Monday, 26 September 2011

Movie Challenge - the follow on

Back on 28 April 2011 I picked my top 10 movies for 2011 and my selection was as follows:

Dr Dogbert's Top 10 Summer Movie Selection
1.Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows – part 2
2.Transformers Dark of the Moon
3.Kung Fu Panda 2
4.Cars 2
5.Captain America: The First Avenger
6.Pirates of the Caribbean: On stranger tides
7.The hangover 2
8.X Men first Class
10.Green Lantern

Dark Horse Movies
•Apollo 18
•Cowboys and Aliens

The Results are in:

1.Harry Potter and the Deathly hallows – part 2
2.Transformers Dark of the Moon
3.The hangover 2
4.Pirates of the Caribbean: On stranger tides
5.Fast Five
6.Cars 2
8.Captain America: The First Avenger
10.Kung Fu Panda 2

So the rules state that you get 13 pts for getting number 1 and number 10 right, 10 if you get a film in the correct spot (in 2-8), 7 pts if you are 1 away, 5 pts if you are 2 away, 3 if you listed it in the top 10, and 1 if you picked it as a Dark Horse.

The results are in and my score was an impressive 46!

Thanks for playing and did you beat 46?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Thor – is it really hammertime?

So Marvel finally took the leap into the “unreal” world and launched onto the big screen Thor as a precursor to Captain America and as another puzzle piece to The Avengers which is due next year.

Now I’ve read around the character so I know about some of the mythology thanks to history lessons, video games, and even some TV series’ an d walking into this movie I decided I wasn’t going to have an opinion. I’ve even read some of the comics for the Marvel series where the character is part human and seen in some books to be a mental patient which is a great idea. So I knew sort of what was going on. Then I came to the trailer....

Watching this I thought “uh oh, this doesn’t look like it’s going to do well” and “oh please don’t be another Hulk”. I mean the cast (Natalie Portman, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston and Anthony Hopkins) showed promise with the director (Kenneth Branagh) all mixing together. The action look a bit stiff and it all looked like it wasn’t going to fit very well – like a clown car in real life.
So I walked into the movie theatre with an open mind putting the trailer out of my head. We open with Thor crashing to earth and Natalie Portman doing her best to save this person she’s just met. Queue the flashback to Asgard (home of the Norse gods) and the explanation of how this fits within this real world that Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1 + 2), Louis Leterrier (The Incredible Hulk) and the writing team over at Marvel created.

Asgard is all CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) minus some real world sets for people to walk on and interact with, but carries this majestic feel to it where you feel like you truly are in a city of gods. However the film doesn’t stay here, we see Thor banished for being too hot headed (who would have thought it) to earth where the main story beings and I’m going to stop with the story.

The sets on Earth work well and we get some nice pieces (including the Marvel god Stan Lee) and fight scenes towards the end of the film. While the acting doesn’t feel rigid from the cast, there are those who just blow you away such as Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Tom Hiddleston (Loki). They make the roles there own and the writers make them fit within this universe very well. However, Tom Hiddleston steals the show for me as you really can’t get a read on him in things such as where this character’s true motives lie.

Overall this film works really well when it’s not in the other universe and set on earth and interacting with the characters we have seen already (Agent Coulson) and those which we are introduced (Clint Barton AKA Hawkeye). I would love to see these characters now interact with the likes of Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Steve Rogers, Nick Fury, Natasha Romanoff and Maria Hill – of which we will next year in The Avengers.

Ultimately you’re now asking “Is this film worth a watch?” If you’ve like the other Marvel movies of recent years then yes it is (in IMAX), for those who are new to this or just enjoy a good action movie perhaps give it a rental on DVD / streaming when its available. Other than that to the outside audience it’s a bit dull and some of the reference will fly over your head a little.

On final thing, if you want to see how The Avengers unfolds? Stay within the credits and see what is to come next year as a teaser to the plot!

Roll on Captain America and X-Men First Class if they are like this or something much better as I will be there to see them

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Movie Challenge

Ok so here's the thing, I have a go at this each year and thought I'd make it a little competition between me and some of my friends. The idea is that you pick 10 of the top films for the summer and 3 dark horse films for the summer. Note this is based on the US Box Office results

If you want to enter post in the comments section with your 13 picks in Top 10 order and 3 (in no order) dark horse movies.

Here is the list and I will post my 13 in the comments. Best of luck and I look forward to the challenge!

