It’s possibly one of the most hyped and eagerly anticipated movies of all time. So the day that Prometheus was released, I headed straight to my local cinema clutching my popcorn to find out exactly what all the fuss was about. I’m a big fan of the Alien franchise and although Prometheus isn’t exactly being billed as a direct prequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, I knew what I was letting myself in for and my hopes of leaving the cinema with a satisfied smile on my face were pretty high. For me, Michael Fassbender steals the show but then when doesn’t he? His take on Android ‘David’ will surely receive a nod come Oscar season. Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Idris Elba and Sean Harris all deliver the goods. One thing that did leave me scratching my head was the casting of Guy Pearce as elderly billionaire Peter Weyland. Surely they could have cast an older actor, rehearsed and had him ready for his close up in the time it took to put the (pretty dodgy) prosthetic make up on Pearce. The special FX however are quite literally out of this world. I won’t say too much as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. There does seem to be a lot of negative reviews online from disappointed fans. Okay, the story may have had one or two plot holes and left a couple of questions unanswered. There perhaps isn’t as much gore as some might have expected but Scott had stated from the start that Prometheus, although being loosely related to Alien, was it’s own movie. Going in with that mindset, perhaps that’s why I enjoyed Prometheus so much. I’m ready for the next installment.
With Ridley Scott’s Prometheus set for a June release (UK), the team behind it have released this viral video in which Michael Fassbender gives an eerie portrayal of an android delivering a list of it’s capabilities to camera. Whilst not necessarily a direct prequel to Alien, Prometheus is set in the same universe and will reference the original movie greatly. In that case, are we to believe that ‘David’ is a product of the same company responsible for creating Ripley’s prosthetically challenged mate Bishop? More than likely. They aren’t giving much away but one thing’s for sure, Prometheus is set to be one of the biggest movies to hit the box office in 2012.
Juliane Moore is rumoured to have bagged the role of Mother in the forthcoming remake of horror classic Carrie. There’s no denying our girl will deliver the goods if this goes ahead and with Kick-Ass firecracker Chloe Moretz in the lead role, it’s sure to be almost as chilling as the original. Almost.
I’m very proud of Danny Boyle. There he is, a Manchester born lad firmly making his mark on Hollywood and winning awards left, right and centre in the process. Ironically, The Beach is one of his many films that hasn’t won any awards but is the one that I’ve chosen to write about here. Regardless of the lack of shiny in the cabinet for Boyle’s interpretation of Alex Garland’s novel, the film was a big box office success raking in over $15,000,000 in the US on opening weekend.
The Beach is the story about a thrill seeking young man called Richard, always searching for that next big adventure. Following a chance meeting with a clearly disturbed man in Daffy played by Robert Carlyle, Richard finds a map that points him in the direction of the ultimate holiday destination. One that you certainly wouldn’t find in the window of your local travel agent. Although due to the success of the movie, nowadays you just might.
Just 23 years old when he played the role of Richard, Leonardo Di Caprio gives a performance that proved to critics that he’d more than earned his place in the Hollywood mainstream and that he wasn’t just a one hit wonder who happened to be particularly good (or bad) with icebergs.
The soundtrack is brilliant. With less than a couple of bars of Pure Shores, All Saints collaboration with William Orbit and my teenage years come flooding back. There’s no doubt that when Leo and co arrive at ‘The Beach’ for the first time, that scene just wouldn’t have had the same breathtaking impact as it did because of Moby’s Porcelain.
Perhaps it’s the idea of total escapism, teamed with standout performances from a stellar cast including Tilda Swinton that appeals to me so much about this movie. Sit a homegrown directorial genius like Danny Boyle behind the lens and The Beach is a movie I will continue to return to for many more times to come.
The Beach 4/5
What’s all this about then? Trying out a new look for summer, James Franco? Thankfully not. I’m sure you’ll be mightily relieved to read that the cornrows, gold teeth and gangster bling are all simply part of the make up of Franco’s character in forthcoming comedy, Spring Breakers. Starring alongside Mrs Justin Bieber herself, Selena Gomez and High School Musical graduate, Vanessa Hudgens, Franco plays a drug and arms dealer with four teenage girls at his mercy after bailing them out for holding up a restaurant to fund their spring break vacation. Will the desperate ladies carry out this K-Fed looking wannabe’s dirty work for him and more importantly, will it actually be any good?
Spring Breakers is due for release in 2013.
I have this vivid childhood memory in which I must be no more than 5 years old where I sneak downstairs early one morning to watch an episode of 80’s Sci-Fi series ‘V’, that my parents had recorded for me the previous evening. I remember pressing play on the VCR and readying myself for my favourite show to engulf the screen with spaceships and mutants with human faces. Except this time it wasn’t alien beings and the usual outer space goings on that I was so used to seeing that filled the screen. It was a movie that I would later know as Poltergeist. Not exactly the scariest of scary movies, so I like to think I was introduced to the genre pretty gently. I must have managed to get a fair way into the movie before my parents came downstairs and hurriedly pressed the stop button on the VCR. I was devastated. I LOVED it! I wanted to know what would become of Carol Ann and that strange little lady with the psychic powers and Deep Southern accent. Could I be sucked into the TV set just like it had happened to that little blonde girl? I was scared but unbelievably excited by it. That was my first taste of horror and from that moment, I was hooked.
When I watch a ‘scary movie’, I want to be exactly that-scared. I want my heart to race for the helpless victim that’s so desperately trying to escape the demented masked killer who always seems to keep falling over at precisely the last moment, just as he’s about to make his move. That’s what defines horror as a genre to me. The first time I saw The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it terrified me like no other movie had before. I first watched it with a couple of friends, one of whom had seen it previously and urged us to watch it as we made our selection at the video store. Judging by the cover (and I know that you shouldn’t do that), my expectations weren’t high. By now, I was used to the glossy, blood splattered teen sheen of the Scream’s and the I Know What You Did Last Summer’s that were proving so popular at the time.
