If You’re Going To Kill Somebody, Kill Them! Don’t Stand Around Talking About It! – Van Helsing

26 10 2016

Van Helsing (Universal Pictures - 2004)

Are Heroes Overrated? You know, some evil thing is stalking the planet, only for the hero to come in and save the day, as they do. It is all rather common at the moment, and it appears that there are a lot of heroes out there that can do the same, so is it all a bit overrated? I mean, if there are many who can do it, why do we bother putting so much faith in one Super Hero when chances are there is someone else out there equally qualified to do the job of ‘saving the day’. Why do we need to worry if something evil comes along, when we all know too well right now that someone is likely to come along at some point to solve the problem. Maybe we should all just get on with our lives, in the fullest knowledge that there are heroes out there tackling things that go bump in the night, and in the meantime we can all sit down, flick on the TV and drink Hot Chocolate!

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Released in 2004 by Universal Pictures, Directed by Stephen Sommers and Produced by Bob Ducsay; Van Helsing is a Fantasy Action-Adventure film which intends to pay tribute to the Universal Horror/Monster films of the 30’s and 40’s released by Universal and based on the works by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. Set in the horrifying (maybe not in real life, it may actually be really pleasant, who knows) area of Transylvania, the film follows the adventures of Monster Hunter Van Helsing; inspired by the character of the same name from Bram Stoker’s book Dracula. The film endeavors to include other monsters in it story too alongside Vampires including Frankenstein’s Monster and Werewolves.

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In 1887, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) has successfully created a monster with the help of Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Dracula though wants to use the creature for his own evil plans and Kills Frankenstein. While his castle is raided by the local villagers, Frankenstein’s Monster takes his creators body to a nearby windmill which in turn is burned down by the villagers. In Paris one year later, the renowned monster hunter Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is wanted by the police, but before he leaves he quickly dispatches the elusive Mr. Hyde (Robbie Coltrane). He returns to the Vatican in Rome, where his superior; Cardinal Jinette (Alun Armstrong) tasks him with yet another mission: to go to Transylvania, and kill Count Dracula. The mission being to help the last bloodline of the Valerious family, who may not enter Heaven until Dracula is killed. Jinette also suggests that Helsing may find out answers to his nightmares and forgotten past there too. Before setting off on his mission, Van Helsing gets weapons and gadgets from Friar Carl (David Wenham) who also accompanies Helsing to Transylvania. Meanwhile in Transylvania, Velkan (Will Kemp) and Anna (Kate Beckinsale) Valerious try to kill a rogue Werewolf, but Velkan is seemingly killed in the pursuit, leaving only Anna left.

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Van Helsing and Carl arrive in Transylvania, where they get less than a warm welcome from the townsfolk, especially the gravedigger Top Hat (Tom Fisher). Anna arrives and tries to get their weapons off them both, but then Dracula’s Brides Verona (Silvia Colloca), Marishka (Josie Maran) and Aleera (Elena Anaya) attack. After a quick attack Helsing manages to kill Marishka, which makes the other two flee. Back at his castle, Dracula orders his remaining brides and his little minion Dwergers with their supervisor Igor (Kevin J. O’Connor) to prepare Castle Frankenstein for an experiment. Back at her home, Anna is knocked out by Helsing determined to protect her, only for her house to be broken into by Velkan now a Werewolf.  Anna and Helsing track him to Castle Frankenstein where they discover Dracula is trying to give life to his dead-born children using Velkan’s Werewolf DNA to power Frankenstein’s lab. The experiment fails however, and after a brief confrontation with Dracula; Helsing manages to escape from Dracula, rescuing Anna in the process. The two then stumble into an underground cave where they find Frankenstein’s Monster (Shuler Hensley) who tells them that without him, Dracula cannot successfully give full life to his offspring. Believing the creature not to be evil, Helsing tries to get the creature to Rome with the help of Carl and Anna. During the night they are attacked by the Brides and Velkan, now fully consumed by the curse. Verona and Velkan are both killed but Helsing is bitten by Velkan, meaning soon he too will turn into a Werewolf. To make matters worse; Aleera kidnaps Anna and takes her to Budapest, and informs Helsing that Dracula will trade her for the Monster.

