Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Obligatory "What I Got For Christmas" Post

Ah Christmas, that annual time where most people celebrate that snowballing mish-mash of traditions and joy, and get given a bunch of stuff from friends and family, as well as giving back to them in a gracious show of love. Now, of course, the question on everyone's lips is obviously, "What did you get, Arnold?", because that's how god-damn inspirational I am to the world. Well alright, if you insist then... Don't worry though, I'm not going to start talking about all the pairs of socks I was given, no matter how awesome they were. Just significant, perhaps more exciting gifts, the majority with a hint of my absolute nerdiness.

Here are some awesome tile coasters, via my lovely Sister, each with a nice little nod to certain pop-cult entities. Left: Castle reference, Right: Superman/Smallville reference. 
A tidy set of Blu-Rays, featuring the coveted Star Wars set.
Some shiny brown work boots, just 'cause. 
Halo: Anniversary, and Assassins Creed: Revelations: Because no Holiday is complete without a fair share of video games.
A couple books, both with the Comic book industry in mind. On the left we have Grant Morrison's documentation of the world through superheroes and panels (signed, of course), and on the right, a visual commentary on the timeline of Marvel. 
A very pretty letter opener (because I suck at doing it with my hands), with an awesome Limited Edition Supes theme going on. 
Another sweet Superman thing: This huge canvas will look epic on my wall.
Writer/Actor/Comedian Alan Davies' new part auto-biography, part "talk about people he is inspired by" book. 
3 Graphic Novels, 2 of which changed the face of the industry forever (The Dark Knight Returns and The Sandman), while Old Man Logan is just too awesome. The quilt cover they rest on was also a present.
My highly-anticipated Jayne Hat, straight outta Firefly, complete with replica box and letter. "How's it sit?  Pretty cunning, don't you think?"
And the "I wonder what this could be used for" Blue Yeti USB microphone, for all my vocal and musical needs. Seen here accompanied by my new "We're not fancy, but we still rock" JVC headphones. Unlike me, who's always fancy. (Each gifted separately)
'Course, this is just a taster of all the awesome shizzle I got this year, because I don't think it's safe to expose your minds to the actual level of generosity that I was granted by my family. So thanks to all of you who were silly enough to spend unheard of riches on my humbled, yet grateful self. 'Tis a kindness, truly. Most of what you see here is from my Mum, Sister and Dad, so big, big props to them, and I hope you too were gifted such nice products of materialistic properties. "And a Happy New Year".


Friday, 23 December 2011


Well it looks like, in just under a year, Dude Meister Blogs reached 10,000 views. And boy am I proud! On the 9th of January, I had no idea that I'd be starting out a blog that would reach such value (at least to me, sentimentally). And while there are hundreds of sites, doing what I do, that get that in mere hours, I'm still overwhelmingly happy with how far I've come. So thanks to those who've clicked on the countless, cheesy links I throw on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks to those who've given me even the slightest of publicity (HUSBANDS! and JANE ESPENSON!). Thanks to all those rather disturbed individuals who've been led to my site after Googling camel penis 88 times. Thanks to the random people that stumbled upon this by accident, and either fallen in love or left immediately (the latter seems more likely). However you've found yourself here, I am grateful for it. And thus, I shall endeavour to continue, finding all new and awesome ways to write stuff and have it read, seen, glanced, or glimpsed by you.

Thanks everyone.

Arnold Thornton-Rice

And although we didn't manage to get a 10,000 hit screen-shot, this 10,001 still gives some credit, courtesy of Nick Townsend, who is believed to be the 10,000 hitter at 19:44 GMT. Or as he's better known (Read: forced this upon me.) "That really awesome dude, and I wouldn't be here without hit" - His exact words (mistake included), not mine. 

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

RE:Commend: Qwertee.com

This is one I'm holding out for: Mal Solo!
Qwertee.com is a fresh new take on a traditional T-Shirt web-store, combining community choice with shirts designed by the community itself. It's simple. First, people can submit a T-Shirt design (based on Pop-Culture and Geekdom, generally) using the on-site creator, with a 4-colour limit in mind. Next these get approved and put on the site, for the whole world to see. People with a free-account can then vote on shirts, and the ones with the most will get printed. However, it's not always the shirt with the highest votes that get printed, but instead they are chosen by a team who make sure to mix it up in terms of what's on the shirts. One day it could be Dr Who related, the next a Game of Thrones reference, and the next a Star Wars icon.

   But, of course, there's a catch.  The selected shirt will only be available for 48 hours, after which it will be gone... Forever! But at only £8 a tee, you really can't complain with this time limit, and it gives a certain level of exclusivity to the proud owners, such as moi, in my very suave "Infant Mutant Ninja Turtles" tee from Qwertee:

Yep, I've got arms. Just.
 The best part though, is that Qwertee is primarily a UK store, providing a handy alternative for the humourous pop-cult shirts seen on US store, thinkgeek.com. If you're quick enough, that is. There's also tons of chances to win free tees through their newsletter and Facebook, and once in a while they'll do a bundle sale for all the unsold shirts, where for £6 you'll get a random one from the weeks before. So next time you're looking for that killer, yet subtle tee of geekery, look no further than qwertee.com, and if you're creative enough, why not try designing some for yourself.


