Sunday, 30 May 2010

What I've Been Watching: Lost - Final Thoughts

88063A59-6A1A-43E7-99DC-A6A9C96BB8F7.jpg"The longest single story ever told on television" Whatever else Lost was, it was surely that. Perhaps only Battlestar Galactica has come close to telling such a long, extraordinary tale. Unlike most television, which tells a new story each episode (CSI, House, etc.) or each season (The Wire, Buffy, and so on...), Lost's story lasted six seasons, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

As such, it frustrated and engaged fans in equal measure; as they debated the meaning of numbers, four-toed statues, smoke monsters and polar bears. Of course, the reality is most of these questions were answered in the final season. And even the most hardcore of fan cannot have expected every single thread to be tied up in its final episode.

However, this was the show that took its fans and its mythology incredibly seriously. The final season showed just how much the writers had invested in the show. Time and again we saw things that had happened 5+ years ago being referenced, and it's a testament to the show's ability to create memorable moments and mysteries that we were able to remember precisely what it is they were referring to.

Season 6 Review

The final season was based around Jacob and NotLocke: the two brothers who had been bringing and testing people on the island for at least 150 years. After Jacob's death at the end of season 5, the island needed a new protector, and so 'the candidates' emerged.

The battle between the brothers provided the backdrop to the season, as we saw how they're differing opinions on humanity influenced their relationships with those who were washed ashore.

Jacob's final revelation that the reason for them being there was because their lives needed direction made surprisingly perfect sense of the events of the last six seasons. This was underlined by the reunions of all the characters in the FlashSideways (or perhaps more accurately, FlashUpwards) which were by far the highlight of the finale. More than once I had tears in my eyes as Charlie and Claire, Sawyer and Juliette, and so on were reunited. Hurley's understated remark to Ben that 'he was a good number two' likewise provided a surprisingly poignant moment.

If Lost's finale said anything, it was that the show was not primarily about the island and its mythology but rather the relationships the Losties made there. Relationships that allowed each individual to put all their worries and concerns to one side in the alternate reality and enjoy life again.

My only 'theory' about the ending is that when each Lostie died, instead of being reborn again, they went straight to boarding Oceanic Flight 815 - any memories they had being false ones based on memories of their real lives.

The reason I think this, is because it is clear the flight was supposed to be the most significant event in their lives, and it makes perfect sense their brain would go straight there to relive it. So as soon as they die, they go straight onto the flight in order to reach their final destination with the people who were most important to them.

CAC4E4A4-0F21-48EF-8070-B8AC9289359E.jpgAlthough Christian Shepherd's revelation in the final fifteen minutes kind of came of the blue, upon reflection I think it makes perfect sense. At my most cynical I could say limbo was just an excuse to bring all the old cast members back, and their reasoning behind not having Shannon on the plane makes zero sense.

However, the season certainly set-up these religious themes: the epic battle between good and evil; finding one's destiny; and earning one's redemption. In the context of these themes, introducing limbo or heaven into the equation I have no real problem with.

Fan Reaction

Finally, it's interesting to consider fans reaction to the finale. A reaction which it seems has been somewhat mixed. Perhaps the weakness of doing one story over six seasons is that fans have so much invested in the show, and have come up with so many theories about the island and the overall story the show is trying to tell, that they'll inevitably be disappointed when the show diverges from their own interpretation.

However, as I mentioned in my television review of the decade, the appeal of Lost to me has always be always been it's ability to surprise, and as such I should give the show credit for continuing to bring me with it for six years without ever really feeling cheated when new concepts like buttons, time travel, or alternate realities were introduced. Normally, shows would only introduce these type of things for one episode, with any plot holes, being easily ignored for the sake of that week's story. Lost meticulously established such grand concepts into the show's mythology, and for this it should be given a lot of credit.