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At a Grand Masquerade ball, Van Helsing rescues Anna from the clutches of Count Dracula, but watches on in horror as Igor manages to capture the Monster. With only a few hours left until Van Helsing transforms into the Werewolf, and Dracula manages to put his plan in motion, Carl reveals that Anna’s great ancestor was the father to Dracula. Dracula was murdered but in turn made a deal with the Devil. Not wanting that on his soul, Anna’s ancestor makes a pact with the church, for his entire family and bloodline to go to Heaven as long as Dracula is killed, but was unable to do so as he could not kill his own son. He did leave messages however as to how they may be able to accomplish it, and in turn are able to find the location to Dracula’s castle. All three go there, and find out that Dracula holds a cure for Werewolves, because the only thing that can kill him is a Werewolf. Anna and Carl head off to get the cure, running into and a foul of Igor in the process, while Helsing tries to save the Monster. Too late however, Dracula’s offspring are born. Aleera tries to kill Anna, but with help from the Monster and Carl, Anna is able to kill her and proceeds to get the cure to Helsing. Meanwhile, Helsing runs into Dracula, and at the stroke of midnight he turns into a Werewolf, strong willed enough to attack Dracula, eventually killing him. Anna arrives and is about to inject the cure, but Helsing attacks her. Just as Carl is about to kill Helsing, he notices that Anna managed to get the cure into Helsing, who takes the dead body of Anna in his arms, howling into the night as he slowly becomes human again. The following morning, The Monster is given its freedom and rows out to sea. Meanwhile Carl and Helsing hold a pyre funeral, but then Helsing sees Anna and her family’s spirits finally ascend into the clouds.

Now just to be clear in case anyone got confused by my introduction, this is not a Super Hero based movie. It does not feature anyone in brightly coloured flamboyant costumes nor does anybody wield any amazing super powers that they use on and off willy nilly. In all honesty this film actually has more in common with spy films along the lines of James Bond. Yes, it is at heart a fantasy adventure film with lots of interesting well designed monsters and creates some interesting ideas in its story, however I do get the feeling that more detail could have been provided. When watching this you will be forgiven for thinking it’s a cross between James Bond and Indiana Jones, lots of near swashbuckling adventure scenes like those of Indiana Jones (or at least I think so) while also containing a gadget based scene not too similar to Q Branch in the 90’s and 2000’s. Once you get past those near comparisons however you can finally get in-depth with this film. It’s adventure style works quite nicely and the action is well done, but what this film tires to do is create a fun fantasy film, incorporating creatures and stories of the kinds that modern Gothic fairy tales are known for, continuing to show a real sense of peril and danger, while also making it light-hearted enough to be enjoyed to the full, and not needing to hide behind your seat.

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When looking at the film’s plot, it is quite interesting to note that this film is near two hours long, but the lack of thorough detail makes you think otherwise. Don’t get me wrong; it is beautifully crafted and creates some ideas and goes on to generate incredible twists, it just doesn’t feel all that smooth, more blocky and jumpy, like as to say they could have included a bit more detail here and there. The ending is rather anti-climactic and it feels like it is trying too hard to move onto the next scene throughout. I just feel that in the end it could have revealed a lot more; it feels like there is some stuff that is mentioned, or answered little bit but not fully. This whole history between Dracula and Van Helsing especially, the idea that there was history between them, but as to exactly what that was goes relatively unanswered, more suggested. When walking away from this film you’ll begin to wonder if Helsing is the Arch Angel Gabriel and the one responsible for Dracula’s death in the first place, something sort of suggested but again; not really answered. It is something of a shame that there isn’t enough bite, there is a squeeze of teeth and the story does try to wrap up everything neatly but I think it just tried to do too much in the end, and couldn’t wrap it all up either; however the history of Dracula is still a pretty interesting scene.