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Trailer Tuesday: The Dark Knight Rises (Trailer 2)

After the arguably cruel tease of the trailer for Nolan's third and final Batman outing earlier this Summer, a new, officially full trailer has arrived. Prepare to get goosebumps, people, this is one heck of an intense trailer. But first, a synopsis, for the less acquainted with the story:

"Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the terrorist leader Bane arrives in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman (Christian Bale) to resurface after taking the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes." - IMDb
Dim the lights, mute the TV and put down the phone. This just got interesting:
(Turn off annotations if you can)

  • 0:21 - Michael Caine's Alfred gets all choked up over Bruce's care. I guess letting him dress up as a bat and risk his life every night isn't strictly speaking "protecting him". 
  • 0:27 - Significance of this shot? Well it's Gotham, but what I'm looking at is the Sunrise, because TDKR is actually going to be feature a lot of day time, unlike the previous two instalments. 
  • 0:39 - "Peace Time" looks to be a prominent theme for the film, somewhat insinuating that it is in fact Batman himself that brings about chaos and crime a la The Joker. This is 8 years after The Dark Knight, remember. 
And here she is in full thieving gear
  • 0:43 - Finally! We get our first look at Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. While not in full thieving gear here, that masquerade mask and ears certainly does elude to a more classic Catwoman look. And her warnings of things to come definitely sounds suspicious: is she in league with Bane? 
  •  0:56 - Is this the Wayne mansion being torn down by ruthless mobs, possibly Bane's mercenaries? And he just got that place refurbished!
  • 1:02 - What I just want to say about the quote here, "You're all going to wonder how you could live so large, and leave so little for the rest of us", is that it may have some very political subtext. While this can be applied to Batman, it could be before Selina knows that Bruce is Batman. So is she talking instead about Capitalism and the unfairness of the rich, economic inequality? After all, her words are paired with a suited up, business type man being dragged from under a table, and these times certainly are relevant for it. I wouldn't put it past Nolan's genius to subtly incorporate such a poignant theme into the works, especially as the rest of the series has taken such a mature approach. 
  • 1:06 - Prison break, or as this trailer analogises: All Hell Breaks Lose. And I swear they're chanting "This is awesome, awesome!" (More on that chant later). Anyway, I presume this is Blackgate Prison, not Arkham Asylum, for those of you familiar with the Batman Universe.
Ra's in Pit
  • 1:14 - Now this place has me stumped. Lots of stone stairs with people in robes on them? And Bruce  has a beard and is in a similar get-up? My best guess: this is to do with Ra's al Ghul, Batman Begins villain, played by Liam Neeson. It may be set during those days too, when Bruce trained with him, but that's only speculation based on his beard. Anyway, Ra's is notorious in the comics for coming back from the dead, due to something called the Lazarus Pit, which heals anyone dipped in to its chemical depths. So, while the chant is still presumably going on here, Bruce's companion (is that Alfred?) tells us that it means "Rise". Now what I'm suggesting is that it's saying "Rise" as in "From the Lazarus Pit". Still following? One Lazarus Pit in the comics was in the Himalayas, where people wear those kind of robes, so...  Now take in to account the fact that there will be a flashback scene of a young Ra's, which I reckon could be him discovering the Pits, and that Liam Neeson may be doing a cameo appearance, and what do you get? Awesome, that's what. If this is true, it'll be exciting to see how Nolan does the whole "Pits of restoration thing", seeing as his films have always been sunk so deep into a gritty reality.
  • 1:24 - Here we have an example of the kind of terrorism we can expect from Tom Hardy's Bane. Ra's destroyed transport systems, The Joker blew up health care systems and now Bane looks to be taking on the sport and entertainment district. Goodbye football field... Hello terror. 
  • 1:34 - Bane (to a beat up Bruce): When Gotham is in ashes, you'll have my permission to die. - Making the hero watch as everything they've worked for falls apart - that's classy villainy if you ask me.
  • 1:36 - Marion Cotillard reveals her pretty face as Wayne Enterprises board member, Miranda Tate. While speculation did run wild that this would in fact turn out to be Talia al Ghul (Ra's' Daughter), Cotillard has promised that her character is "a completely new creation". 
  • 1:42 - Is this an assault on the "supposed" pit from earlier? We see wired up assailants drop further past the steps later on at  1:49 too. 
  • 1:43 - Joseph Gordon-Levitt appears briefly busting through some doors, as John Blake (again a newbie character). He's been described as  "a Gotham City beat cop assigned to special duty under the command of Commissioner Gordon.". What I really want though is to see his character take up the mantle, in some way, shape or form, from Batman, if he really does die/get defeated by the end of all this. It's big dreaming, but I just think JGL is such an awesome actor/guy. 
  • 1:44-1:48 - Massive riots are set to take place in Gotham this time around, as these shots prove. Batman's going to be going head to head with Bane here, promising the greatest physical challenge for Bats yet. Also seen is a tank firing into the riots (and at maybe a bank?), which I believe is one of Bane's as it has been revealed that he owns a few tumblers much like Batman's Batmobile. Another interesting point is that this was filmed in Manhattan, right when all the Occupy Wall Street protests were going down. I can just smell the metaphor!
Shit storm walking...
  • 1:50 - Trying to hold it together now, while geeking out insanely at this shot. Yep that's the Batplane, tailing one of Bane's tumbler. We don't know for certain whether it is actually Batman piloting, as it has been leaked that Catwoman has some fun in that at one point...
  • 1:58 - And as that title hits, we're all reminded that the amazing Hans Zimmer will be scoring this undoubted masterpiece. Prepare for horns. Many, many horns. 
  • 2:04 - Summer 2012. IMAX. July 20th. Be there!
Before I pass out with excitement, I'd just like to say that I think this will be perfect (in case this wasn't already clear). A lot of people have been saying they think it'll suck just because of the "Rule of 3" thing with Superhero movies (the 3rd is always a let down. See: Spiderman 3, X-Men 3, Superman 3), but I mean come on! Have a little faith in Nolan, will you! This is the same guy that brought you Inception. I now I can often be over-optimistic about forthcoming films, but this one has 0% doubt, positively. It may have a lot to live up to with The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger, but this is a seriously talented cast and crew that can surely pull this off. Roll on 2012, I say. 