I think when fans reflect back over the six seasons, they'll see a truly unique story that was unprecedented in its scope and ambition. Unlike Battlestar Galactica which 'Jumped The Starbuck', I don't think Lost has such a singular moment where fans gave up on the show. As such I think those disappointed by the finale will soon forgive the show as they reflect and re-watch the story in its entirety in years to come.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Edinburgh Film Festival - Here I Come

EIFF logo black mono.jpgI recently received an email confirming that I've been accepted as a member of the press for the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

This is great news since it'll mean I'm able to see and review lots of fantastic films before they get their national release, as well as attending some press conferences, and potentially getting exclusive interviews with the cast and crew of this year's most exciting movies.

Obviously, you'll hear about exactly what I've seen or who I've met on this very site. As such, expect updates on a daily basis during the festival which runs from the 16th-27th June.

The programme is released on the 1st June, so I'll do my best to pick out the highlights before the box office for the festival opens on the 3rd June.

In the meantime, you can check out the trailer for the festival at

Monday, 24 May 2010

What I've Been Watching: Robin Hood & Hot Tub Time Machine

B6116532-8C24-4DDC-B4FC-FB1B3EBBD37F.jpgRobin Hood

From the team that brought you Gladiator, comes Robin Hood, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe's attempt to do for The Prince of Thieves what Batman Begins did for The Dark Knight.

The film has been marketed as 'The untold story of the man behind the legend'. The premise is that Robin has returned from the crusades to find King John on the throne, who's country is bankrupt after an ill-conceived campaign in the Middle East (As as side note, aren't you glad to see things have changed a lot in Britain since the 13th Century...?)

There's also a bit about Robin Hood impersonating one of the king's knights. However, the only purpose it seems to serve is that said knight was married to Maid Marion: cue lots of awkward exchanges as they have to pretend to like each other to everyone else, while trying to hide their true feelings from each other. Apparently Ridley Scott thought this twist on the Robin Hood tale made the whole thing worth watching. It doesn't.

It's dull. Really dull. And it has no reason to be. Everything about this movie is brilliantly executed. The actors are well chosen, it's funny when it needs to be, the attention to detail in the world is spot on. What they forget to do was actually make Robin Hood an interesting character.

Perhaps it's worth considering at this point what makes a good origin story. If we think about Batman Begins, Casino Royale or even Spiderman, a big part of what makes them interesting is seeing them grow and develop into the legends we know they'll become.

So it's fairly common in these types of stories to see them say and do things we would never expect Batman/James Bond/Spiderman to do later on in their lives. For example, letting a robber get away with stolen money in Spiderman or giving up the secret service for a woman in Casino Royale

In Robin Hood, when we meet the title character, it may as well be at anytime in his story. He stands up for what's right, speaks his mind and has no problem with questioning authority. He makes no mistakes in the entire movie, and not once does he make a decision we would ever think to question. It's all very noble. And very boring.

I came out of the movie very disappointed since I really wanted to like it. It's not that any of parts are shoddy in any way, it's just that when you arrange it all together it's just a Volkswagen - it should have been a Porsche.

63BF0FA7-717A-433F-B58B-04A2D3C7C072.jpgHot Tub Time Machine

It's rare that a movie can so aptly describe/sell itself with just its title. Taking a leaf out of Snakes on a Plane, Hot Tub Time Machine feels like a movie where someone came up with a title and then started putting all the pieces together. They must have spelt out '1980'.

There's a great sense that the creative forces behind the movie love the 80s without feeling the need to apologise for it. "The 80s was a sucky decade, but it was our sucky decade" to misquote one of the movie's lines.

Unfortunately the film is quite a mess. At one point, as the characters partake in some male bonding, Lou declares Haven't you even seen Wild Hogs? This is a film that is doing its utmost not to go down the sappy, we all learn a lesson story of Travolta and co's movie. Yet it seems to be inexplicably drawn to it at the same time.

Characters do learn lessons: about taking risks, about standing up for themselves, and about taking responsibility for their lives. And in between we get jokes about sex, drugs and the 80s. None of which are that funny or that memorable.

The plot also makes no sense. At the beginning of the movie, it's well established that all their lives suck. And they get away for the weekend together to try and forget that fact. They get to the past, and spend most of the movie making sure they change nothing so it can all be the same. Why?

