Archive for July, 2013

The World’s End (2013)
 
Five friends return to their hometown to relive a pub crawl they never finished in their youth, however, they find their town has been invaded by interstellar beings ‘Blanks’ and the crawl could literary kill them.
 
Director/writer Edger Wright returns with this British set, sci-fi, beer-fuelled pub crawl yarn. Once again like Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Hot Fuzz (2007) what makes this so likable is the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost combination – the two have great chemistry, they’re not only funny but warm too. There’s plenty of camaraderie between the five friends mixed with the humorous restlessness of a school reunion.
 
The on location feel gives it an air of realism and captures a current British small town perfectly. Wright once again shows that he’s at the top of his game, the action scenes are wonderfully executed and the effects are superb. The soundtrack oozes nostalgia and accompanying music score is fitting. Some jokes my go over some international viewer’s heads, but the majority cater for all.
 
The first half of the film injects the most one liners and comedy output with the old gang rejoining and their return to the town, while the second is more action orientated when they go head to head with the invaders. The beings glowing eyes are reminiscent of Demons (1985) while the set up feels like Invasion of the Body Snatcher (1956/78) only with a twist and the closing confrontation plays out like an episode of Star Trek/Doctor Who followed by an outlandish flash-forward.
 
There’s plenty of homage’s thrown in just for fun, Pegg as washed up excitable alcoholic/drug intoxicated Gary King plays against the usual nice guy, here he’s a man you love to hate, you really want him to succeed. Frost is kick-ass lovable. It’s strength is that you care about the fate of the characters. The supporting cast are excellent including (surprisingly well cast) Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman to name a few and a surprise cameo by an ex-Bond.
 
If Shaun was on the money, and Hot Fuzz was wordy, The World’s End is somewhere in between. Highly recommended.
 

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I love sharks, many of you will know as far as having a Megalodon’s tooth fossilized on my desk. If you’re a shark fan check out the MEG book series. Incidentally Meg’s author Steve Alten gave me some helpful tips on book trailers for my own works, but I digress. Yeap – ever since Jaws scared me half to death, so much so I’ve been swimming in Med’ and the ‘Jaws’ fear from my youth washed over me causing me to swim back to shore. Now that is powerful film making.
 
As it’s the summertime and the weather is hot here’s a few thoughts on a handful of shark films (some you may never heard of).
 
The Reef (2010)
 
Andrew Traucki director of croc flick Black Water (2007) hones his skills in this tense shark flick that makes Open Water look like Open season.
 
The story is simple, a boat becomes wrecked, and all but one of a group of five friends try to swim their way across the reef to a small island.
 
It’s well filmed with no dodgy special effects in sight. The script is natural and is not forced or cheesy, the hand held camera work is effective and not a shaky mess. This is no low budget schlock. It’s taught film making, wonderfully shot with some fantastic edge of the seat primal fear, courtesy of a real Great White Shark.
 
It’s no Jaws, but as a basic survival film it works a treat. Shark lovers like myself will eat this up.
 
Shark Hunter (2001)
 
The better of the giant Shark films. Compared to Megalodon (2002) and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002), Shark Hunter is almost Oscar material when it comes to acting and script. Although it suffers with a low budget and shamelessly borrows elements from Steve Alten’s novel ‘Meg’ it’s the closet thing you’ll get to an attempted prehistoric shark film.
 
The pacing and editing are a little awry but some of the practical and special effects are well executed.
 
Die Hard actor Grand L. Bush and hammy Antonio Sabato Jr. for the most part are watchable. Director Matt Codd is wise to hide to shark in the shadows and considering it was made in 2001 the SPFX are adequate. The music score is worthy of note and it has a nihilistic element that breaks the b-film mould with and ending that refreshingly going against the norm.
 
Overall, it’s far from great but the best Megalodon film to date.
 
Shark Night 3D (2011)
 
A weekend at a lake house turns into a nightmare for seven stereotype young vacationers as they are subjected to shark attacks, but its not only the sharks they need to worry about.
 