Monday, 19 December 2011

What The Fridge?!: Week 10

The whats have been keeping away from the fridges lately, but that's all about to change thanks to this hidden gem. Promising state of the art visual effects, and top notch, Oscar winning performances, I give you 2016: A Ghana Movie.

James Cameron: Eat your heart out!
Darn, it's only limited to a Ghana release... What a shame, that could have been such a classic in UK cinemas. I guess we're just not worthy of such a movie.


Sunday, 18 December 2011

Philosophical Phinking: The Truth of Truths

Recently, I've been considering a lot for stuff about my views of the world. Stuff like: why/how do we exist? Is there a god? How do we know that science is true? Yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. And so on, and so forth until my brain hurts. But it's weird, thinking stuff like this. It fills you up with this strange sensation of nausea and excitement; the wonder at whether what you're pondering is either fascinatingly genius, or dangerously psychotic. In the end, it leaves you with both a worrying paranoia about the "point" of it all, and a satisfying shot of intelligence. The problem comes with distinguishing one from the other, much like the ol' "red wire or blue wire" debate in that arduous task of defusing a bomb (I'm sure you've all been there).

   What I'm struggling with though, is trying to define what exactly it is I think. But then it is hard to pin down the exact thoughts I have. I don't reject God, yet I don't accept him. Surely that makes me Agnostic, right? But then I think of how I'm mostly on the side of rejection than faith, and how it's not God per se, but maybe just some "Higher Being(s)". However, upon deeper thought, I don't think we'll ever know what makes the pure idea of living, as humans, which points toward something called Absurdism: to believe that it is humanly impossible for us to ever understand the meaning of life, as such. Perhaps life is humans, is what my mind now leans to, promoting a Humanist philosophy within me. Are we responsible for giving our own lives meaning? Because that question leads down a very long, very confusing road known as Existentialism.

 And from there, well then anything is possible, as long as you give it the thought. I could be the only real person, with everyone else just created to service the path I've been given within this sole, central universe. We could all be figments of each other's imaginations, we could all be living inside a tiny hologram of the universe, we could all be dead, passing onto the next stage. One radical idea a friend suggested to me, was that we are all one person, who - despite the billions of paradoxes it would create - is just going back in time after each life to live within another person, with no memory of the life before. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, completely insane, and utterly bat-crap crazy, I understand that. But how do you know? Surely everything we currently believe is just based on a single idea, no matter how ludicrous, and has slowly expanded over time to the point of almost pure international truth.

    Take our current views on chemistry and physics. We're not certain of these, they aren't the absolute truth of why the universe is like that. They are, instead, just the human truth of it, until something else comes along to change that. Take religion, any kind you like. Now think about 1000 years ago, where literally everyone believed in a deity of some kind, and imagine trying to explain science. You'd be laughed at, for sure. And in 1000 years from now, when science has advanced or something entirely new has come along, they may laugh at every single fact we think we have procured today. What I'm saying is that, despite whatever, there is no truth: everything is just Human understanding and the evolution of that.

  Numbers are another great example. The way people believe that the 21/12/12 will be the end of the world, just because the Mayans wrote it down. But the Universe does not submit to numbers, because ultimately that's all they are. But it is not the opposite either, because it is only Humans that numbers submit to; no more, no less. There could be alien races that have entirely different number systems, countless variations of counting, infinite possibilities of infinity. The world still works and moves forward (as we currently believe), no matter if we have clocks or not.
The exit is to your mind...

       In the end, you just need to ask yourself what your truth is, what you want to keep as personal truth, just so we don't all kill ourselves from curiosity and the prospect that death equals answers. It's confusing and vast and mad and, often, too much, but the real truth is your own, regardless. After all, belief is just what we give as an answer to life, to tide us over for our time in this universe. It keeps us sane, it keeps us right and above all it keeps us Human. No one can take away truth, meaning or reality from anyone else, because it is true to them, so what's the point wasting life away attempting to disprove something that's only created to get through life. Everything is true, nothing can totally, honestly, really be disproved, as long as it lives inside someone's belief.

So, technically, my Philosophy is what I want. I don't need to put a label on it like it's some kind of cheesy, High School drama. Facebook may ask for just one "Philosophy or Belief" on my profile, but I know there is  so much more to that. So I guess, when the Sun finally sets on our short times upon this world, we will go out with the truth that is our own personalised truth. Be it what it is, at least it was your Human truth.

And that my friends, is my Philosophy.


Wednesday, 14 December 2011

RE:View: Community: Season 1

After 2 whole years of the US hogging hilarious comedy series, Community, the show's first season has finally been released in the UK. The saddest thing about it, however, is how little attention has been paid to the series, which takes place in fictional community college, Greendale. You see, across the pond here, the 25 episodes were only ever aired on VIVA, a channel located in the 'Music' section of most digital providers. Hence: no one has seen it.

