciman-list@weyland.com
Subject: URGENT: Updated Guidelines for Mission Planning
Date: 08/03/2088 10:37:15

It has come to our attention that some staff are failing to correctly implement company-wide Best Practice procedures when planning new interplanetary scientific projects. Please take 5 minutes to familiarise yourself with the following updated considerations from the new Scientific Interplanetary Investigative Venture Management Guidelines [rev: 3]:

  • When assessing the viability of an interplanetary scientific mission, it’s perfectly fine to accept ‘because we think so’ as
    justification
  • Unmanned preliminary missions are for losers; rubes are cheap
  • Quarantine is optional, flamethrowers are cheaper and much quicker
  • Always hire a captain that is indifferent to the mission. The longer he’s working the more expensive it is!
  • Don’t let the crew meet before locking them up together for several years, things may be boring for them otherwise
  • When picking a scientific team, make sure their UTPTWTF (urge to poke things with their fingers) rating is very high, they’ll never get anything done otherwise!
  • The buddy system is pointless, NEVER use it. The same goes for headcounts
  • Make sure women make up less than 25% of the crew
  • Encourage your employees to remove their helmets at every opportunity. Recharging those oxygen tanks is expensive
  • Always have plenty of quality classic black & white movies for your android. Abbot and Costello come highly reccomended
  • If you must leave staff in a creepy alien building overnight, make sure you do not record or monitor them, they need their privacy too!
  • If providing a high quality, expensive medical suite; make sure it only works for men. Always keep it stocked with plenty of staples
  • Do NOT tell your prospective crew anything about the mission before they head off. If partners of your crew need to know where they’re going for several years, a shrug or dunno is standard practice
  • If you are sending a high-level manager on the mission, make sure they have no interpersonal skills and no management oversight; also make sure they cannot run sideways. This is a choice position for that board member you never got on with
  • Don’t bother providing any prohylactics for the crew, they’ll probably crash or get eaten anyway so why worry?
  • Make sure your android is as creepy as possible, and make sure to install the english accent pack
  • The ship’s lifeboat need only travel 50 meters without crashing, any further is considered a bonus

We feel these procedures will produce many more profitable avenues for WEYLAND to explore. For further information I suggest thoroughly reviewing the Strategic Management Update Guidelines – General Information [rev: 7] (SMUG-GI7) umbrella documentation.
Thank you for your time.

Darren Linehold MBA MUSSBC
Head of Business Continuity
Corporate Services Division

WEYLAND Industries
x62970

MAXed out

I went, I saw and I’m here to report back on my IMAX outing.

I’ll start off with an aside but something that may prove of interest to those of you who may wish to follow my tracks to a Cineworld IMAX screen near you. After a little research it became apparent it’s possible to use Orange Wednesday 241 codes for IMAX showings. I must admit I doubted this slightly, but thankfully it worked! We still had to pay two lots of the supplementary fee (in our case £4.50) but only one original ticket price. So this took the admission down from an eye-watering £13.10 to an almost acceptable £8.80.

So, once we’d paid our reduced rate we took our place near the front of the queue to enter the 580 seater venue. We’d deliberately arrived over an hour early as this was the first Wednesday “Prometheus” was out and it was only showing once each day in IMAX. The first surprise came when the 3D glasses were handed out, peculiarly this was done in the queue. On receiving the specs, they felt much more solid and were significantly chunkier than the usual ones, that tend to put me in mind of the free sunglasses McDonald’s gave out in the 1980s. Still impressed by this, we were then ushered into the auditorium and I was immediately struck by the size of the screen. Words can’t describe how huge it is, standing at the bottom then looking up to the top you almost fall over backwards it’s so massive. Now, positively buzzing with excitement, I bounded up to the front row in the top level and held the very centre seats against all comers, so we’d have the best view in the house (only fair if we’re reviewing the thing, right?). After a short wait, the lights went down and show began… well the trailers at any rate but the feature followed soon enough.