Most of this movie is frustrating, because at its best it knows exactly how ridiculous the premise is, and pokes fun at it at various points. Snake on a Plane had a concept, knew it was crazy, but stuck with it. Hot Tub Time Machine had a concept, but then couldn't decide if it wanted to be a Judd Apatow movie or Wild Hogs. As it is, it was neither. A rude, crude movie with a pointlessly tacked on message where people solve all their problems by changing one thing about themselves. All in all it ends up feeling just like the 80s: best left forgotten.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Best Worst Movie? Troll 2 vs The Room

A0CB4247-14ED-4322-BB1F-A84E2A654128.jpgThe crown of the "Worst Movie Ever" or "Best Worst Movie" is one no director should ever be proud to wear. However, there can be many benefits to achieving such cult status. Stars of the movies The Room and Troll 2 are treated like demi-gods by those who attend screenings for their movies.

This phenomenon was deemed interesting enough that Michael Stephenson, who plays the ten year-old Joshua in Troll 2, decided to make a documentary titled Best Worst Movie, regarding the fan base that has built up around Troll 2.

The Room, on the other hand, has elevated its writer, producer and star, Tommy Wiseau to the kind of cult status one normally only associates with Adam West or Bruce Campbell. Fans queue for hours to attend screenings where he's present: cheering every time his name comes on the screen in the opening credits.

Given the intense cult following for both these movies, I thought it'd be interesting to compare them. So without further ado, let battle commence:

A69D24C8-B28F-4187-91D6-A38C684778A1.jpgThe Room

I saw The Room in a packed midnight showing at The Cameo in Edinburgh. Literally 200+ people had come out, armed with plastic spoons, to cheer, chant and throw American footballs during the screening of a movie most seemed to have an intensely intimate knowledge of.

For example, in the film all the paintings in the apartment contain spoons. Anytime any of these paintings can be seen in the shot, movie-goers would shout "Spoons" as hundreds of plastic spoons would rain down upon the theatre.

Add to that, phrases such as "Who Are You?" when characters get randomly introduced then disposed of; cheering when the mother-in-law declares "she has cancer" then never mentions, or even alludes to, this again for the rest of the movie; and joining in with the ever-so-dramatically delivered line "You're tearing me apart Lisa!". This was a movie-going-experience like none I had ever experienced.

The movie itself is terrible, not so much in terms of its cinematography or even acting, but its dialogue and story. Characters come and go as they please; lines are repeated again and again ('He's your best friend'; 'You're about to get married', etc.); and a drug dealer appears for no apparent reason.

This is a movie that was clearly a labour of love for its director. It's like he's tried to put everything he's ever experienced in one movie, without actually considering how all the pieces will fit together. Kind of like what happens when you mix all your watercolours together in the hope of getting some new super-colour: It ends up looking like poo.

Despite all this there is a charm to the movie that's difficult to describe. It's easy to tell that Wiseau believes absolutely in what he's doing, and perhaps that's why the movie has built up such a following. Like Eddie the Eagle or Tim Henman, it's difficult to dislike someone who's obviously trying their best but just lacks the talent to succeed.

075FCFF1-00AC-4650-89FE-526CECAF979C.jpgTroll 2

Don't be fooled by the title, Troll 2 has nothing to do with Trolls, its bad guys are actually goblins and never called 'trolls' at any point in the movie. Neither is it a sequel to the little known horror movie, Troll: In the sense that it contains none of the same characters, story or mythology as that movie.

Instead, the movie was thought to be such a stinker by its distributors, they hoped to capitalise on the modest success of Troll by pretending this was a sequel to it.

Troll 2 tells the story of a family's vacation to 'Nilbog' (Try spelling it backwards). There the locals seem strangely keen to make them eat the exclusively vegetarian cuisine. In another universe Troll 2 would have been created by the manufacturers of processed meat, as it does its best to discredit the healthy benefits of vegetables, instead choosing to promote the merits of a 'Double Decker Bologna Sandwich'.