The razor sharp chord of the film’s soundtrack in the opening titles still gives me the creeps when I hear it even now. I’d watched a fair amount of horror movies by then but nothing had prepared me for this. Funnily enough, it was the director of my first flirtation with horror, Tobe Hooper that would be scaring me witless all these years later. Considering the movie was essentially a project for a group of college students and created using an estimated budget of $83,000, it’s pretty incredible that it’s considered to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made. When Gunnar Hansen’s Leatherface threw back that heavy metal door to the cellar and lurched forward over the first unlucky victim, my blood ran cold. The fact that the whole macabre tale is (very loosely) based on true events just adds to the terror of the rather unfortunate situation that this group of teens have found themselves in.
Marilyn Burns blood curdling screams as she runs through that dense wood in the thick of night, pursued by a chainsaw wielding Leatherface make her one of my ultimate ‘Scream Queens’. Needless to say I was thrilled to read about her involvement in the forthcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, due for release in 2013. Which brings me nicely onto the more recent stamp on the Texas Chainsaw franchise. I have a lot of love for Michael Bay. Bay doesn’t do things by half as we know. He likes things big and he likes them loud. He’s particularly good with horror in my opinion. I get the impression he really did care about doing things correctly and doing justice to the original movie. His interpretation of Leatherface was bigger and more brutal than ever. It’s essentially, The Texas Chainsaw Massacare: On Steroids. I adore the sweaty haze Bay manages to create on screen. He must also be given praise for managing to make even the most terrifying of scenarios sexy with his devastatingly attractive victims working that lens right up until they bite the bullet. Or meat hook. Whatever. It’s torture porn at it’s sluttiest.
Back to ‘74 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is considered to be one of the greatest horror movie’s ever made that has stood the test of time and will no doubt continue to do so. It just goes to show that it doesn’t always mean pulling out the big bucks to create a movie masterpiece that will hopefully put sheer terror into generations of viewers for years to come.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 5/5
The first rule of Fight Club is… Yeah, you know the drill. I’m guessing most of you will have seen this little beauty at least ten times by now and for that reason alone, well it just wouldn’t be right not to shout about how fantastic it is.
David Fincher is a directorial hero of mine. His shots are ambitious (see Panic Room) and his dark and gloomy approach (see the majority of his CV) is stylish beyond words. I’d go off on one about how awesome I think Se7en is but we’ll no doubt get onto that some other time.
Ed Norton is utterly convincing as an insomniac whose name we never actually find out. A human doormat for his boss at work with a life that’s going nowhere fast, safe for ordering the latest range of Ikea furniture. This is perhaps even more impressive considering it was only a year previously that we’d seen Norton in full on muscle bound Nazi mode in the wince-inducing movie masterpiece, American History X. A role that earned him a second Oscar nomination and rightly so. In Fight Club, his monotone narrative gives you a real sense of how truly bored of life his character really is. That is of course until he meets Tyler…
Tyler Durden is one of my all time favourite movie characters. He does and says the things the rest of us are all afraid to. ‘Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.’ Some wise words right there. In fact most of what Tyler says and does will make your jaw drop. Then of course there’s his wardrobe. So incredibly bad taste that it’s painfully cool. Perhaps helped along slightly by Brad Pitt’s genetically blessed physique. Hey, there aren’t many who can pull off a coffee mug patterned bathrobe teamed with yellow rubber gloves, I’m sure.
Then there’s Helena Bonham-Carter’s award winning interpretation of the dissolute, chain smoking, Marla Singer. Attending support groups for the terminally with no real purpose other than to kill time, get free coffee and annoy the heck out of Norton’s character. We all know HB-C can put on a show, particularly in darker roles but here she truly shines. I think it’s fair to say that no other actress could have pulled off Marla quite like Bonham-Carter.
It’s this bizarre threesome partnered with Fincher’s direction and not forgetting that sucker punch of a twist that makes Fight Club one of my best loved movies. If by any chance you haven’t had the pleasure already, I urge you to watch this movie. Just make it quick. To quote The Narrator, ‘This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time.’
Fight Club 5/5
I’m a big Jeremy Piven fan. He’s one of those Hollywood actors who has made a career out of being the sidekick and co star. To many, he’s ‘The Guy From Entourage’ and has a CV as long as your arm but you’d be hard pushed to find him in a leading role. A travesty as far as I’m concerned because he always gives good. Always. He first caught my eye in the tongue in cheek thriller Very Bad Things as the accidental hooker murdering member of Jon Favreau’s stag party. He’s equally as impressive here in Smokin’ Aces where Piven plays the guy they all wanna pull the trigger on. You see, this washed up Las Vegas magician has made the rather hefty mistake of making his mouth go about what the mob has been getting up to and now everyone from Alicia Keys’ leather clad, lady loving assassin to Joel Edgerton’s number one hit man want to get up close and personal with our friend JP.
The cast list is enough to make any film buff go weak at the knees. From Ray Liotta to Ryan Reynolds, they’re all in there and on fine form too. The fact that the whole adrenaline fueled thrill ride is set in the sweltering surroundings of the Nevada desert and the bright lights of Sin City only adds to the enjoyment.
Smokin’ Aces is a fun movie that packs a real punch with some great performances from a star studded cast. Action packed and not for the faint at heart. 3/5
Smokin’ Aces - Thursday at 11:30 on ITV4.