There I am and there's most of the screen... (photo courtesy of Sanch)

During the trailers we were initially in 2D and the picture was very impressive, the extreme resolution on the concave screen draws you in beautifully, combine this with the unobstructed view from the stadium style seating and you feel a bit like you’re in your front room but you’ve managed to afford that 70” LED screen and are now sat about 3 feet away from it. The surprising disappointment for me was the sound, it’s just so relentlessly loud, especially in the trailers (where I assume it’s deliberately amped up anyway) the audio was so over the top at points it seemed as if the speakers were giving up and the dialogue became quite tinny. I’d go as far as to say it actually hurt at times, which can’t be a plus in anyone’s book.

We then moved to the 3D trailers and these were horrid, particularly the Spiderman reboot effort. While the players were still, everything was alright, but any kind of fast movement (i.e. Spidey swinging action) it all dissolved into a blur. This was most off-putting but I sat in hope that it may abate when we moved to the feature presentation and I wasn’t disappointed, the image was very clean and the 3D was of a good quality.

Now to my big gripe with the picture, my general opinion is that the extra dimension adds nothing to a film and the best you can possibly say about a 3D movie is that you forget you’re watching it in 3D. My issue is you can never say this about “An IMAX 3D Experience” as whenever you tilt your head slightly, reclining back into your seat or sideways against a loved one, you loose the effect and get a partially blurred image. The reason comes back to the different glasses you’re given on your way into the screening, they’re different for a reason… IMAX 3D works differently to the 3D you’d see in a regular screen, known as RealD 3D. The polarisation that allows the glasses to filter the overlayed images for each eye is linear instead of circular, this basically means that, if your head is not level the polarisation fails and you see the unfiltered image. The tolerance on this is very low and completely unlike RealD 3D, which allows the viewers head to move freely while maintaining the 3D effect. This destroys any sense of immersion because, as you relax into the film you move slightly off level and see the image smudge, pulling you back out of story never mind the effect.

In conclusion, I think I’d have to say IMAX is an OK but ultimately disappointing experience that I wouldn’t recommend or go out of my way to repeat. If you can go to see a 2D feature and get cheaper tickets, then it may be worth a look for a decent action based film. Otherwise I’d save some money, and your hearing, by visiting a modern digital projection screen for your regular movie viewing.

P.S. As for Prometheus, it was alright but made little sense. It was well filmed with good characters and was enough fun to justify watching, but it had nothing to hold the attention of a real Sci-Fi fan, with most of the plot falling over at the mere hint of a closer inspection. Catch it on a mate’s BluRay in six months… 7 out of 12.

‘t i’n’t in’t’ Tintin

Having just returned from watching the new CGI, motion capture, animated movie “The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn”, I must say I had a rather fun, if slightly unfulfilling, time. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s certainly a film worth seeing, however it left me feeling a little like the characters on screen, pretty good on the surface but hollow on the inside.

French Live-Action Tintin
At a glance you'd think these were real people, but they're actually French.

As a child I was a fan of the Tintin cartoons and I enjoyed the occasional Hergé comic too, it was the adventure of it all that I loved. Ever since I’d heard of it’s inception I’d been looking forward to this movie. The knowledge that Spielberg and Jackson were on board only served to heighten my anticipation that this could be a classic. The trailers helped too but also made me a little fearful as, it must be said, the characters do look a bit odd. They’re right on the line between real and stylised, sinking to the deepest depths of the Uncanny Valley and freaking the willies out of you at a glance. As a disclaimer I’ll just say; This does fade during the action but every now and then your brain realises and does a little “Urgh!!” in your head to remind you.

I’d also like to state, for the record, that we were forced to watch the movie in 3D*. None of our party wanted to see the movie in any more than the usual two dimensions but the final 2D showing anywhere in driving distance was at 18:30 and that’s just a touch too early for us working folks.

So, with mixed feelings but high hopes (and 3D premium paid), I made my way in and settled down, wearing two pairs of glasses on my face.

The movie starts quickly, with a nice in joke and some incidental crime. We’re then immediately introduced to the plot’s MacGuffin, the titular “Unicorn”, and, seconds later and unmistakably, the villain of the piece. This is a good start and the breathless pace continues throughout the whole movie. Clues are presented, people appear, that piece of the puzzle is put together, action happens and it’s all done extremely slickly, with great style and flare. Some of the “one shot**” action sequences are especially well accomplished, flowing from one set-piece to the next with only the briefest of time to digest what you’ve seen before the next section of  beautifully rendered CGI slaps you around the chops and shouts “Boo!!”. It really is an irreverent adventure movie from start to finish, punctuated with some good jokes and a standout performance from Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. (When will they give that man an Oscar??)

