District 9: part-documentary about life in South Africa 20 years after aliens first landed on earth. This is an unbelievably fresh take on the alien/sci-fi movie and when you pair the idea with such outstanding graphics, the film looks and feels a thousand times more real and believable than the clichéd outer-space bloodbath. Despite his radical transformation, the acting – pretty much one guy – is very good, and remains believable. It’s quite messy, but the blood, gore and black comedy makes this feel more like Braindead / Bad Taste – ‘specially the alien guns! The last 30 minutes are crammed with cheesy blockbuster action, which feels wrong here and is a bit of a let down: I also hate how humans can use complex, alien machinery without training! South African’s will no doubt pick up the racism and poverty undertones, although they’re not in your face (unless you’re Nigerian or a Nigerian Scammer). It’s a well-made and very fresh idea, that passes far to quickly but falls short in the last quarter. Leaves you hungry for prawns. Second viewing in a year, still great.
Gamer: (Blu Ray) it is the future (!) and computer games have reached the next level with humans controlling prisoners in a live PPV bloodsport called Slayers. The film opens with such a WTF battle – guns, explosions, slow mo, blood and teabagging. More generally the action’s scenes feel totally anarchic – good for conveying confusion, bad for having any idea of what’s going on. It takes sci-fi to the next level of ridiculousness with 1980s pseudo science; Butler being mind-controled in a game by some Justin Bieber lookalike through a fake brains… So many parts of the film reek of “This scene / character would be totally LOL” – let’s have the fattest, ugliest, stereotype computer geek – LOL; let’s have butler get drunk, then piss and puke – LOL; let’s get a rapper in it, LOL; Dexter as a baddie would be so LOL… by the end it’s trying way too hard, especially that ridiculous dance number. The story’s a carbon copy of films like Running Man / Condemned / Death Race – and it has a vibe somewhere between cyberpunk and goth S&M freaks The BD picture’s very good throughout (camerawork and cinematography are great) but the soundtrack is on a whole other level – much like War this works the entire system… would be a great demo, if your shop was for over 18s. All-in, Gamer’s a pretty broad genre-spanning punky type film that doesn’t taking itself too seriously. There’s a good punt at a story, and enough action to keep everyone interested. I got the feeling that Gamer was just a really fun project for the people involved to be working on. Made by video gamers for gamers, while stereotyping their culture and the media… bizarre.
Watchmen: (Blu Ray) A gang of retired vigilantes squeeze back into their costumes to figure out who’s trying to kill them off. The story itself is a near perfect blend of action and dystopian Noir mystery, although it’s no Sin City rip off. Picture and surround sound are both absolutely stunning and could easily be used as test/demo material. All aspects of the visuals are totally slick, and bone-splitting graphic violence has never looked this good. The run time may put some off, at 2:45, but it’s all about the characters past and present. A few streaks of hardcore physics to melt your mind, and older viewers will remember the constant fear of a potential nuclear holocaust. On a downside the soundtrack’s very dominating, trendy and generic for such an original story, and it’s never good seeing a huge blue wang, ever. Haven’t read the graphic novel so can’t compare them, but as a stand alone film this is certainly a great achievement. Plain awesome viewing.