The acting is possibly the worst you will ever see. Lines are learnt and executed with the type of delivery normally reserved for a child's Nativity Play. In one instance the mother's delivery felt so forced that by the time she gets to the end of her little speech, you'll feel like bursting into applause: she made it!

Also for a town intent on getting visitors to eat their food, you think they could make it a little more appetizing. Instead, it's all covered in this strange green goo that makes even the most innocent of foods look radioactive.

It's also worth noting that for goblins that can choose to take any form, it's surprising that would choose the types of faces one is used to seeing next to headlines such as "The Nation's Most Dangerous Sex Offenders".

Troll 2, like The Room is difficult to hate since it's just so ridiculous. Perhaps it's best summed up by its very own Grandma Seth: a slightly crazy, creepy but ultimately harmless film. And like Grandpa Seth, having died a death a long time ago, it's now come back: bigger stronger and with the inexplicable power to stop time at will.

Best Worst Movie?

So having reviewed both movies, one question remains: which is the best? Or worst? Or best worst? Well, horrible as The Room is, I still think the title can only belong to Troll 2. On some level, it is possible to see the narrative The Room was trying to create, and it at least knows how to create a dramatic ending. Troll 2, on the other hand, is just a big bunch of crazy. With little that gives any indication that anyone involved has ever seen a movie before.

It's often said Orson Welles recreated cinema by ripping up the rules on Citizen Kane. I think it's fair to say Troll 2 did this as well. It's perhaps no coincidence that both are two of the most unique movies ever made. And if anyone finds a finer Best Worst Movie than Troll 2 out there, I'll eat a goblin. Backwards.

As an added treat, here's possibly the best worst delivered line ever:

Monday, 17 May 2010

What I've Been Watching: DVD - Awaydays & American History X


Football Hooligan movies fill with me with a certain amount of dread. As a teacher I know the impact such films can have on young impressionable teens. Regardless of their attempts to show the consequences of such violence, there is still a level of style given to the riots between rival football fans that I feel filmmakers should take more responsibility for.

Awaydays does nothing to alleviate such fears. It features skinny teenagers taking on gangs of much older men and coming out with barely a scratch.

Despite this, it may not be the type of movie that would appeal to boys of that certain age. The story centres on the relationship between the main character, Catry, and Elvis. The latter appearing to have feelings that go beyond friendship towards the former.

The problem with the movie is not just that the characters are not particularly likeable, it's that they're also pretty difficult to sympathise with. Whether it's one trying to get the adrenaline rush of being in a brawl, another looking for the satisfaction of love that can never happen, or another trying to hold onto his youth by commanding a company of teens, I care little about their plight.

It's not that the film lacks ambition or has nothing to say. It's just that theyway the story is presented gives us little reason to care. Is this a story about the appeal and dangers of hooliganism? Is it about finding your place in the world? Is it about allowing other people to see the person you really are?

The problem then is not its stylishly shot scenes of hooliganism, neither its unsympathetic characters, but that Awayday's story lacks anything to hang onto - instead, it's as random and pointless as the violence it so readily depicts.

A9BC164B-E305-4F67-8C10-8CE2E2C02C0B.jpgAmerican History X

Another movie which readily depicts violence is American History X, a movie about the relationship between two brothers, the older of whom ends up in jail after a racially motivated attack.

Unlike Awaydays, however, this movie has no problems telling its story, even though it does so in a much more complicated, and hence interesting, manner.

Split between flashbacks in black and white, and the colourful world of the present day, both brothers are forced to face up to the actions that have got them to the place they are at now. The plot being propelled by the younger's assignment to write a paper about how the older one ended up doing time.

Where it excels in my opinion, is in its depiction of family. A family which, although dysfunctional, has little in common with The Tenenbaums nor The Simpsons.Instead they're a family broken apart by grief and resentment for an incident in their past.

Few movies manage to capture so well the many facets that make us who we are as a result of our upbringing and parental environment.

308D6EFE-89B9-41F8-8104-514EB88F7232.jpgYet as we dig deeper into what made Edward Norton's character become leader of a white supremacist group, we understand how such an intelligent youth could get it so badly wrong.