My only real criticism would be that everything just seems to happen. I realise this is Tintin and, to a point, the only remarkable thing about him is that things just seem to happen to him all the time but we really could have done with a little more explanation or thought on the part of our protagonist before things dawn on him. Simply pointing skyward and connecting A to E without the intermediary steps of B,C and D comes off as far too convenient. Unfortunately this extraordinary instinctive ability to put clues together in an instant and then give the most cursory of explanations persists throughout the film. This does wane as the story progresses, but that’s more because action is thundering along with no need for connecting the dots than any conscious attempt to fill in the blanks.

Another point I’d like to raise before rounding off is that some things did literally just happen. Two examples that immediately spring to mind; The first being when Tintin, for no appreciable reason, goes to a “deserted mansion” that just happens to be the Haddock family home and where the main villain, unbeknown to our hero, is in residence. The second is when a tank chases Tintin, Haddock et al though a Middle Eastern city. It just happens to appear right behind them half way down the hill and, bizarrely, encase in a hotel’s entrance hall. Both of these glaring examples lead me to believe that an extended cut (similar to those of the Lord of The Rings movies) may be on the cards for the DVD/BluRay release. Jackson at least has a history of such things and it might help resolve my earlier criticism too…

In conclusion then, this movie is bags of fun and visually spectacular. Just let the pace of the film to you, don’t think about things too much and you’ll love it. Score = 7/12.

*Perhaps unsurprisingly, the 3D added nothing but a few pounds to the cost of our evening’s entertainment.
**These are presented as “one shot” but, due to the nature of the movie, are simply effects shots without cuts, so don’t really count. They look very nice though…

 

I’m Still Here

I'm Still Here
I'm Still Here Poster
I’m Still Here is the directorial debut of Casey Affleck, star of the ill-timed Gone, Baby, Gone and controversial The Killer Insisde Me. As a first move from actor to filmmaker, I’m Still Here is both incredibly brave and shockingly misjudged.

The film is ostensibly a cinema verite take on the retirement of Joaquin Phoenix, picking up after the huge success of Walk the Line. We see Phoenix’s hedonistic lifestyle, his failing attempts to start a hip hop career, his alienation from his friends and finally a supposed catharsis.

The film is supposed to be a documentary account of Phoenix’s real life, but after watching the movie it becomes apparent that the whole thing is an act, Albeit one played out on a public stage. A fact confirmed by Affleck soon after the film’s release.

I think I’m Still Here was supposed to be a grand experiment. Phoenix created a character to act as his stand in, and played that role in public throughout the course of the film. As a piece of character acting it’s astounding, even taking his pretend persona onto the Letterman show and press appearances. This approach makes us question the role of actors, as well as taking a swipe at celbrity culture, but falls short of its lofty visions of holding the mirror up to us.

Despite whatever artistic merit it might want to posess, the end result is a hard to watch mess which just seems self indulgent. Rather than setting out to make a film with a point, it feels like the brothers-in-law are playing a joke on you and looking to make a quick buck out of filming it. I can only see two intentions behind making this movie, either as a serious film about actors and their private lives, or as a comedy.

The film fails on both fronts. Phoenix’s assumed persona is little more than an idiot, he plays a role which wouldn’t be outside of the ouvre of Jack Black. There are no moments of humanity to relate to, no tender beats to endear this invented version of Joaquin Phoenix to us. All we are left with is a fool acting up on camera, which would be fine if this was a comedy. It’s not. There are no laughs here, there’s no cringeworthy moments, in fact I can’t think of a time during the film when I felt anything but bewildered and bored.

All this leads to one final scene, without dialogue, of Phoenix walking up a stream until submerged, all the while scored by a lonely piano. At this point I was done with the film, and adding a faux meanignful moment at the end just smacked of a desperation to be taken seriously. We can’t be expected to feel empathy with a character suddenly, just because the film tells us to.