The Show

  Boasting a large array of unique characters, which dynamic from one another drastically (from race to age), Community brings us Jeff Winger (Joel McHale), an ex-lawyer who now has to redo a degree in order to get his lawyering license back. He's brash, narcissistic and pretty much a douche-bag. Some of that changes, however, when he meets his new study group, who he's going to have to learn to love to get through the hell that is Greendale Community College. Thus, Community is born.

Enter Abed, Britta, Troy, Annie, Shirley and of course, the obnoxious Pierce (Chevy Chase). Together with Jeff, they form 7 very different characters and personalities, which cultivate into the ultimate clash of culture. The outcome: pure win. Every single one of them melds so well with each other, whether it be the dumb Jock, Troy, pop-cult messiah, Abed, religious Mom, Shirley, or even the cutesy "We Must Not Sexualise Her" Annie.

And it's through this group that we experience the eccentricities of Community, providing us with a completely unpredictable episode every time, whereby one time the gang could be holding a protest and the next could just be a parody of multiple movies. Quirky, quick and quippy comes the humour, in all manor of form. Donald Glover (who plays Troy) proves to be a great physical comedian, improvising lines and doing the goofiest of expressions, while the idiosyncratic Abed gives the show this meta-flair, full of self-referential jokes and pop-cult intricacies that stands it aside from other, more self contained shows, planting Community firmly in the post-modern world with these tongue-in-cheek sensibilities.

While we do occasionally fall into soap-like love tangles, they usually resolve themselves, aided by the fact that the script literally acknowledges its own misguidances in the aforementioned meta-humour way. Character development works much the same way, with a general unease about Jeff's likeability vs douchability, and the saga that is his love interest, Britta, and how her character goes through so many motions. But of course, this was just the first season, so the finding of feet is expected, even if it is a bit bumpy.

What's not bumpy though, is the supporting cast outside of the main group. The Hangover's Ken Jeong plays the zany (as you would expect) Spanish teacher for the study group, Senior Chang, and brings his trademark hilarity (through ad lib and physicality) in spades. And then there's the flamboyant Dean Pelton, ravishingly portrayed by Jim Rash, who has this obscene amount of campness which gives the show yet another layer of laugh-out-loud-ness. Heck, Jack Black even drops by for one episode, and makes one of the funniest TV scenes I've ever witnessed.

Racial sensitivity is forgotten and thrown away in favour of this metro-humouristic way of comedy - aka; no one cares about it. Which really stands to another point of Community's genius, by letting go of society's discrepancies and serving itself as a point of moral code. It's not like this to a point of offence, because the voices are of the light-hearted characters (mostly old-man Pierce), not the writers themselves, so the lee-way is given and allows the viewer to just enjoy the diverse cast and comedy on offer.

There are plenty of giggle-till-it-hurts moments, WTF moments (the greatest of which are usually the Troy and Abed shorts at the end of each episode), "Awhhh" moments, "Aha, I get the reference" moments and I guarantee that 90% of the time, you'll have a huge grin on your face while watching. It may take a few episodes to properly get in to it, but once you do, you'll love these characters and won't want to stop watching.

4.5/5 Stars

The Extras

As if the price of the box set wan't worth it for the episodes alone, there's also tons of add ons to compliment the ultimate Community experience. Not least of these is the fact that there is a commentary for each and every episode, providing those with the initiative to listen a charming little insight. While not particularly anything of substantial depth, they're fun enough to at least sit through a couple, with the majority featuring series creator Dan Harmon and at least a couple members of the lead cast.

  Then there is the gut-achingly funny out-takes on each disk (of 4) for their respective episodes, which often show the improv that goes on, especially with Donald, Joel, Chevy and Ken. Jammed in between all this is also some mini-episodes (3 ninety second shorts), a highlight reel (best bits), a rather dry "Cast Evaluations" segment, and the strangely humourous "Creative Compromises" featurette. All in all, it just adds longevity to an already great package.
4/5 Stars

So with all this awesome from Community, it really is a wonder why no major UK network has picked it up. The way I see it, it sits in the same slot as Scrubs did (quirky humour), and so surely E4 should have given it a look. Anyway, despite Television's neglect of it, you can still thoroughly enjoy this gem of a box set, and just hope that it gets the much deserved main stream British TV service soon.

Show: 4.5 Stars
Extras: 4 Stars

Stand-Out Episodes: "Spanish 101", "Introduction to Statistics", "Comparative Religion", "Investigative Journalism", "Contempary American Poultry" (literally a love letter to Goodfellas and The Godfather) and "Modern Warfare" (one of the best twenty-one minutes of television - EVER).

And this:


Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Sunday Supdate: 11/12/2011

Ah, Supdate, your aroma is but a distant memory of my past - one which has long since drifted from the metaphorical air, only to be cast down unto us once more. Not since October have you poked your head out from underneath the mass of reviews, news and awesome, and so I call upon you once more! You know, to talk and stuff...

But What To Talk About?
Well, now that's a tricky one. How about all the reviews I've done recently? Pretty hectic, seeing as things on the critical front had slowed substantially. Now I'm whacking out the TV RE:Views (Community S1 incoming!) like it's nobody's business. Except it is... A lot of people's actually. Maybe even mine someday! Anyway, so that's cool. Also: 9000 hits! Squeee!