May 6
- An Invisible Sign (limited)
- The Beaver (limited; expands: May 20)
- Caterpillar
- Daydream Nation (NY, LA)
- Forks Over Knives (limited)
- Harvest (NY)
- Hobo with a Shotgun (limited)
- I'm Not Jesus Mommy (limited)
- Jumping the Broom
- Last Night (limited)
- Make Believe (limited)
- Octubre (October) (limited)
- Passion Play (limited)
- The Silent House - La Casa Muda (limited)
- Something Borrowed
- There Be Dragons (limited)
- Thor (3D/2D and IMAX 3D theaters)
- The Vintner's Luck (limited)

May 11
- City of Life and Death (NY)

May 13
- The Big Bang (limited)
- The Bleeding House (limited)
- Bridesmaids
- Brother's Justice (limited)
- Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (NY; LA release: June 3)
- Everything Must Go (limited)
- The First Grader (limited)
- Go For It! (limited)
- Hesher (limited)
- The High Cost of Living (limited)
- How to Live Forever (NY)
- L'Amour Fou (NY)
- Priest (3D/2D theaters)
- Skateland (limited)
- The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (NY)
- True Legend (limited)

May 18
- Louder Than a Bomb (limited)

May 20
- 35 and Ticking (limited)
- Bloodworth (limited)
- Cost of a Soul (limited)
- The Lion of Judah (3D/2D theaters)
- Midnight in Paris (limited)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)

May 26
- The Hangover Part II
- Kung Fu Panda 2 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)

May 27
- Tied to a Chair (limited)
- The Tree of Life (limited)
- United Red Army (NY)

June 3
- Beautiful Boy (limited)
- Beginners
- The Last Mountain (limited)
- Love, Wedding, Marriage (limited)
- Rejoice and Shout (NY; June 17, LA)
- Submarine (limited)
- X-Men: First Class

June 10
- The Chameleon (limited)
- Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer
- Super 8 (conventional and IMAX theaters)
- The Trip (limited)
- Trollhunter (limited)
- VIVA RIVA! (limited)

June 15
- Kidnapped

June 17
- The Art of Getting By (limited)
- Buck (limited)
- Green Lantern (3D/2D theaters)
- Mr. Popper's Penguins
- My Afternoons with Margueritte (limited)

June 22
- If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (limited)

June 24
- A Better Life
- A Little Help (limited)
- Bad Teacher
- Cars 2 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
- Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
- Page One: Inside The New York Times (limited)

July 1
- Larry Crowne
- Love Etc. (NY, LA)
- Monte Carlo
- The Perfect Host (limited)
- Terri (limited)
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3D/2D theaters and IMAX )

July 8
- Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest (limited)
- Horrible Bosses
- Ironclad (limited)
- Project Nim (limited)
- Zookeeper

July 15
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
- Life, Above All (NY, LA)
- Salvation Boulevard (limited)
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (limited)
- Tabloid (limited)
- Winnie the Pooh

July 18
- Sinbad The Fifth Voyage (limited)

July 22
- Another Earth (limited)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (3D/2D theaters)
- Friends With Benefits
- Myth of the American Sleepover (NY; LA release: July 19)
- Point Blank (NY)
- Sarah's Key (limited)

July 24
- Life in a Day

July 29
- All In (limited)
- Cowboys & Aliens
- Crazy, Stupid, Love.
- The Devil's Double (limited)
- The Future (limited)
- The Guard (limited)
- The Sleeping Beauty (limited)
- The Smurfs (3D/2D theaters)
August 5
- Bellflower (limited)
- The Change-Up
- Dirty Girl
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes
- The Whistleblower

August 12
- 30 Minutes or Less
- Final Destination 5 (3D/2D theaters)
- The Help
- Higher Ground (limited)

August 19
- Circumstance (limited)
- Conan the Barbarian (3D/2D theaters)
- Fright Night (3D/2D theaters)
- The Missing Piece (limited)
- One Day (limited)
- Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World (3D/2D theaters)

August 26
- A Good Old Fashioned Orgy (limited)
- Apollo 18
- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark
- Our Idiot Brother

August 31
- The Debt

August TBA
- Limelight (limited)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

There's an ALIEN in my movie screen!

So this one is going to be a bit different, in the fact that I’m going to look at 2 films – both have something in common – Aliens

Battle Los Angeles

This is the film that war films really ought to make more often. Why? Well the film has a different take on the whole movie idea. It knows the audience wants to see action, cool sequences which sound great, and they don’t really give a rat’s ass about the story too much. This about sums up the approach Battle LA takes here.