Van Helsing is made up of a rather interesting selection of cast members, all who do their role well. Well when I say well, there are a few who just fall short of the mark. While you do have people in much smaller parts like the Gravedigger who is a rather nice addition to the cast, and whose appearance be it all a bit small, he is the kind of character you want to see more of; whereas the brides of Dracula are rather annoying. Not annoying because their villains, but annoying because they are annoying! While it is fair to say that the vampire voices are rather generic and possibly a bit camp, all three brides are just over the top. Their look in Vampire mode is definitely over the top and their human presence is far more interesting, but to me their look is too, sort of, Sultan. They look like extras picked from a movie version of Arabian Nights. What did it for me is that Marishka is the better performing of the three, but when you take in all their voices together, plus a brief moment of Marishka posing off in the village, they look and sound a lot like the actress Valeria Golino in Hotshots! Part Deux. It’s just off-putting and rather unnecessary, they don’t even make good villains. With those 3 are out of the way though, the rest of the cast are pretty good. Although I would say that I think Velkan is rather over used, not as much as the three brides, but is sort of toyed around with a bit too much to the point where it is not really necessary anymore. To begin with he is, and it is a great way to show how the Werewolf curse works for the sake of the story, I just think for someone who is meant to be a Werewolf, there is a lot of human scenes.

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The film does struggle with some moments of casting I feel, especially when you consider having Alun Armstrong in a part and only have him on-screen for about five minutes. The same could be said for Robbie Coltrane as Mr. Hyde, a very interesting character that you just want to see more of, but is more used as an introduction. It’s just a shame that not one, but two high-caliber and very experienced actors, are not used in a much longer or greater position; I mean I could understand more if you had lesser known or relatively newer actors in those parts, but why the other way around. Just want to point out though that both Stephen Fisher and Samuel West do good jobs, if very minor ones for the roles of Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Victor Frankenstein respectively.

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As for the films main sightings after the above, they all do really good jobs in the roles they have been asked to do. Igor for instance does well of being conveyed as the foolish and simple Igor, who at times shows some level of his own will and even levels of grumpiness toward Dracula. It is meant to be a more comedic role, but as the film progresses you can see more of his strengths, and even who he really is as he begins to talk more sadistically and even gets into a fight, and that voice is pretty chilling too. Frankenstein’s Monster similarly has a wonderful voice; more operatic which makes me think of Dynamo in The Running Man (but thankfully not all the time). The monster is very much like the creature he is based on, at least in the popular media light fashion, although is seen to be more physically active, and a real fighter. But deep down he is not muscle; but a man wanting his right to be alive in a world that will not accept him. A lot of work has been put into his back story, and he shares some brilliant quotes with the rest of the film’s cast, especially the line: “I Want to Live!” He is a great addition to the cast, and a very entertaining one, maybe a little over dramatic in places but a real good entertaining character while also not being in any way, shape or form; the comic relief. That is more handed down to Igor and Carl equally. Carl is something of an assistant as well as a librarian, not much of a fighter, but more like Willow in Buffy. He is a researcher, someone who shows the important side and value of good research. He is something of a minor fool, who sounds like someone trying to responsibly not get into trouble, but does. In the end though, he shows his true strength, and even a little attitude, as without him they would never have been able to defeat Dracula, as in the end it came down to reasoning and understanding as well as a touch of philosophy too.

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The film’s main trio are made up of some really fine acting talent. For many years now, I have said that Richard Roxburgh’s performance as Sherlock Holmes is my favourite, and still do. Here we get a rather more different performance with him as Dracula. Yes the voice could be considered Generic, but I would not say the passion was. The way he can just say the right things in the right fashion of voice is amazing. Sometimes he could be sorrowful and sad, others he can be mysterious and cold, and others he can be grand and excited. He too has some really good quotes from talking about his lack of heart, to his lack of ring in the final fight with Helsing. Richard Roxburgh delivers in what is a rather fine and fun role, making sure that Dracula lives up to the vampire we all know and love (I know) while also making sure that we know he is the villain and why he should always be the villain; a very enjoyable character, possibly also my favourite depiction of Dracula. Kate Beckinsale meanwhile plays not a damsel in distress, but a brave and confident vampire hunter. She does possibly overplay the accent a little too heavy, but for everything else that she does, she too, like Roxburgh is rather enjoyable. Be it living up to the Indiana Jones like performance, to the voice of reason unlocking the true person of Van Helsing, to of course being the ruthless lady of vengeance. It is hard to really see her in a role like this; however I cannot see anyone doing a better job than she does. She is very Countess of Monte Cristo like in how she performs and how she talks, but in that essence she is rather cool and fun to watch. It’s hard to really pin her down as to whom she is and what she does and what makes her so good. It’s another one of those je ne sais qua moments, where she is/doing something really quirky and cool, but you don’t know what?