Are You  Mocking Me?
Last week was pretty bombed out due to my Mock GCSE exams. Word from the wise: they're not fun. What's even less fun though is the fact that I have real ones after Christmas; literally the second week of January. What's up with that?! That means that precious week off that I have after Christmas will be spent revising... Bleh.

Wait, Did You Say Christmas?
Oh right, amid my ranting there was mention of the "Most Wonderful Time of The Year". Of course, Christmas is around the corner, so perhaps I'll do a couple Christmas posts before the big day. I have no idea what I'll talk about, but you'll have to wait and see. Other than that, Christmas-wise, I'll try and post some stuff about my own i.e. what I got, what I'm going to do with what I got and why you should get what I got too. Plus I'll capture Santa for an interview, and hold a live blog-auction (blauction?) for his reindeer and sleigh.

Isn't That Guy From Scrubs in a Play Soon?
So here's something pretty awesome: Zach Braff (yeah, that guy from Scrubs) has written his own play, "All New People", which ran on Broadway earlier this year and is now coming to London in 2012. The best part: Zach's going to be starring in it (he didn't in New York) and I've got second row seats! The even bester part is that after the show, I'll be hanging around stage door to procure a picture with JD himself. I'm not sure whether I'm more excited for the show, or the chance to get a photo with him... Hell, I may even ask to "Eagle" with him. Disclaimer: Not Sexual.

A Short Film, You Say?
Over the past 6 months in my Media class, a group of friends and I have been making our own short film. It's called "Facehook" (play on words = win), and it's a friendly tale of how paedophiles exploit social networking sites for their "Immoral Pleasures".  No, I'm not kidding. Dark, a little twisted and slightly unsettling, you can expect a masterful piece of film, from a talented cast and crew of 15 year olds. I acted as more of the writer (duh)/director/editor guy, (as my vlogs have more than proven that the screen is not where I belong), and you can expect to appear here before the year is out. That is, of course, as long as I manage to upload it from DVD. Just don't expect an Oscar winning piece (not yet anyway).  Fingers crossed for no copyright infringement! *cough*TheSocialNetworkSoundtrack*cough*

You Done?
That just about raps it up here, so to sing us out is OneRepublic, with their new Christmas song, "Christmas Without You". Available for download now, folks:


Hey, Wait! What's This?

Shhhhh... Spoilers...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

RE:View: Firefly: The Complete Series Blu-Ray

Ah Firefly, the gleaming gem in a forest of blackened crystals, whose searing brilliance was extinguished long before its time. Often considered the greatest sci-fi television series ever, and often true in that statement, Firefly become a pop-culture phenomenon after its premature cancellation in 2003, and set itself deeply into every geek guy and girl's hearts who were lucky enough to glance upon it.

    So when I first picked up the series (of which there are but 14 episodes) on DVD back in April of this year, I had some high hopes. Now, 8 months later, I don't think a day goes by where I don't spare at least one thought to the show. It is that amazing. So when the Blu-Ray was finally released in the UK, I was lucky enough to win myself a copy.

The Show

Created by TV legend Joss Whedon, Firefly is a genre-bending experience, blending that of the classic sci-fi conventions with a scruffy Western feel to bring us something entirely unique. It takes place five hundred years in the future, where a totalitarian regime known as the Alliance rules the systems as a combination of both America and China. The show follows the escapades of the crew of Serenity, a Firefly-class vessel as they drift through space looking for work (legal or not) to keep food on the table and fuel in their engines.

    Scattered with layered and deep characters (some of which are the best I've ever seen), choc-full of witty dialogue and intelligent scripting, yet still shiny in the special effects, Firefly presents you with a realistic science fiction world, in which our "Big Damn Heroes" aren't always winning. It's this honesty and relatability that gives the show its edge that has carried it in such high regard after all these years. It kick-started literally everyone in the extremely talented cast into pretty big careers, namely Nathan Fillion, who's now regarded as a God of Geekdom.

So without further a-do, I obviously present the show with:
5/5 Stars

The Quality

Of course, this is a Blu-Ray upgrade, and so I must also cast an eye on how the new and improved picture and sound matches up. Putting the show in 1080p was always a bit risky with the fan base, who adored the classic roughness the show had pertained with its grains and flares. Luckily though, this charm still remains, but the whole thing just looks a lot crisper. We don't peer at all into what I like to call "Mexican-Soap-Opera" territory (whereby the HD makes the program look cheap), and instead are rewarded with a sharp, detailed and colour popping viewing experience of Captain Mal and his Crew. And those shots of Serenity - in 1080p - are to die for. The only issue I had with the picture was when there were really dark scenes (namely the battle of Serenity, in the first episode), and it became almost squint worthy to get what was going on.

   The sound, now in 5.1 audio is obviously a vast improvement on the DVD's tinned noise. While volume may be a problem with this (i.e. effects too loud over voice), and some SFX still sounding cheesy as hell (*Kapow!* for punch!), the thing that makes up for it most is Greg Edmonson's rich and culturally bizarre score. The stuff is like gold dust to the ears - banjos, violins, big round drum thingys - you name it, it's in there, and it sounds great.
All in all, I'd give the quality:

4/5 Stars

The Extras

A blu re-release always means one thing for sure, and that's new special features. Building upon the DVD's bonuses (which included a few short featurettes, 4 deleted scenes, gag reel, 7 commentaries and a few goodies), is a new commentary track (on Our Mrs Reynolds) featuring Joss and literally half the cast (it's mostly them laughing for 40 minutes, but still fun) and a half hour "Reunion Lunch" with Joss, Nathan, Ron and Alan. Both new features are worth the watch, almost purely because they were recorded over 5 years after the show's original 2003 run, so there's a lot of hindsight and reminisce. They also talk about Monster Cows and how there should have been an episode where someone's hands expand...