We open on a beach and see a man running, who is then passed by a bunch of other guys we find out he is in the army, he curses under his breath as the group passes at speed leaving him behind. We then move to the next scene where we find him slumped against his car applying an ice pack to his knee (Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon line should now be mentioned but is rather more implied). These short burst scenes go on for about 15 minutes of the film as we are introduced to the unit we will spend the next 2 hours with.

After the rounds are done a story about meteors is mentioned with some mysterious activation of military personnel being placed on active duty and vollá we turns out the meteors are aliens, and they’re not friendly at all as they open fire on a beach in Santa Monica. Now we roll into 1 hour 30 minutes of action and what the audience wants.

That’s pretty much it for story, it’s no Inception but it’s certainly not a “fire and forget” film. The aliens look really good visually while their ships are very much junker ships and look superb on screen as you can see each section as it is put together. Overall the camera work suits the film with the day shots working well and the night shots with look great and pick up some good details of LA in both the night and day.

My only faults with the look lies in two areas:

1) the fog – seriously don’t put too much of this on screen or the audience has no idea what the hell is going on, and when you have a squad of about 15 characters on screen who are new to the audience we have a lot of confusion (unless this was intended to make the audience feel like this? Or I could be seeing things which are not there).

2) Camera shaking - this feels a little “after effect” and doesn’t quite do it as good as Saving Private Ryan. The audience does not need to feel sea sick when sat in a movie theater no matter how cool it looks in the editing room!

Acting wise Arron Eckart pulls off the old solider quite well for the most part but it feels phoned in other parts. On the other side of the coin Michelle Rodriguez fits right at home here and for once does not die at the end of the film. Ne-Yo is a surprisingly good performer in this film and he doesn’t get off lightly, he matches it blow for blow with the more experienced actors. The rest of the cast are bit like background noise – they’re there you just don’t notice them that much.

In a 140 Review (A Tweet Review) of the film I said: Independence Day + Black Hawk Down + District 9 = Battle Los Angeles. This is true but needs a little expansion. Take the action and pacing of Independence day + Black Hawk Down Setting and style + District 9 aliens type = Battle LA. Really this is a good action film and worth a go, however don’t expect a District 9 where you walk out questioning the motives and are really thinking about the films message – here the message is simply “USA kicks ass and finds a way no matter what” – this comes from a Englishman!


So let’s start this off with a point – this is not a follow up to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (the cornetto trilogy) nor does it have anything to do with Edgar Wright (he was busy making the awesome Scott Pilgrim). This film is Simon Pegg and Nick Frost having a go on their own making a movie.

Paul is sort like a more “South Park” ET – in the way that this alien isn’t nice or charming. He’s rude, smokes, and makes fun of most things as a know it all – but then he has been here for 50 years or so. Paul see’s two English best buddies fly over to San Diego to head to Comic Con and then see some of the big UFO sites along the way – this was until they met Paul.

Coming into see this movie I had seen mixed reviews about the movie, with most saying it was short to that of what we would expect from Simon and Nick. To be honest I enjoyed the film and found that having a CGI alien who is crude but also has a heart good to see and the characters were typical of the English geek in the USA at one of these big conventions (speaking from personal experience here). The film is littered with references to other movies and even get a cameo from none other than Steven Spielberg (no doubt a favour to the lads as they worked on TinTin), while Sigourney Weaver makes an eventual onscreen appearance as the film’s villain.

The acting is good, the camera work is fantastic when it comes to the road scenes and we even manage to avoid the Who Framed Roger Rabbit moments when people interact with Paul. The humour fits with the tone and I feel that it more relates to an English sense of humour with some of the jokes. I wouldn't say that it is so funny I split my sides, however I did find that in moments I was laughing out loud at the jokes.

This is quite a good comedy film to see in a light hearted way. It’s not as crude as say Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s work but it’s at heart a buddy comedy movie. To anyone in two minds about seeing it, it’s worth going just to see Seth Rogan pull off a superb performance without having to appear on camera.

In the words of Paul - "That's Jenga!"

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The problem with modern gaming - part 2

Welcome to the second part in this series, part one can be found here ( – go take a quick look and come back, I’ll still be here for when you come back…… All done? Good now we shall continue with:

Send in the clones

Hands up, who’s played a sports game – you know the ones I mean Tiger Woods, Madden, NHL, FIFA, NBA … the list goes on! Ok not a sports fan how about a game like Battlefield, Unreal Tournament, Street Fighter, Tony Hawk, Mortal Kombat, Tomb Raider, Soul Caliber, Super Mario Brothers, Sonic Adventures, or Guitar Hero? You must have played at least one of those?