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Hugh Jackman is of course playing the titular character of Van Helsing. Here he plays the Vampire Hunter of course who at least to begin with is rather cold and callous, more being a simple Monster Killer than anything else. He is a man with a history, and much like Wolverine (weirdly) is a man whose history is currently not well known (and as explained in the plot section above is still rather unknown to the audience). As the film progresses however he begins to learn more about compassion, first showing it to the Monster, and then learning it through desire for Anna, who helps him see more. In her part, she is more of a secondary object, but he too begins to learn and realize more and begins to see her in a different light (although I feel that him immediately coming onto her by the end is a bit clichéd and could have been developed more). This new character though is definitely different to the one who first appeared in the streets of Paris, although his search for his missing past definitely takes something of a back seat and it seems as in the end he does not really care. One thing remains though throughout is how cool a character he is. This ranges from the way he acts to how he talks, but one thing that certainly helps is this Undertaker like look: The Hat, Jacket and standing in the shadows with a pistol.

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Van Helsing, much like many other fantasy films comes with a whole castle full of visual special effects, some of which are absolutely gut wrenching. The effects on the whole are done quite well and are mostly visible in monster designs. The Dead Born vampire spawn are really icky and creepy while also hanging around in those pulsating pods which are near stomach wrenching. Mr. Hyde is a nice little effect although be it not a long one, as too is Dracula’s Mirror Scene and the Transylvanian Horses scene. Dracula’s monster form I would say is ok, but all of these effects really tremble under the majesty of what has to be the most impressive Werewolf in movie history, that of Van Helsing’s transformation. The transformation is quite creepy, especially where the skin appears to fall off (similar to another icky effect early on with Dracula’s healing burned face), and to begin with he looks more like a gorilla than a wolf, but then when his snout takes form, and as you see him standing over Dracula, it is such an impressive sight (I keep wondering why on earth Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban couldn’t create one just as awesome), and the fight between the two I feel is not as long as it could be, and nearly wastes this amazing Werewolf. If I was a Werewolf, I would want to look like the one at the end of Van Helsing, who wouldn’t? For me that is the whole highlight of this film.

Which is more than can be said for the soundtrack! The soundtrack composed by Alan Silvestri does actually sound rather pleasant and for the genres that this film is trying to convey is a suitable fit. It’s just it’s rather overused. Not as much as The Last of the Mohicans (which I am certain only has one piece of music in it); but still quite a lot. It does have some nice pieces of music, the End Credits is good, some of the battle scenes, the funeral, the Masquerade ball, and the adventure style theme tune used prolifically throughout are all pretty cool; however, there are two pieces of music which sound near exactly the same (unless they are just one piece) which is used nearly every minute during the last great battle, and it is so noticeable (like Last of the Mohicans) as it is used prolifically in scenes that suggest Indiana Jones like action: Like swinging on a rope for instance. It’s not exactly annoying, just irritating, because the music on show is pretty good but nearly let down by one (or two) piece used too much.

On the whole though, I think this is a really cool film, maybe not the best or the greatest of Fantasy Adventure films, but overall I think it’s a really cool, fun film. It has an interesting story, a cast made up of categorically worthy actors but not overplaying their roles; keeping their roles fun and interesting, some cool special effects helping to create some certainly breath-taking Monsters and one of those soundtracks that is now rather recognisable for certain pieces used elsewhere. Yes, it does have its issues: Some cast members are near gratuitous, the plot is a bit sketchy with bits not even answered and there are a lot of uncivilized bits as scenes and effects go. Though for everything that does not work, there is more than one that does altogether creating an entertaining yet very cool and sincerely engrossing film.