We also see how he becomes a father figure to his younger brother, and that Danny's need to follow in his footsteps can only have dire consequences for everyone involved.

Unlike in the world of procedurals like CSI and Without a Trace, the solving of a murder does little to bring closure to such a life-defining event and the consequences of seeing a loved one be killed will live with those closest to them forever.

There are many other aspects to American History X. However, upon first viewing this is the one that stuck out most. It could also be praised for its depiction of race relations, which felt incredibly refreshing - presenting few easy solutions to such a long-standing problem. Never mind Norton's outstanding performance, the narrative structure, the writing or the cinematography. Perhaps it's just best you see it for yourself...

Saturday, 15 May 2010

My Totally Rad Show Moment

I've already mentioned on this blog that one of my favourite web shows is The Totally Rad Show. For those of you who don't know it's a show hosted by three self-confessed geeks who review movies, computer games, television, and comics.

For the past few months they've been asking for fans to submit lyrics to their intro, which normally features photoshopped versions of them in the plot of a movie.

Knowing they were going to review Iron Man this week, I thought I'd give it a shot, and so with the help of rhymezone I created the following and emailed it in:

Three rad men
In Afghanistan
Were captured and taken
To a secret den

They're forced to plan
Rad shows for Taliban
With Spidey's Uncle Ben
And an old modem

So they sneakily pen
Iron suits for men
That fly just like hens
And have an app - or ten!

Soaring free again
They become changed men
Vowing to spread zen
On the Totally Rad Show

Having received no reply to the email, I assumed nothing had come of it, but tuned in nevertheless in the vague hope my lyrics would appear. Upon hearing "Three Rad Men in Afghanistan" my heart almost stopped. And upon hearing the end of the lyric, I rewound to make sure I hadn't misheard. THOSE WERE MY LYRICS!

Anyway I've edited the show down to two minutes, so you can my moment of internet fame in all its glory. It includes the shout-out to me where they 'hilariously' forget my name, then once they remember it all say it in unison so the whole world can hear. Finally Jeff tells the viewers to 'Be Like Mark Davidson....". Sage advice indeed. I think I can die happy. :)

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Films of Shame: Annie Hall

F06D1C00-0068-4D18-8C98-A2023A6C5BD5.jpgFilms of Shame chronicles my impressions of movies I should have seen before now, but haven't. I've already taken Citizen Kane, The Shining and The Godfather Part II off my list. My final film on the list will be Taxi Driver.

Annie Hall holds a place in oscar history as the last comedy to win Best Picture at the academy awards. It's interesting to consider why. Perhaps one reason is that where as most comedies paint in broad strokes - with observations that hit home with as many people as possible, Woody Allen's film has an incredibly personal feel to it.

As Alvy breaks the fourth wall, and speaks directly to camera, it's difficult to tell where he ends and Woody Allen begins. In addition, the title character was also based on Diane Keaton, whose real name is Diane Hall, and nickname is 'Annie'.

This personal nature of the film fits incredibly snugly next to its theme of relationships - why we choose to put ourselves through the highs and lows of love despite our lack of success in the field to date.

The narrative structure is such that Annie Hall flits back and forth between the present day and the time the two lead characters met. In doing so we explore what works and what doesn't about their relationship. The little things that become bigger things later, the way the two of them want the other to change, without them losing what it is they were attracted to in the first place.

03176567-1D32-4C41-8CF9-7699F2656173.jpgAs Alvy narrates over his own movie, his own relationship, it mirrors our own ability to narrate our own lives, and in particular our own relationships. We often assume a certain moment meant this, or a certain phrase meant that, but we can never be sure precisely what this meant to the other person.

Annie Hall, unlike most comedies, has something to say. It captures the joy and humour of meeting someone you love, as well as the confusion and isolation of trying to make your two lives and personalities mesh together.

Alvy starts the movie with a line from Groucho Marx: "I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.". By the end of the movie, we're left pondering what it is within us that gives us that desire to compromise, share, and love with another person. Why is it that, above so many other things, many of us seek the most?