Each of these games has a sequel to it and in most cases follows the law of diminishing returns (see here for technical definition). Many of these games developers feel it a must that they put out a new version of these games at least once a year with some minor updates. With many games now being connected to the internet via some service or another, games can be very easily patched on a console or even added to with downloadable content.

Each new version try’s to improve on where the other version failed, and from time to time we see improvements with updated graphics or new control elements, for example when moving to a new console. But with the current console cycle being the longest yet these improvements are becoming fewer and fewer and the publishers are asking consumers to pay £40 / $60 for a few tweaks to a game they already have and could be done just as easy through downloadable content.

Beyond the non-obvious clones in the form of sequels we also have the real clones or knock-off’s, you know the ones I mean. The review refers to it all the time in ways such as “like God of War but …” or “like GTA but …” or even “this is clearly inspired by Crackdown.” These are the games that the developers were either playing and thought “I could make a tonne of money off this,” or some executive at the developer we “we can make a tonne of money off this idea”.

Examples of this type of game can be seen all the time in clear poor games which enter the bargin bucket quicker than a piece of chicken that ended up on the floor. Occasionally there is a half decent attempt at a knock off and they create their own clones sorry I mean sequels, case in point Saints Row (GTA), Prototype (Crackdown), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (God of War) (I credit Yahtzee Croshaw with this one). The last one is in fact a sequel, or is it a prequel? (a sequel in disguise).

Right now the consoles and pc gamers are all going to die a death of boredom if they don’t get some new game ideas flowing soon. We have seen this happen with some nice new shiny games come our way but those damn executives get a dollar sign in their eyes and BANG we have a sequel with Multiplayer on its way!

Yet fear not, there is a light being seen and you’re not going to like me for saying this – social gaming. Now don’t hit me (yet), hear me out first. Social gaming (in my world) includes all of the iPhone / mobile games that we have seen pop up with the age of the smart phone in the last few years. Take a look at some of the games that we have been given – Game Dev Story, Angry Birds, Broken Sword, and to some extent Farmville (ok you can punch me for that last one).

Each of these games has taken something simple and made something of it. Game Dev Story is one such example, where they have taken the management sim (a long forgotten genre of game) and added a new touch to the game by making a game where you have to make games to succeed. The game is simple in concept, clearly aimed at a target market and is a solid game.
So why have these games been missed or over looked? Well (I’ve done it again) that brings me to a new point:

She’s goin’a blow!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Hands up when you saw the trailer for the next Epic studio game who else thought “What the hell is this?”

Bulletstorm is from People Can Fly and Epic Games (Published by EA) and see you play as Gray an ex-mercenary now turned drunken pirate who’s hell bent on revenge against the general that double crossed him. The game takes place on a planet where you’ve crashed not only your own ship but the General’s ship. Now that’s it for plot for the game – there’s development and curveballs through the seven chapters but really that’s the bones.

If you’ve played the demo, the game starts off at a snail’s pace compared to the fast pumping action that you did in the demo. You slowly wind into the mechanics and the story and it’s only in about chapter two when you’re let loose with your leash (that cool whip looking thing) that you really kick up the pace.

The game rewards you for killing in unique and varied ways. For example the sniper rifle has some of the best kills as you take control of the bullet (eventually times slows down into bullet-time – I couldn’t resist!) and move in for the kill. The thing is the enemy realise this could be his last breath so he dodges, turning his back on me – my thoughts “You cheeky S.O.B I’m going to stick this bullet where the sun doesn’t shine bucko!” So I aim the bullet down and the up into his arse and what do you know I get Hotshot +100, Rear Entry +100 all for doing that.

While this may feel good after a while you start to look at the guide and almost see how can I kill someone to earn more points? This is where the challenge and uniqueness of the game comes into its own ... for a while. Towards the end of the game you find that the enemies up in difficulty (as they tend to do) and the skills shots just don’t feel as rewarding as they first did – this may have something to do with beginning to think with more strategy on pulling them off as you face a horde of un-knock-down-able enemies who have specific kill spots?