GENEPOOL





A Brief Introduction To The X-Men Film Series

15 10 2015

X-Men: The Last Stand (20th Century Fox - 2006)

I don’t know if you saw my lacklustre, mediocre post on Tuesday (sorry about that, I was pretty tired when I wrote it), but in case you didn’t; all next week (Monday to Sunday) right here on this blog I will be posting the biggest writing project I have undertaken since finishing University. To cut a long story short, it’s an entire week of film reviews, one every day; and to keep it nicely wrapped up altogether it’s going to be all the (current films) in one particular series of films. Now while I could build up the excitement and tension to the eventual reveal, the title of my post pretty much tells you which film series I have decided to review: X-Men. So, before next week’s exciting series begins, I thought I would give you a (hopefully brief) introduction to the X-Men Film Series, along with other little bits of interesting information, but promise to try and not go too deep with explaining what happens in the films themselves, otherwise I have ended up wasting the last 4-5 months writing X-Men film reviews.

The X-Men film series is easily one of cinemas most recognisable film series with currently 7 films released over the last 15 years. Since the release of the first film in 2000, it has become a financial and critical success, and to this day is one of the 15 highest grossing film franchises/series to date having grossed more money than some of the cinemas more recognisable movie franchises including: Terminator, Indiana Jones, Star Trek and Mission Impossible. It is also a series of great critical acclaim with 4 out of 7 films receiving fresh ratings of 81% and higher on Rotten Tomatoes. It is one of the longest running film series this century having not one restart, reboot or remake anywhere in it (unlike other series that come to mind: Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Fantastic 4, Hulk, James Bond, Terminator and Star Trek), and has turned both growing stars and absolute nobodies into some of the cinemas best known and even household names. X-Men as a series and what it has achieved over the last 15 years is unlike any other in cinema today, and is set to continue with not 1 but 3 films due for release next year, (Deadpool, Gambit and X-Men: Apocalypse) along with a third solo outing for one of its biggest stars in 2017 (third Wolverine film) and even plans for 2 other potential films already underway.

X-Men Comics

The X-Men film series is of course based on the Marvel Comics and characters of the same name. The story of the X-Men follows a super hero team made up of a second caste of humanity known as mutants. While they look the same as Humans, Mutants come with special abilities and powers, and the X-Men are made up of some of these mutants. Life for the X-Men though is a tough one, because while they are a super hero team, fighting dangerous threats and saving humanity on a daily basis, humanity isn’t exactly fond of mutants, and sees them as a threat. From the get go, the X-Men have been a different kind of super-hero team, one that while saves the day like all other super heroes, they have to fight those they try to save, and fight for a future where mutants can be free from persecution. Leading them in this charge is Professor Charles Xavier who fights for a future where both humanity and mutants can live in peace together. A difficult thing to fight for, especially when there are other mutants out there who don’t think this kind of future is possible. In step Magneto, a mutant who can manipulate metal and an old friend of Charles Xavier. While remaining as something of a friend to Xavier here and there, Magneto believes only one species can survive and thus begins the battle between the two. As the series continues, new enemies and threats enter the fold with major villains like Apocalypse, Mister Sinister and Onslaught to name but a few. However, Xavier does not have to face such threats alone and with his team of X-Men including (but not limited too) Cyclops, Jean Grey, Storm, Wolverine, Iceman, Shadowcat, Beast, Rogue, Archangel and many more fight both old and new threats on a weekly basis. That’s basically the general idea.

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The comic series itself at one point (if not still to this day) was (or still is) America’s bestselling comic series. Created by the combined might of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the comic series originally started back in 1963, but back then was a commercial disaster and by 1970 the series was cancelled. In 1975 the series was resurrected with help from artist Dave Cockrum, Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas and writer Len Wein. No-one could have seen what would come next as the series became Marvel’s biggest hit. Since then the comic series has gone from strength to strength. During the early 90’s; the X-Men got their own cartoon series on the Fox Network which went on for 5 series between 1992 and 1997. This was then followed up with 2 more separate cartoons in the forms of X-Men: Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men. The X-Men even got their own video games. While during all this the comics continued to evolve and the X-Men themselves got involved in some of the biggest stories in the Marvel Comics, including being the hosts of the epic ONSLAUGHT Saga, as well as having a war with the Avengers much more recently.