Saturday, 8 May 2010

What I've Been Watching: Date Night & The Disappearance of Alice Creed

6DABEDA9-FB32-46F5-AC43-8A4EE6B87755.jpgDate Night
I've got a feeling...

30 Rock and The American Office have been two of the most successful, creative US comedies of recent years. They've deservedly made household names of their two stars: Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. So when I saw them on the poster for Date Night, my immediate reaction was: why hasn't anyone thought of this before?

This 'natural pairing' translates very well onto the screen as Fey and Carrell are asked to portray The Fosters, a married couple whose busy working/family lives mean they no longer have the energy to put effort into their relationship

The opening scenes to the movie almost come from another film, as the Fosters find out two of their best friends are getting divorced. Why? "They're just roommates. Really good roommates".

In an effort to spice things up a little, the Fosters decide to go to Manhattan for a night out. What follows is a case of mistaken identity which results in 'wacky shenanigans' for the next hour or so.

6828A81A-EAD0-4978-8D93-95088F9615E2.jpgThe film's strengths lie in the central relationship between Fey's and Carrell's respective characters. It shines when they're not figuring out where it is they need to be next, and instead just talking... (Yes talking, because if Annie Hall has taught us anything it's that a movie with people just... you know... talking can actually be entertaining). This 'talking' really felt like the kind of unique, smart comedy the two stars are known for.

To put it another way, I guess it's kind of like going to see a stand-up and instead of doing comedy, they decide to spend the hour juggling. It's not that their juggling is bad... I mean they had knives and flames and stuff... it's just that they're comedians... I wanted some funny.

So it is with Fey and Carrell, they're smart comedians, where's the smart comedy? Instead we got car chases, Tina Fey bumping into things, and pole dancing...

Despite all these set-backs, I was still entertained. It's easy to be won over by these two stars and the excellent supporting cast. I just wish the journey could have been as interesting as the company...

78FD469D-587D-4E68-B2C4-C48264A90CE2.jpgThe Disappearance of Alice Creed
Alice, Alice, Where the *bleep* is Alice?

There aren't many films that can sustain an interesting story with just three characters. Rear Window comes to mind as the type of movie that used just a few speaking characters to create over two hours of almost faultless suspense.

The first fifteen minutes of The Disappearance of Alice Creed would have you believing this movie is more of the torture-porn genre (e.g. Saw, Hostel) than the suspenseful thriller it later becomes.

In it, we see the two kidnappers, one in his forties, the other in their twenties meticulously set-up the flat they wish to keep Alice locked in. They sound-proof the walls, build the bed, and get all the supplies they'll need to carry out the crime. All without speaking. We then get a fairly disturbing piece of cinema, as Alice is captured, tied to the bed, stripped naked and photographed.

18330768-71D2-486E-9571-1645CF67DF87.jpgWhat follows, without giving anything away about the actual plot, is entirely different in tone. The movie chooses to concentrate on the characters, and the relationships that develop between the three of them. As a result it is much more like the tense and suspenseful Rear Window than the gory and disturbing Saw.

For a movie to work with just three characters, you need an excellent script and excellent actors. The movie has both. And although not perfect (perhaps the last act could have given us a little more), it's a very rewarding and exciting film to watch. It has a purity and innocence to its story that is very refreshing.

Unlike Date Night, which clearly had three or four creative forces all wanting different things, Alice Creed feels like one man's creative vision perfectly realised on the screen. Thoroughly recommended.

Monday, 3 May 2010

What I've Been Watching: Cemetery Junction & Iron Man 2

E4E92DB8-3F77-440D-8292-D1D838045F58.jpgCemetery Junction
A.K.A. Dead End

Mark Kermode, on his blog, posted a piece about whether a comedy needed to be funny to be described as such. He argued that despite Cemetery Junction's lack of laughs, it was still a good comedy because it was a good film. I would disagree with this argument. Cemetery Junction is simply not a comedy.

Given the involvement of Gervais and Merchant (The Office, Extras, The Invention of Lying) I can understand some critics' need to classify it as such. However, trying to cram it into that genre by redefining what a comedy is, seems to be completely missing the point.