More Firefly stuff obviously equals more awesome, but only 2 added things is slightly lacking compared to how some re-releases work. Paired with the original extras, this is easily 5 Star (mostly down to the insightful commentaries alone), but as the bonuses on top alone I'm only going to say...:

3.5/5 Stars

If you own a Blu-Ray and are a Firefly fan (or Browncoat), then it is literally your duty to go out and buy this, even if it's for the picture upgrade alone. Fans without a Blu-Player, I'd say that this isn't your sole reason to get one, because even though the new stuff is cool, it's not quite worth that much, especially if you're not too interested in commentaries or behind-the-scenes stuff. And those who've never seen Firefly, well shame on you! Go out and at least pick up the DVD and experience this most tasty of TV shows. 

Show: 5 Star
Quality: 4 Star
Extras: 3.5 Star

Stand-Out Episodes: "Serenity", "Shindig", "Out of Gas", "Ariel", "The Message" and "Objects in Space".


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Trailer Tuesday: The Cabin in The Woods

You think you know the trailer...
A mind bending poster of cabin-rubix cube!
Why of course, a cabin in the woods, a group of young people looking for fun and then some gruesome, violent and meaningless deaths, right? Well, with this new Horror film, we might just see those cheesy conventions be ripped apart in the genre bending (and aptly named) The Cabin in The Woods. 
"A group of friends at a cabin retreat scratch the surface of something so massive and horrific that they can only begin to fathom it as time quickly runs out." - IMDb
Starring Thor's Chris Hemsworth and a cast of "I recognise but can't name 'ems", Cabin is set to be the freaky film for 2012, with Cloverfield writer Drew Goddard directing, and co-writing with the almighty force that is Joss Whedon. Enjoy/Pee your Pants:  

So as we can see, it starts off in some pretty familiar territory for the slasher/horror setup ("Yeah, road trip!", Creepy Old Man, derelict cabin etc.) until we get to about 1:00 when we see something else in play here. I'm sensing some Sci-Fi elements getting involved, with this mysterious force field malarkey. Then there's a lot of thriller type stuff with those surveillance rigs and lever-pulls, suggesting  somewhat of a conspiracy going on.

   To me it looks like someone behind all this crazy stuff is pulling the strings and essentially building their own horror movie. Gas is being sent in to make them resort to stereotypical (and illogical) decisions (Let's split up!) and freaks are coming out of nowhere with lots of slice and slash. Could this be a Jigsaw type of deal, a la Saw, but on a larger and more intellectual scale? Those masked people, the swat teams, a facet of flowing blood; what the hell is going on here!?

Guess the only way to find out is see the god-damn movie when it kicks off in the UK on Friday the 13th (Yikes!) of April, 2012. Now I'm not usually a horror guy, but this is definitely a must watch for me: partly because of Whedon's involvement and partly because of the inevitable genre-deconstructions in place. Here's wishing for a 15 rating!


Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Occupy: My Mind

So all the commotion of Occupy Wall Street and, more recently, Occupy LA have got me a'thinking. After over 200 arrests made last night during the LAPD raid of the downtown protests, and plentiful more over in NYC, what are we actually learning from all this? Are the police just making things worst by making arrests and potentially sticking up for the "1%"? Or does this whole thing need to be put to bed now, because let's be honest, nothing's really happening.

That has got to win  the Best Sign of the Protest award.
  But then again that is an unfair statement in itself because things are happening. People are watching and hearing and understanding these people -- their motives, their drives, their mission. Every time the press get turned away from reporting, it just becomes more and more sickening. The mere fact that I'm writing a piece considering the issue proves that it's on my thoughts. The result may not be change (not immediately anyway), but instead mere thought; a message to the people. A single message, containing a single idea that just needs to be planted (Inception style) into the international population's head: We are not happy.

  And if it is how they say, that they are "The 99%" then shouldn't that include you and me as well. I'm not saying go pitch and tent and yell at bankers for weeks, but I'm saying you should at least spare it the thought. Surely no one appreciates the economic imbalance and corporate greed that plagues the western world's society. Because this isn't just an issue for a niche audience, like protesting for animal rights or for Firefly to come back on TV: this is money we're talking about. And without money, there is no structure, and with no structure there is no world.

Pictured: Misdirection
  So you begin to understand the importance of merely passing the subject across your mind. And then you begin to understand why it's kind of a big deal. And then you begin to wonder why it hasn't been given much coverage across the pond to our humble abode of the UK. While there has been a few unwashed folk camping out by St Paul's Cathedral in London, we're not getting half the response America has had. Our guys haven't even thought it through; you're campaigning against economic unfairness yet you choose a church to place your stakes? Nice going guys...

 But that is beside the point, because the real issue is that we are only being fed fragmented pieces of the story from our US buddies. Go ahead, go watch a news channel or read a UK news site. What do you find? The small print, identified as an unimportant story, even in international news. Some reading this may have no clue what I'm even talking about. The only way to get at it is through hunting the web space, which to some is too much effort and to others just plain unheard of. And it is this kind of, dare I say, censorship that is making us question the insecurity of  our news outlets and governments.