If this film had worked it could have been a game changer, instead it ends up being a character study of an unlikeable twerp, a high-concept Borat. Maybe this film could have had something to say about ‘real-life’ celebrity but it burns that bridge with sheer bloody-minded silliness. Doubtless Phoenix is a great actor, but this project was simply a waste of his time and yours.

-7 R-S

Toy Story 3 Review

When I became a man, I put away childish things. This of course is a quote, as I still play computer games, paint little army men and watch films called Toy Story 3.

Pixar’s latest film returns to the well realised characters from their first feature, released way back in 1995. A subset of the cast from the previous two films find themselves neglected by their owner, Andy, desperately trying to regain his attention. We learn that Andy is going to college and must decide what to do with his old toys. Through various mishaps most of the old gang end up at a daycare centre, whereas Woody has a golden ticket to college with Andy. Of course, the daycare centre isn’t the paradise it appears, and Woody is left with some important decisions to make.

You may have heard that this film is a bit of a tear jerker, and your humble reviewer can report that he wasn’t above having a bit of a weep towards the end of the film. It is genuinely affecting seeing characters I loved when I was 14 struggling to live in a world increasingly hostile to them, a family whose circumstances are changing just like the family of Andy. I challenge any adult to not feel at least a little emotional when Andy’s mother sees his newly emptied room, or when the toys stoically face death together after facing a world filled with betrayal.

Pixar’s talent for layered storytelling takes these emotional themes, more at home in a drama, and mixes them with elements that are fun, hilarious and at times a little scary. The film follows a narrative that is easy to follow and keeps the pace up well with nary a slow moment, possibly at the expense of feeling a little rushed. This pacing ends up burying some of the other toys, Bullseye and Slinky Dog seem to be downplayed almost to transparency, and I’m not sure that Bullseye is actually in the conveyor belt scene at all. It would have been nice to see more of the supporting toys from the earlier films, but I suspect that would have dragged down the start of the film unnecessarily. Saying that, the implied loss of some other toys, namely Woddy’s squeeze Bo, impart the theme of the film early and well.

There is also a confusing romantic subplot happening between Jesse and Buzz which, whilst leading to some entertaining scenes, adds little to the story and seems disjoint; especially if your memory of the second film is a bit hazy. I’d have gladly given this up for a bit more screen time for some other characters. The last real issue with the film is that it might be a bit scary for younger kids, I heard one child remarking that they were scared and I’m fairly sure another left the cinema. Although the level of threat is fairly high, it’s not opressive. The film is a U rather than a Uc and seems secure in the knowledge that kids don’t want an boring happy romp. I for one have much fonder memories of childhood films with a high level of antagonism.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen voice the protagonistic couple, Hanks has the lion’s share of the work but Allen puts in a great performance and managed to make me forget I was listening to the ‘star’ of Home Improvement. Other characters are well rounded where they are allowed to be. The perennially quixotic Joan Cusack puts in a great performance as Jesse, being both abrasive and endearing at the same time, but not given enough space to really shine. Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles and Estelle Harris) have some good scenes together as well, and are the most active of the supporting toys.

New additions Ken (voiced excellently by Michael Keaton) is the comedic star, providing a lot of the laughs during the middle stretch of the film. Casting Keaton here was stroke of genius, you can almost see the first movie Batman’s face in Ken if you squint hard enough. Ned Beatty as antagonist Lotso never seems to really get to grips with the character though, by turns outraged and friendly he doesn’t come off as the mastermind he’s supposed to be, more two personalities inhabiting the same character.

A quick note on 3D. I tend to avoid it wherever possible, I find it distracting and blurry, but for Toy Story 3 it’s worth investing in the Elvis Costello glasses. If it wasn’t for the fuzziness in near objects I could have completely forgotten the film was in 3D, but Night & Day however, the short before the main feature, uses the 3D effect in a genuinely interesting way and is well worth seeing.

All in all, I adored Toy Story 3. The continuing theme of obsolescence carried through the series from the first film comes to a head, and leaves you with a bittersweet ending to the character’s stories. This is possibly Pixar’s best film to date and the best film I’ve seen this year. Go to see it now, take the kids, friends and a tissue. You won’t be disappointed that you did.

+10 on the Rjandberg-Smythe scale

Twi-Hard 2: Twi Harder! LIVEBLOG!