Anyone who's seen the final episodes of The Office or Extras will know that these two writers know, not only how bring comedy out of the most excruciating of circumstances, but also how to build to great character moments. For example, when Dawn finds Tim's picture on her way to the airport in The Office or in Extras, when Andy launches a tirade on reality TV, while at the same time making a heartfelt apology to Maggie live from the Big Brother house.

15C763EE-68CE-4E74-BB63-9D5D78BA2874.jpgCemetery Junction essentially turns the comedy vs drama tables on us: being primarily concerned with these the latter, and only giving us little nuggets of funny in between. This was always going to be a risky move for these two writers, however, I think it's paid off pretty well.

Instead of the story moving in a direction that creates the most awkward, cringeworthy moments possible, we instead get a very tight, well-constructed plot about four people in the twenties trying to make something of their lives.

The characters, whether major or minor, are all incredibly well written and cast, with nearly all of them having moments that make you believe in their real, three-dimensional personas.

One other thing to look at is the significance of gifts in the movie, in particular, the manner in which they are given and received. Nearly all the important moments in the movie are when one character gives another things like a cup of tea, a beer, or a crystal bowl. Perhaps this best sums up the style of writing in the movie, where big things are said through little gestures.

Cemetery Junction then succeeds as a coming-of-age drama with a great heart and well developed character arts. If, however, you're expecting something with the comedic tone of Gervais' earlier works, I'd recommend re-watching your Office/Extras boxsets.

08572EC8-4D8F-43E3-B4F9-F7D5A074300F.jpgIron Man 2
He Came. He Saw. He Ironed.

When Iron Man was released in 2008 it was almost greeted as the second coming by some movie geeks. Its combination of snappy dialogue, a well constructed world, and a perfectly cast Robert Downey Jr leading some to question whether The Dark Knight, released a few months later, could surpass it for entertainment value. Needless to say, Nolan's Batman movie, is now considered the pinnacle of the genre. However, perhaps it's a little unfair to put the original on that high a pedestal.

You see, Iron Man is a film much like its main character: loud, brash, and cocky while at the same time wanting to do something worthwhile.

At the end of the first movie, it was incredibly refreshing to see a superhero finally 'come out' and admit to his secret identity. This dynamic is nicely used through out the sequel, as people are forced to believe in the man Tony Stark, as oppose to his alter-ego Iron Man.

Compare this to every other superhero movie, where the main character must decide what it is they stand for when they're dressed in their capes and cowls, and the impact this has on the normal people around them.

At the end of the first act of the movie Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) targets Stark, and declares he has won because he made him bleed, he made him fallible. Arguably this resulting conversation is the high point of the movie. With the nature of Stark's new role in "privatising world peace" rightly questioned by this new enemy.

5A311444-B0D9-444F-BB33-DDC3E5113167.jpgUnfortunately, like the first it quickly descends into action movie territory in the final third, with all the interesting stuff put to one side in favour of more robots hitting each other. And we all know Transformers has cornered the market on that.

My only other complaint is the inclusion of The Avengers which will only really make sense to fans of Marvel comics. It still hasn't been clearly established why Nick Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation is so important, or what the threat it is they're dealing with. As such, the inclusion of these scenes in the middle of the movie made little sense in terms of the story of Iron Man 2. As well as causing it to suffer from Spiderman 3 syndrome as we were introduced to yet more characters.

Don't get me wrong I'm as excited as anyone at seeing Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, et al on the screen together in one movie, but I feel like more justification needs to be given to seeing Samuel L. Jackson pop up in the middle of each of Marvel's flagship titles.

Iron Man 2 is a movie that brought me with it for the first third, but seemed to run out of things to say by about half way. I never felt any real threat towards the characters, what it was Tony Stark was really fighting for, or what his dilemma in the movie was. As such, while entertaining, I don't think it holds up well when compared to the emotional heart of similar sequels like Spiderman 2, X-Men 2 or indeed The Dark Knight.

Reviews of Date Night and The Disappearance of Alice Creed will be published later this week.