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In 1994, 20th Century Fox bought the film rights to produce an X-Men film after seeing the success of the animated series. Spearheaded by producer Lauren Shuler Donner, the first film; simply called X-Men was released in 2000 by new up and coming director Bryan Singer. It starred well know actors like Patrick Stewart (who was struggling to find work at the time thanks to being on Star Trek for so long), Ian McKellen; growing stars like Anna Paquin, James Marsden, Famke Janssen, Rebecca Romijn and Halle Berry, and even hired an absolute nobody (but who is now a household name) to play the iconic role of Wolverine in Hugh Jackman……….the rest as they say is history. Over the course of the following 14 years, new actors would be appointed, following the previous formula of well-known stars (Kelsey Grammer, Brian Cox, Kevin Bacon) as well as new growing stars (Ellen Page, Peter Dinklage, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult) as well as people who were at the time relative unknowns but are now household names (Jennifer Lawrence). Along with them came new characters and stories famous within the comics, plus of course new villains. Origins stories were told, time travelled, new weapons and machines created, plus the never-ending fight for freedom from a world that hates them. The comics quite literally came to life and through its unique perspective and style of storytelling produced one of the most entertaining, emotional, powerful, dramatic and even realistic film series to date.

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The X-Men have come a long way since their first appearances on comic book shelves back in the 1960’s. There have been ups and downs along the way, successes, failures and have even branched out into other forms of media, from Cartoons to Video Games, to of course the big screen. Since making that big leap, it has become one of the highest achieving and most recognisable film series to date and with the series set to continue; the future for the X-Men looks Fantastic.

GENEPOOL (I hope you have enjoyed reading this and enjoy reading my reviews next week as much as I have enjoyed writing this and them too).





Top 7 Most Exciting Films In 2015

21 01 2015

Film Reel 2015

Since 2012; I have annually produced a list of my top 10 most exciting films of the upcoming year. These are the films which I am most excited about that are due for release later in the year. This year however, there’s a problem, there are only 7 films I feel genuinely excited about. While there is the new Star Wars film due for release later this year, I just don’t feel all that excited about it, the new Terminator looks much better, but I don’t feel all that strongly for it, and while films like Monsters: Dark ContinentChappie, Minions and Crimson Peak do look rather interesting, I don’t know much about them to feel anything major for them. It’s quite the dilemma, but I have found at least 7 films that I am genuinely looking out for and so here is my list of the Top 7 Most Exciting Films In 2015 (it would have been 8 if Kung Fu Panda 3 had not been pushed back to 2016).

Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel Studios - 2015)

7. Avengers: Age of Ultron – When The Avengers (Avengers Assemble in the UK) was released, I was relatively OK with it. I thought that having all characters on-screen could ruin it but overall was impressed with the portrayal of The Hulk. I however thought that the film would ruin future one-off releases by constantly mentioning that film instead of being its own thing and until recently was not all that excited to the release of the new film. Even when the first trailer for Age of Ultron came out, I thought it looked rather rubbish, particularly the ridiculous giant Iron Man armour (but not as ridiculous though as the upcoming Ant-Man film). The second trailer though look more refined and when I began to look at it in-depth it began to look a little more interesting. While I am sort of wavering on this film, I am a little more excited about it, and am interested to see how they are going to portray two X-Men characters in it.

Spectre (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer - 2015)

6. Spectre – The next instalment in the James Bond series and sequel to Skyfall. The next film sees Sam Mendes returning to direct this new film which is set to star Christoph Waltz and former World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion Dave Bautista. While the plot of the new film is still rather unknown, the promise of a new bond film, let alone being directed again by the director of Skyfall shows promise.

Insurgent (Lionsgate - 2015)

5. The Divergent Series: Insurgent – The sequel to Divergent. Having not read the books myself I don’t know what is going to happen but the trailer does look rather good. Previous cast members return for the next instalment, including both Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz and altogether at this stage, the film looks rather interesting.

Blackhat (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

4. Blackhat – I have been looking forward to Blackhat for a while now. The first time I heard of it was when I was researching the biography of Legendary Pictures founder Thomas Tull. I sort of kept the film in mind before eventually finding the trailer, to which I am impressed. What looks to be a hacker based drama starring Chris Hemsworth, the trailer made this jump so high in my list. While the film has not yet been released in the UK, it has been in America, so fingers crossed, it shouldn’t be too long until it gets released in the UK (not unless it’s going to be like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all over again).