There’s some good effects and action set ups but Shark Night is poorly scripted, with an equally poor storyline that compared to Scooby-Doo makes it look like The Usual Suspects. It is certainly is a no brainer but if you want to see girls in bikini’s there’s more suitable places to get your fix or if you must even watch Piranha (2010). The actors try their best with the dialogue, notable is Sara Paxton. There’s really not much more to say about this clunker.
 
While better in the production department compared to DTV films the whole film sinks of yesterdays fish which is odd considering its is the same director of entertaining The Final Destination (2009) and Cellular (2004) to name a few. It’s a shame as everyone loves a good shark film but this just isn’t one.
 
Jaws (1975)
 
The inhabitants of a small fishing and summer resort town are terrorised by a shark and a group of men set off to catch it and kill it.
 
When Steven Spielberg first saw the script for Jaws laying on a desk the thought it was a sign to make the film, as Duel his hit TV movie had the same amount of letters in the title.
 
Jaws created what has become the film clichés you see today, a sleepy town, greedy town officials, the doubted hero and the older wise guru. It was all there in Peter Benchley’s novel, however, Spielberg made a few changes for the better and what you end up with is a thrilling suspense movie.
 
Peter Benchley has mentioned that if he had known about the actual behaviour of sharks, he would have never written the book. Also maybe Steven Spielberg may not have made the film as the shark (named “Bruce” after Spielberg’s lawyer) was never tested in salt water and caused a troubled and prolonged production. Fortunately this added to the films tense atmosphere and in the sharks case, less is more, as the actors get to show their stuff as the film builds up to a gripping finale.
 
John Williams most memorable score gels the movie together. The acting is fantastic and also from the supporting cast including Murray Hamilton’s Mayor, to Quints silent partner. The leading trio are on top form – Roy Scheider proves his performance in the French connection was no fluke, Richard Dreyfuss career was saved with his performance as Hooper and set up his future film work and finally Robert Shaw steered his performance away from a Captain Ahab rehash, to a sailor with a haunted past, Quint’s tale of the USS Indianapolis will forever be one of the best speeches in movie history.
 
Watch this movie and experience for yourself why the tagline read ‘don’t go in the water’.
 
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002)
 
Two researchers discover a colossal shark’s tooth off the Mexican coast and soon their worst fears surface eating anything that crosses its path.
 
Unconvincing special effects and Jenny McShane, I must point out that it has the greatest poor line in shark movie history, actor John Barrowman as Ben Carpenter replies to Cataline Stone as she sighs, “I’m exhausted.” with his line of…
 
“Yeah, me too. But you know I’m really wired. What do you say I… take you home and eat your pussy.” Seriously it happens, I had to rewind it to check I’d heard it right! Awful from start to finish, not even cult status. Nevertheless, it has one bonus- it makes Shark Hunter (2001) look like The Godfather.
 
Megalodon (2002)
 
An underwater explosion occurs and a drilling system collapses uncovering a section of the ocean that contains prehistoric species, allowing the Carcharodon Megalodon to surface.
 
Like Shark Hunter (2001) Megalodon brows elements from Steven Altens MEG novel. With recycled special effects shots and suffering from pacing issues, Megalodon tries it’s best to be entertaining and with a welcomed serious in tone. Under Pat Corbitt’s direction some of the low budget special effects are well-done, including some make-up effects however there’s an abundance of unnecessary bad shots (the snowstorm to name one) which bring the film down, Megalodon may have benefited from much more being left on the cutting room floor.
 
Robin Sachs (Babylon 5) gives a good performance and notable talents are both Sheppard (Battlestar Galactica) and an unrecognisable Al Sapienza although limited by the script.
 
Lacking any real tension it’s too ambitious for its own good, less may have been more. Not as rounded than Shark Hunter but just flawed – still it’s worth watching if you’re a Megalodon fan.