The single player can be completed in a single day with a good sitting and has enough challenges to keep you there for 8 – 10 hours. However this game tag’s you bag in with Echo mode which is like a time + skill-kill mode which seems you replaying small portions of the game in timed modes for as many points as possible, which creates leader boards and competition amongst your friends list – that is if you have friends on there who are playing this mode

As for multiplayer Epic games bolted in a sort of horde mode called Anarchy mode with wave, after wave, after wave of ever increasing enemies. Now I’ve not tried this yet but I can imagine its fun with a close group of friends over live as you try to stay alive as a unit of four. When being interviewed about the game’s lack of real multiplayer Cliff Bleszinski told The Telegraph
“It was in there at one point and it actually worked, but we found that the game shifted from being this kind of puzzle-shooter into essentially this downhill skiing simulator, where people were seeing how fast they could get to the bottom of the mountain,”

Having played the game I can see his point but then again I really wouldn’t mind perhaps a Left for Dead style 4 vs. 4 multiplayer which would make for an interesting game as you could see people trying some real interesting scenarios with some of these enemies.

All in all this is a good quality game which is truly a child of its predecessors. It takes the intensity and looks of Gears of War and then throws into the mix the speed of Unreal Tournament. My only gripes about the game is that it’s really too short, it’s a bit too over simplified and the ending feels kind of cheap. I mean clearly there is going to be a squeal to this game from the ending, but having the whole final fight devolve into a Quick-Time event? That’s just wrong and belongs in a class of lower game.

This game is a good solid attempt at something new and fresh in a genera that is running low on ideas. But, and this is a big BUT I think many people will only be buying this game for access to the Gears of War 3 multiplayer beta – which if you ask me feels like you’re short changing this game. It has a great sense of humour (even if the language is over the top at times but well suited), it looks good, plays well, and is something that would suit well as maybe a two week loaner and you’re done.

Give it a whirl and go kill with some skill!

Sunday, 27 February 2011

2011 Oscar Predicitons

So tonight is the 2011 Academy Awards, or Oscars to you and me - so what movie commentator is worth his salt by not making a comment on who will win what. Before you go on please note I've not seen many of the nominees this year (I managed to see 8/10 of last years best picture nominees) so some are based on opinions and others guesses from what I hear / see / feel about the film.

Best Picture – The Kings Speech - This is a close race between The Kings Speech and Social Network. Kings has the momentum but the academy may vote for their countrymen. Don’t count out Black Swan as the underdog here though

Directing - Darren Aronofsky - I’m going with the left field choice here as I feel many of the judges may just want to balance the books out here

Actor in a Leading Role - Colin Firth - This man has the shortest odds to win this accodlade and the only close challenger in my opinion is James Franco – acting on your own to camera is hard and this should at least be acknowledged

Actor in a Supporting Role – Christian Bale - From what I hear Bale goes above and beyond what any normal actor should have to do for a role and completely imitate the guy. Don’t be surprised if the vote swings to Geoffy Rush though

Actress in a Leading Role – Natalie Portman - This really is looking like a dead cert here – not a strong category for competition

Actress in a Supporting Role – Helena Bonham Carter - Ah now this is a good mixed back here, while Helen has the talk here I would say keep an eye out for the young gun who could sweep in here in the form of Hailee Steinfeld

Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – The Social Network - An interesting tale and well told

Writing (Original Screenplay) – Inception - Of all the nominees I feel this is clearly a winner as its not based on a book or actual event but made up which makes the best film

Animated Feature Film – Toy Story 3 - I would say a close 2 horse race between How To Train Your Dragon and Toy Story but for me it just has that little extra point to win this one

Art Direction – Inception - This is a truly stunning piece of art and should be acknowledged as such

Cinematography - The Social Network - From what I’ve seen this is a well shot and edited piece of work

Costume Design – True Grit - Again from what I’ve seen the film does have stunningly accurate costumes here

Music (Original Score) – Hanz Zimmer – Inception - I listened to this outside of the movie and it just gets me. Clearly Zimmer has it here

Music (Original Song) – “We Belong Together” – Toy Story 3 - Come on, have a heart!

Sound Editing - Inception - See below

Sound Mixing - Inception - The whole sound feel adds to the movie and makes it a whole

Visual Effects – Iron Man 2 - Come on did you see Whiplash? And the armour effects? But could lose out to Alice in Wonderland

Documentary (Feature) – Exit through the gift shop - Clearly this one has taken the movie industry by storm and is a good piece

Film Editing - The Social Network - Again well shot and edited

Foreign Language Film “Biutiful” - It’s the only one I’ve heard of!

Makeup – The Wolfman - Clearly this one needs a nod for the hard work put into it – even if the movie did suck