  It's fair enough for them to be a little paranoid after the looting and riots of this past Summer, but you can't help but beg the question of whether they are worried about what that level of peaceful protest could do to their institutions. After all, who knows the British public better than those who have to watch them everyday and who, more than anyone, needs to keep the equilibrium than those who have to serve it. This could very well be a pure example of the 1% in action...

So although we may not agree with everything that Occupy Wherever suggests, it should be at least rudimentary to process the ideals it is promoting to decide your stance on the argument. After all, odds are you're classed as the 99%...

Vote on the poll to the right to have your say on all things Occupy!

Enjoy learning about economic inequality? Then maybe check out the In Time Review!


Thursday, 24 November 2011

RE:View: In Time

Time is a valuable thing, no matter how you spin it. It could be spent watching movies, much like sci-fi/action flick, In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. Alternatively it could be spent reading reviews, much like this one. Or even, it could be spent protesting against corporate greed, much like the recent Occupy Wall Street campaign sweeping over the world. Because if In Time doesn't soar in some aspects, it certainly makes up for it in relevancy, giving us a tale that speaks volumes of social and economic inequality in a time that reeks of the stuff.

Taking place in an undisclosed point in the future, In Time has one very central idea; time is money. People are bio-engineered to stop ageing post-25, and instead must rely on how much time there is left on their forearm's ticker until they kick the bucket. But while some of the world live in poverty (whereby absolute poverty = sure death), the upper classes coast by with a potential of immortality. But one man defies that lifestyle, after being framed for murder. And he, along with gal-pal Sylvia, will stop at nothing to tear down the rotten system and give hope to the struggling people.

When everyone is 25, who can tell between mother, wife or daughter?
 That man is Will Salas, played by none other than pop-superstar Justin Timberlake. Still fresh from his sudden change of career paths, Timberlake gives a solid performance that (while not quite a match for his smart and smooth delivery in The Social Network) proves further his place in today's Hollywood scene. After a slight weak patch in the introductory slum scenes, Timberlake comes into his own with action, romance and emotion as we see Will's journey to truly "stick it to the man", taking him on risky poker games, car chases and lots and lots of running.

Sexy Back: a predictable couple, but gorgeous none-the-less.
So it's a good job his running mate, Amanda Seyfried, is also on par, giving us the naive rich girl, Sylvia Weis, as she comes to terms with the fact her lifestyle really might be superficial. The contrast of their characters gives the narrative a neat dynamic of opposites attracting and an obvious romantic element that works, despite the predictability, while they work together as a futuristic Bonnie and Clyde/Robin Hood. Then Cillian Murphy pulls off a great show with his head TimeKeeper role, (a cop) managing to really embody a 50 year old man in a 25 year old's body, through tone and movement with his deadpan way.

The setting and ideas involved are really unique, and will keep you interested despite the numerous plot holes and continuity errors that pop up. It's good to see an entirely fresh and independent story hit our screens for once, as opposed to the wave of adaptations, reboots and true-stories recently, so kudos to writer/director Andrew Niccol. Could you just imagine, a world where time is your money? Haunting, deep and somehow eerily believable despite its ridiculousness.

Released at any other time, In Time may not have been as poignant, being seen as merely some science fiction fun with a fast pace and neat scripting. However, as mentioned, in these times of economic imbalance the film stands for a lot more, even going to the extent of a near-social commentary of a film. Whether this was pure coincidence or an intention of Niccol's (who previously wrote The Truman Show) is unknown, but it sure gives it a relatable and intelligible edge that it may have lacked otherwise.

There still remains a plethitude of minor nuances to be found, such as a weak sub-plot, loose ends that never get fully established and an ending quite unfit to the rest of the tone. A couple things get dusted off in cheap ways, which seem like a harsh rushed way of finishing for certain parts and some directions don't quite justify themselves to full extent.

In Time is, above all things, a thought-provoking piece of cinema, blending a unique sci-fi plot with real world issues into a quick and punctual movie. It's got a real sense of independence, never borrowing from an identified source too long to be noticeable (although the nods to Logan's Run, Bonnie and Clyde etc are unavoidable) and when action picks up the pulse starts racing after some subtle subdued moments of tension. Slight niggles bring the overall quality down though and its running time of 109 minutes seems a little too generous.

Nevertheless, In Time is a film certainly worthy of your time, if just for the coolness of its plot and the significance of era-specific themes.
3.5/5 Stars

Monday, 21 November 2011

Trailer Tuesday: Snow White Showdown

You get 75 years of no Snow White and then TWO come at once!
Next year sees the arrival of not just one, but two Snow White films in our cinemas. And, as if begging for a back to back comparison, have both released trailers in the last few weeks. While one opts for action and maturity, the other goes for comedy and campness; but which is better? There's only one way to find out: FIGHT! Watch them one after the other and make your mind up, based upon your own views, preferences and analysis of the trailers! I go for option A, by the way.

Snow White and the Huntsman brings us a darker take on the classic tale, with Twilight's (ugh..) Kristen Stewart playing a hardened Snow, looking to bring battle to the Evil Queen (the glamorous Charlize Theron). Along the way she's teaming up with the Huntsman, (or Thor as most will know him with Chris Hemsworth) picking up the axe to kill stuff with the help of his Dwarf buddies (yeah, I think they're with him in this adaptation). Honestly, I like it. I think if I can get over the fact that it's Stewart playing it, I reckon we could have a really kick-ass Snow White on the cards. And the unique portrayal of the mirror looks awesome, while the Dwarves (just glimpsed) are going the LOTR route (not midgets, basically). Cool Stuff.