Seventh Son (Legendary Pictures - 2015)

3. Seventh Son – I have mentioned this film a lot over the last several years and it has been a long time coming. Had it not been for it being pushed back an entire year (especially as the trailer for the film was released several months before that was announced), it would have been released by now. Based on the book series The Spook’s by Joseph Delaney, the film follows the Spook taking on new apprentice Thomas Ward to fight the forces of darkness and protect the local people from the things that go bump in the night. What is supposedly based on the first book in the series; The Spook’s Apprentice, Seventh Son follows the story from the beginning. The trailer however shows things which I can’t remember in the book, and I think the character of Thomas (Ben Barnes) looks a little old for a character who is supposedly a teenager. The Spook (Jeff Bridges) however looks pretty close to perfect. While I am a little unsure of what the trailer shows, I am still excited to see what the film does.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (Lions Gate - 2014

2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 – The film series that gripped the world from its first instalment finally reaches its ultimate climax. What will be the second part of the third book (a trend that is taking over the whole of cinema), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and company will fight through the city streets of the Capitol to reach and ultimately bring down the ruthless Capitol, ruled by the villainous President Snow (Donald Sutherland). While Part 1 ended where I roughly thought it would, it’s going to be interesting to see how Part 2 will ultimately finish. I’m probably going to cry when this is all over, it’s been one of my favourite film series, not just in recent years, but I have seen to date, and I’m gonna miss it when it’s all over later this year.

Jurassic World (Universal Pictures - 2015)

1. Jurassic World – I have been waiting for this film for a long, long time. I love the Jurassic Park series, to me, it’s better than it’s close rival; Star Wars. I have always loved dinosaurs and the Jurassic Park films have always been fun (even number 3 has it’s moments). Having read though the book of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton this past year, I do see the films in a different light. The trailer for the new film has been out for a long while now, but from the moment I saw it, I already fell in love with it. The film’s setting looks terrific, and the premise looks awesome and terrifying. While a second trailer is due to come out relatively soon, it won’t be too long until this film gets released, but the first trailer gives me plenty of reasons to be excited about it.

GENEPOOL (I would have included Birdman, but seeing as it has already been released in both the US and the UK, I thought it felt a bit late to mention it).





Eurovision Reaction 2014

12 05 2014

Conchita Wurst

Another year of Eurovision happened this past weekend, this time hosted in Copenhagen by last year’s winning country, Denmark. This year, they went against the norm by showing the previous year‘s winning song, not at the beginning, but halfway through, and that’s not all, they only really showed 30 seconds to a minute’s worth of what was both a catch and fabulous song and instead show a whole new song which apparently had everyone from the final singing to it. I didn’t see that bit though as I went to the toilet.

The presentation of last years winning song had also changed from a sort of cultural, possibly French army look, to something more tribal. While Ukraine did something similar in 2005 when they hosted it, at least the song was in the same style.

 

As for the contest as a whole, The presentation was a bit varied. It started off quite well, the built stage was amazingly done and the water around the stage was a nice feature too, the idea of putting the green room in the foreground was a nice touch which made the thing look like a Velodrome, and the little bits here and there such as the odd touch of comedy, particularly in the Eurovision Museum sketch which included a brief appearance from both Johnny Logan and Lordi. But as the event went on, it got a bit overdone with its selection of fun facts and how the presenters could hardly stay in one place throughout the show, and while they tried to lighten up the show by bringing in little gifts for the countries including the UK as well as a booth appearance for Graham Norton, the people involved seemed to be so confused, that they looked like they had absolutely no idea as to what was going on or what the presenters were talking about, and while they did try to come back with added fireworks, it was pretty much too late to save the presentation of the contest. Not even the song about the number 12 helped. All this from the only country to win the contest twice since 2000, which means they should know how to put on a show. At least we’ll have a reason to think twice before voting for Denmark in future contest for the near future. The flag postcard feature was quite nice though, they deserve credit for devising that.