Well, we’re back! And we’ve brought Twilight: New Moon with us! For reasons none of us really understand we’re here to live blog the second movie in the Twilight saga.

Present is Ado to my left, and Gazz to my slightly further left. The Thai food is here, and two pints of beer have been consumed. Meet us at 20:30, and prepare your loins!

We’re here, and we’re watching the trailers before the ‘feature’! I have a beer, Gazz has a beer and Ado has a squash.

More ARRPATTS trailers before the film starts. YAY

Crustyplow: The Driest Furrow. A movie about kids watching old folks getting it on.

The URL advert for Eclipse lists a Bebo address. Aren’t they dead?

A yellow moon. That’s symbolism for a weak bladder. Bella sounds prophetic (pathetic). Lots of red riding hoods. Flowers and some old bird. HI GRANDMA!

The sparkles begin! EAT GRANDMA! DO IT EDDIE!

HOLY SHIT; Edward did Bella’s granny. Now bargain basement Jason Leigh brings a sammdige. I’M BORED.

Ado: She only has one tone.
Gazz: You’ll learn to love it.

What kind of car is that. I think it’s a Volvo! Perfectly framed shot of a pretty boy walking in slow motion next to his shiny Volvo. Yea!

Ed is 109, she is 19. ULTROPAEDO! Get off that lass, grandad!

Gazz: We could just fuck in the back of this Volvo?

Best line of the film? ‘I’m just filling out Bella’ and ‘You should come take a ride’

Ado: ‘I saw this hole the other day, and I thought of you. It’s like a wizard’s sleeve!’

Perky girl rots my brain. Ado: ‘Vampires don’t use stairs, it makes sense now!’ Funny ‘don’t trust vampires joke’

Ado: ‘The Keanu Reeves award for emoting goes to…’

Gazz: ‘Previously on Twilight: biting’

PRETENTION!

Shit! Brian Clough is in this film! Nice ruff, Clough!

Best part of the film? Dismemberment by Brian Clough. Clough’s Rough Stuff is Gazz’s Cliff Richard cover band.

‘She’ll come for me soon’

‘Don’t hate the truck. It’s a Volvo’

YOU GOTS BLOOD ON MY BEIGE CARPET BITCH, TAKE IT! Eat her!

Does Ed look a bit disgusted.

Ado: Look at all the blood in you. Time of the month is it?

‘How do you do it?’ From behind with a bag on your head. No two bags for redundancy. You’re a double bagger.

Why do they burn the bandages? It’s so that they don’t go rooting through the bins later for them. It’s like when you throw half a sausage away, then regret it later.

Mumble translation:-
Ed: Bella do you understand my feelings for you at all?
Bella: God told me. How’d you feel about your solo? Ern weewap, so don’t worry about mine
E: Scronsay
[pause]
B: Shitty birthday. Say ass one thing. Kicks me (Gimli?)
E: SCROMF. [pained look]
B: It was a poo
E: Who are you?
–==SCENE==– (Ed only does one take)

Bella don’t use no photoshop. Also Gazz sez they ruining Bon Iver. Ado: Nice titties on the left.

Neil: What’s happened so far?
Ado & Gazz: Nothing

Who the fuck is Jizbert?

Bella: ‘I’m coming!’ Us: From that distance?

Who the hell is charlie? We don’t know but they ARE in the trees.

Charlie says, don’t watch Twilight. Gazz: Oh Stephanie Meyer, how I hate you

MOPE!

Bella still looks constipated. No wait, it’s coming! No, she’s just falling over. WHILE STANDING STILL. DU HAW, I’M SO CLUMSY LOL

Topless action! Man boob. Moob.

Ahh, Charlie is Tesco Jason Leigh. Gazz: ‘I got naked, but I didn’t rape her’

OKTOBER
Mope
NOVEMBER
Mope
Gazz: She’s not even listening to the Cure. Rubbish
DECEMBER
Snow mope. Snope
EMAIL BREAK. Cool, disappearing computer!
Bella: SCREEAPHRAAAGHHHAHHH! Period cramps
Charlie shall now be called Churl.

Beer is gone 😦 GAZZ, GET ME ANOTHER. Now Bella is going to Jacksonville. I hope the movie ends soon.

