Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Ben Watches the Watchmen. Perv.

Watchmen was always, in fairness, going the be an incredibly difficult comic to film. It wasn't exactly built for it, from the start. The comic itself is incredibly slowly paced - to its advantage - which, even with a three hour film, was going to be exceptionally difficult to translate.

To Watchmen's credit, it works very well. combining almost graphic-for-graphic images from the comics with the film. It's also carried by very strong performances from the actors. For a guy whose face you rarely see, Jackie Earle Haley gives an amazing performance as Rorschach. His vocal style and different levels of physical acting made the character come across as a personality of its own.

It was definitely a good idea of Zack Snyder to cast relative unknowns for the parts - it allowed the characters to speak for themselves. Personally I didn't like 300, Snyder's previous effort. I thought that it was vastly overdone, and in all fairness, would have been all of ten minutes long if it hadn't been filmed almost entirely in slomo.

But in reproducing most of the comment almost shot for shot in Watchmen, Snyder manages to retain most of the Atmosphere from the comics. Admittedly he has to change some of the plot elements - the Cthulhu-esque monster from the end of the book would have just looked stupid come the end of the movie.

...The books been out for 23 years. If you claim I'm spoiling it, fuck yourself. Sideways.

There are other elements of the story different from the Books. The overall tone of the ending is a lot... happier. For lack of a better term.

The Problem with reviewing it, is that theres no way to detail any of the plot without really spoiling anything else. So I'll stick to what I know...

See Beginner's rule handbook #2: "Why Re-invent the Wheel."

...Ze Action in Watchmen, It be fucking awesome. you do get a good amount of Gunplay in some scenes - primarily flashbacks to the days of the Comedian - But the Hand to hand scenes are utterly fantastic. If you read my "Top-Ten Fight scenes" from a few entries back, you'll have noticed that I have a bit of a thing for realistic fight scenes. Watchmen somehow manages to do bigger-than-real fightscenes without actually losing the realism of the movie. Its also illustrated by the fact that each character has a very distinctive individual style, from Nite Owl II's more heavy handed kickboxing/bodyblock style to Ozymandias' uniquely defensive counter-fighting technique, it contrives to give each fight a very individual flavour and makes for very compelling fights - something 300 distinctly lacked.

Watchmen Is, truth be told, one of the best superhero movies I've seen, even when all the characters are substantially less than super.

Until World War 3, I remain,


Sunday, 16 August 2009

My take on the NHS-USA Debate.

So, American Republicans...

You believe that a system where peple have to pay through the nose for life saving operations, where if they cant pay, they cant afford to have a baby and where people spend years paying off the result of injuries because the insurance companies who have been taking their money suddenly refuse to pay and where peple are chucked out of hospitals simply because their insurance wont sustain them staying any longer...

is superior to a system where...

I can get medication with no insurance for my damaged achilles tendon for a flat fee of £7.00, my wife can get her monthly doses of medication for her asthma on a flat fee of £100 a year, and where, whilst there are some waiting times, they are not months and months for life-saving operations (and no, dickheads, we dont have death panels either) and where, If i'm in hospital, I can stay for as long as I need to without worrying that I'm suddenly not going to be able to pay for it.


...on a personal note, I have a friend in the states who struggles to afford her Asthma inhaler because unlike over here, where my wife gets hers mostly for free, it costs her $300 an inhaler. If Barack Obama does nothing else, establishing this health system is what the USA needs.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Harry Potter And the Grim Grim Dark Grimness.

So, after a few days of my wifes nagging, We finally went to see Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince.

And you know what? I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now, this may seem rather insignificant to you, but as my wife could probably tell you, I've always been rather indifferent to the Harry Potter movies. Not that I dont enjoy them, I've just never been particularly bothered about actually seeing them. I liked Order of the Phoenix, but again, I was very indifferent to actually going out and watching them. The same again was something I felt for Half-Blood Prince.

Now, the Book of the film was the only one in the series I found truly problematic. it wasnt bad, but It felt as if the entire thing was merely a setup for Deathly Hallows. To be honest, the last few books felt a little flabby compared to the rest, with multiple chapters of Harry being a whiny little bitch.

Daniel Radcliffe's performance in the film, however, takes a slightly different tone. After the rather miserable opening of Order of the Phoenix, admittedly, leading from the death of Cederic in Goblet of fire set the tone for the whole movie, leading up to the death of Sirius at the end of the movie.

...Look, the book came out in 2003, and the film in 2007. If you claim I'm spoiling it for you, fuck yourself. Seriously.

Anyways, Radcliffe's performance is the true sign that this young actor has truly ound his feet in the part. In the first few movies I was genuinely underwhelmed with his performances - even making allowance for his age - but in Half-Blood Prince he genuinely makes the part his own, bringing a certain zest to the performance that he previously lacked. And it really worked. His personality leapt off the screen in this film, bringing fantastic life to the movie. Similarly, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have matured into their roles, allowing the chemistry that the three have shown in interviews to finally come through on screen. Given that the film is far more concerned with the relationships between the characters than those that have come previously, it was just what they needed.

But thats not to say there isn't plenty of action. There is, but it's far mor subtle than in the film's predecessors. There are no really huge shootouts, no extended battles, which is good because there isnt any way this film could have done those sequences without either looking tame next to the last film or overshadowing the climax of the next (two?) films. The attempted attacks on Dumbeldore - especially the scene when a cursed Necklace takes hold, are fairly nerve-wracking.

And all of lends to the general feeling of darkness about this movie. This is not Shiney-Happy Potter. This is the culmination of all the grim imagery thats influenced the last three films, and its all a buildup to the Final sunrise of the last Film. It's a genuine credit to JK Rowling that most of the imagery in the film can be lifted directly from the book. Her Novels are incredibly visual in their writing, and that's one of the things that makes this film what it is: an amazing visual experience.