As for the songs, it mostly a year for ballads, which was quite annoying for the most part as there was hardly any diversity at all. While countries like Finland, Ukraine, Iceland, SwitzerlandSpain and even the UK managed to do something different, there wasn’t much from the ballad department to look out for. Ok, Sweden‘s was well sung and I wouldn’t have minded if it had won it, but I didn’t vote for it, Slovenia‘s was also quite interesting. Iceland’s had a catchy theme, but the presentation was sort of annoying, the colours, the formal Teletubbies dress code and the singer who kept making me think of Kenneth Branagh, but given the ballad fest, I wouldn’t have minded so much if it had won, even though it’s sort of surprising that it wasn’t a hot country in the voting. It was nice to see San Marino in the final for the first time, even if the song was performed in front of a giant clam shell. For me though, there was only two choices for my vote, Spain’s which was quite well presented and catchy, and Ukraine’s Hamster Wheel Song. I voted for Ukraine, but it was close between those two as to which to choose.

The voting was a hot contest throughout with the fight for the top spot going on into the second half. even with about 10 countries left, it was still between 10 2 countries, Austria and Netherlands, with the Netherlands having one of their best years in the contest for a long time. But with about 3 countries left to go, Austria had already won it marking their second victory in the contest after close to 50 years since their last win. The UK did quite well reaching 17th place beating Azerbaijan who for the previous five years had always reached the top 5, this time coming in 22nd place. As for Ukraine and Spain, Ukraine came 6th, and Spain 10th, while Finland, a country with limited success since their debut, but not so much in recent years did quite well this year coming 11th overall. But it really was Austria’s year this time round with the song Rise Like A Phoenix sung by Drag Persona Conchita Wurst, which I thought wasn’t all that good as I thought it sounded a lot more like a Bond Theme with annotations from The World Is Not Enough, especially as moments in the song almost went into “The World Is Not Enough”. To be honest though, most of those points were probably awarded due to the presentation of the singer, much like Finland’s victory in 2006. Overall a sort of over average contest at best which was quite disappointing and was definitely not the best contest over the last 10 years, but did survive to some respect to remain enjoyable at best.

GENEPOOL





Random Alphabet Quiz 3

16 05 2013

RAQ3

It’s time for another Random Alphabet Quiz. Here is how it works:

  • 26 Questions.
  • Each Answer begins with a letter from the Alphabet.
  • Each Answer is in Alphabetical Order (Question 1 = A, Question 2 = B, so on).
  • Answer as many as you can, either write them down or leave a comment.

So that’s how it works, enjoy.

  1. A Japanese Animation Film by Katsuhiro Otomo?
  2. The Name of a Batman Villain that appears in The Dark Knight Rises?
  3. A British Actor who had appeared in 199 films by the end of 2012?
  4. The first James Bond film?
  5. The capital city of Scotland?
  6. An American Fantasy artist who has been inducted into both Jack Kirby Hall of Fame and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame?
  7. The first book in a series of six by young adult author Michael Grant?
  8. A 2011 Japanese Remake by Takashi Miike based on a film of the same name by Masaki Kobayashi?
  9. The American name for Quantic Dreams 2005 video game Fahrenheit?
  10. A Legendary Stand-up comedian from Birmingham?
  11. A 2005 Japanese Video Game by Suda 51?
  12. A Car Company that produced the Stratos?
  13. An extinct species of Mammal related to Elephants?
  14. The source of this river was recently discovered by the Top Gear Trio?
  15. A game involving plastic body parts and electricity?
  16. A British Artist whose work includes paintings of Dragons, Unicorns and Stonehenge?
  17. A Fantastic Dice Game by WizKids Games?
  18. A 1987 Sci-Fi film by Paul Verhoeven?
  19. One of the three starters in the first 151 Pokémon?
  20. A Marvel Character that appears in The Avengers?
  21. A Swiss global financial services company located in Zurich and Basel?
  22. A Graphic Novel by Alan Moore?
  23. The surname of the Scottish Inventor and Engineer who developed the concept of Horsepower?
  24. Microsoft’s current Home Video Game Console?
  25. A popular video sharing website?
  26. A system of postal codes used by the United States Postal Service?

GENEPOOL








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