WE’RE ONLY 30 MINUTES IN! There’s another hour and thirty to goooo.

Hopefully it’s an hour’s worth of credits. Ado: Who for? Mumblor and all the cameramen who offed themselves.

Bella’s truck don’t work ’cause it’s not a VOLVO. I wan’t to drink at ONE EYED PETE’S.

Wtf is with ghost Edward? Really?

Bella: I think I know one eye.

Bella want rough trade. Ed thinks that be a bad idea. None of us have any clue what’s going on here. Now time for MORE MONOLOGUE!

Bella: If i need a rush of danger to see him, I’ll have to drive a HONDA.

Is it that Ed actually turns up when she’s in danger, or that she’s gone mental and sees him when she’s high on adrenaline?

Why do they keep making jokes about Bella’s age. Is this a theme?

Wolfman (Jacob?): Do you not like that song?
Bella: I don’t like things I enjoy

First time I’ve seen Bella turned on by is man fighting.

I remember this on time I broke up with a lass and woke up screaming every night. Supportive Churl is supportive. And not funny.

Churl: Sometimes you have to learn to love what’s good for you. [Later he is arrested for incest]

Gazz about Jake: Is that as close as you can get to being female whilst still having a ballsack?

There’s still a damn hour left.

Is Ed really scared of her driving a dirt bike. Isn’t that a mite overprotective. YES FACEPLANT INTO A ROCK! MORE OF THIS SORT OF THING!

GREAT LINES IN CINEMA:
Jake: You’re apologising for bleeding?
Bella: I guess I am.

More random topless! ‘Here smell my shirt. Mmm’

Why can’t we see the tigers being killed by bears?

Bella: What about ‘Face Punch’ have you heard of that?
Rando #1: No
Bella: You have now! [Smek]

Let’s Do This! Face Punch. I wanna see that more that Twiglet. Rando is a pussy. We also wanna see Parking and Gambling, Gods and LSD, also Pontypool, Mike Zero.

BOO RALPH! You’re rubbish. We see you’re online, you’re just hiding from this amazing film!

Bugger! Jake made her feel feelings again. Now we go back to mopecore mode for a while. STOP MOPING! SHUT UP! FUCKING TEENAGERS! ‘I’m not like a car, you can’t just fix me. But I do have a spacious boot and wide exhaust’

I honestly don’t know what’s happening now, except that Ed has gone and Bella’s a bit mopey.

Topless!

Why does Bella go for angry assholes? Ginger rando was OK.

‘Hey Jake, come and hang out in the woods with us guys in tight shorts with no tops on in the pouring rain! It’s totally not gay!’

We think Bella’s trying to find a cliff to jump off. We want that! DO IT BELLA.

Oooh, Bella on her knees again! Who’s this guy? I think his name is Orwan, Rowan or Woyan. His accent is great and randomly dropped. Actmaster!

Ado: MY EDWARD SENSE IS TINGLING
Gazz: Who the fuck are all these people?

Why would any vampire be afraid of Ed? He’s a goit.

Growbag: I can’t help but kill you, so mouthwatering
Bella: Please don’t

There’s totally a wolf! Werewolves vs. Vampires is more boring than I thought.

Twilight rules of vampires:
A) You’re immortal
B) You’re pretty
C) You’re sparkly
D) Don’t really need to drink blood
E) Get a bit angry around blood sometimes but not a lot
F) BASICALLY NO DRAWBACKS!

Ado and Gazz are on Team Jake. I’m on Team FOAD.

Jake can’t work shirts anymore. Cutting his hair cut his IQ by all.

WE DEMAND VAMPIRE, WEREWOLF, MOPEY BINT THREE WAY! IT SHALL BE AWESOME!

Bella: Come back and talk, Jake! I have not moped enough! (Falls over)

Plot is actually happening! We’re on tenterhooks!

Ado: It’s all about the dialogue. The dire-log

SLAP! Anger! Wolfywoo! Let’s hope those shorts grow back!

Ralph, you’d like this. They keep talking about feelings. You’re into that, right?

Wolfmen: Hey Bella, wanna come inside? there might not be any nobbing.

Ado is taking his top off to show TEAM JACOB solidarity. Bella is a total whore for supernatural bastards.