And now we have the complete opposite:

Mirror, Mirror enters the family/comedy territory with its charming new spin on the tale, splicing it in with elements from other fairy-tales (like Cinderella, Robin Hood). Relative unknown (unless you've seen Abduction, ugh...) Lily Collins takes on the role of Snow White here, with a more traditional characterisation. And who can miss Julia Roberts as the narcissistic Queen, who looks to be as Pantomime as they come, while Armie Hammer (The Social Network) lends his pretty boy looks to Prince Charming. I hear Sean Bean drops by at some point too, and a few recognisable Dwarves occupy their designated roles.
   Tarsem Singh (Immortals) directs, so at least we know it will look good. Hopefully that will make up for the flat falling jokes and cringe radiating from this trailer. "Snow way!"? Yikes. Julia... what are you doing?

Ah well. I guess we shall truly see which is The Fairest of Them All when they release next year:
Snow White and the Huntsman: June 1st
Mirror, Mirror: March 16th


Saturday, 19 November 2011

RE:View: Immortals

The hype based around Greek-mythology-action film Immortals was a tale of two halves. The first, with obvious reason, was whether this could be the natural successor to 2006's swords-and-sandals epic, 300, boasting a visual flair and some truly spectacular slow-mo fight sequences. The other buzz-inducing topic was its lead actor, Henry Cavill. The rising British born star (a relative unknown for most) will be donning the cape and tights for Zach Snyder's Man of Steel in 2013, and as such, Immortals was seen as a proving ground for the 28 year old, as to whether his performing prowess can lend itself to a believable and relatable Clark Kent. While they're both lofty asks, it's safe to say that Immortals does indeed deliver to a certain extent on either side.

   The story is straight forward enough, as it follows Greek hero Theseus (Cavill) on his journey to prevent the evil forces of Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, no less) from unleashing the God-forsaken (literally) Titans and bringing about war between the worlds of God and Man. Putting new spins on ancient legends along the way (such as the Minotaur), Theseus finds himself in love with a worshipped oracle (Freida Pinto), leading a mass army of men, and battling alongside the gods themselves.

The plot and story-telling, however, doesn't hold so strong against its epic prose. The script can be sloppy in places to the point where things get a little tedious, with the narrative feeling more like a scrapbook of bits and pieces, rather than a ravelling novel of grandeur. Sure, Theseus is out adventuring the lands, but there's a lot of to and fro between places, a back and forth cycle of sets and scenes.  And although they look great, thanks to the unique style of director Tarsem Singh, the golden back drops and luscious colour contrasts get tired because of these flaws, teasing the viewer with a fresh, even grander picture on the horizon, but never pulling through.

Visually Stunning
That's not to say that the art direction is sub-standard by any means. Singh has a definite vision throughout the film, which is evident in the richness of cinematography involved. Despite the repetitive discrepancies, we're given some bizarrely fantastic situations to look at that will resonate in the mind for a little while, be it a clash of golden-clad gods or the sight of blackened drenched heroes by the sea. Coupled with the mesmerising costume design, ranging from red, vibrant Indian gowns and gold, shining armours to the swathe of  the iron grey drab of Hyperion's menacingly masked army, and you've got a sure spectacle of a movie.

At its heart, of course, Immortals is an action film, taking no prisoners in its execution of blood, guts and gore, as warriors exchange blows and gods exchange mega-blows. Masterfully choreographed and beautifully shot, these battle sequences provide the movie's best moments - especially when gods get involved. Heads explode, flesh rips and screams fly; often in a show of awesome slow-mo. It may reverberate that of 300's unforgettable action scenes, but when it looks this spectacular and exciting, who can blame them?
May the best god win!
 But when we get outside of the action, the quality sags again. It's not that these parts aren't necessary, it's just they are staggeringly boring. Don't get me wrong, I hate pure action movies where the characters don't stop for a breather once in a while, but here it just doesn't flow so well. And its for one good reason; I don't particularly care about these people. The characters are never given enough chance to flesh themselves out, coming off with an alarming lack of depth. Theseus never questions "Why me?", we never really know why Hyperion is the evil bastard he is, and the attempts of humour by Theseus's newly befriended roguish thief fall flat because his personality is so one dimensional.

A small step...
  Regardless of the near transparency of his character, Cavill manages to pull off a decent performance, playing out emotions of anger, sorrow and determination confidently and fluently, especially in this selfless, leader-warrior role. His ability to perform well in action is an indication of his overall talent, proving himself worthy to be the next Son of Krypton as well as everyone's favourite Daily Planet reporter. Meanwhile Mickey Rourke gives us a frighteningly grim Hyperion, capable of the dirtiest of deeds thanks to his dedicated execution, and John Hurt drops by as the archetypical old man with his usual graceful ease.

If you just take Immortals as what it is - 110 minutes of action pumped, CGI prettiness - then you can't help but walk away from the cinema happy. Those hoping for a bit more depth and a journey into some deep mythology should look elsewhere, but at least stick around to check out Cavill's performance. 3D, once again, is a 'meh', but the look and feel of the thing is a rare breed entirely and one that can be admired for many a year.

It may not be winning awards any time soon, but at least it's not Clash of The Titans:
3/5 Stars

  Either way, I think Supes is in safe hands...