BEER 3!

I watched Inception before this. I don’t know if that’s making this worse, or if it really is this tedious.

BITE HIS FACE OFF! Jamaycahn vampire’s face was delicious, B. You know, the main villain in this film hasn’t been seen by the audience yet, but is always talked about. Is that good filmmaking? NO!

Ghost Volvo! Golvo! Ginger, there in the trees, old man! Dumbass. Now she’s after Churl! OH NOES! Get the ginger, Team Jacob. Do you think she’s leading them into a trap? I THINK SHE IS!

Twilight vamps can not only cross running water, they can swim like motherfuckers.

Ado: Not vampires. CAMPIRES!

Bella’s going to be killed by the sea! Yay! Shark ginge! Kill her, end this damn movie! At least Ghost Ed is around to watch.

Grey Shorts Guy: Hey A-Hole ar going to horrargh ver place. Have you seen the financing available on new Volvos?
Bella: [Mumbles]

All the dudes Bella likes are the Hulk. Imagine if she met Bruce Banner. SPAFF!

Bella is such a ho bag. ‘You’re so special! Also, I hallucinate about Ed like all the time. Lets knob and I can hallucinate his face on your piece!’

Ado: Abstinwhore did done goned did a breathe!

Psychic vampire is not a character. Sometimes I wish I was a walking deus ex machina.

Psychic lass: #Bella, what is that awful wet dog smell?’
Bella: ‘MY THATCH!’

Better wolfvampbint threeway! Psychic vamp is a better Ed. Me: What month is it now? Gazz: Mopetober

Shit, this is the first time in an hour we’ve seen Jake with his shirt on! 5 to 1 that he’s topless in the next film. Bella should knob Jake, he’s much better.

Stuff happening! Psychic: He wants to die too! Us: SO DO WE!

Is that a Volvo? WHY YES IT IS! Bella has her own plane. It’s a Virgin Atlantic. FNARR!

Brian’s back! Get in there, Brian! Camp, camp Brian Clough. Are the folks in Engerland? They’ve nicked our road signs. It’s apparently italy. With Brian Clough. They’re also driving a Porsche, so you know it’s Italy.

FUCKING CLOWN SHOES! None of this makes sense! ‘You go, because he can read my thoughts! Even though he saw you dying half way across the globe!’ Ed’s suicide plan is gash.

SHUT UP YOU MOPEY TWATS! You make no sense and we can’t tell what you’re saying.

Bella – still a virgin whore. What are we betting that the little girl vamp is like 800 or something.

WORST MUZAK EVER! I bloody hate these damn boring vampires. BRIAN CLOUGH IS BACK! Brian: ‘ANwo Anctante!’

Ado: This is the best bit of the film! Look at Brian emoting! I’d forgotten that people could do that! He actually changed the tone of his speech! Amazing!

FIGHT! It’s fast in slow-mo. Nobody knows why they’re fighting. Probably for ratings. SMASH HIS PRETTY FACE IN!

For a soulless vampire, Ed is one depressing bastard.

INTO THE CLOUGH EYE! What’s in there? A crap scene where Bell and Ed have a nice run in the woods. We know Bella is a vamp because she FAILS TO FALL OVER.

Ed: Sorry I fucked off forever. It were for your own good
Bella: …
Ed: Whormble wardhe
Bella: …
Ed: …
Bella: My donna wo change me
Ed: [waffle]

Gazz: If you become a vampire, you automatically lose your hymen. Incidentally Bella is more of a son than you ever were, Ed

Woop! Jake and Ed meet! Jake has lost his shirt again. Jake has introduced an exciting contrivance that will stretch this out for another movie at least. Bella tells Jake she’s been stringing him along. I’ll bet Jake keeps sniffing around her though. Damn Bella’s fickle heart! So many hot dudes want to do her, and she can’t decide who gets a ride.

Ed: Wait five years, then I’ll make you a drawback free vamp.
Bella: No
Ed: Marry me then

END. Thank fuck that’s over!

No wait! There’s a stinger after the credits! It’s Brian Blessed as Ghengis Khan! He’s come to set all the main characters on fire for being boring mopey assholes! Look at all the blood! best stinger ever!

That was bloody awful. I hate you all. Goodnight.