Category Archives: I done watched a thing

Pacific Rim: GO SEE IT

I can’t believe I haven’t said this yet: Pacific Rim is a very good movie.

Or more accurately, it is exactly the movie it wants to be. It is a giant robot movie, written and directed by giant robot movie enthusiasts, for people who want to see giant robots.

The downside of this is that it’s not very original. A surprising amount of it is fairly predictable if you’ve even heard of giant robot movies, let alone seen a series. But it doesn’t have to be original to be good; most of Dredd is a Die Hard clone but it’s still well-handled and enjoyable to watch. So it is with Pacific Rim. The cliches have so much love and affection poured in that it becomes very hard to view them negatively. The characters work, with Idris Elba in particular putting on a brilliant display, and the special effects are gorgeous.

The main negatives I have were the Crimson Typhoon getting so little screentime and the absolutely terrible Australian accents sported by a couple of characters, but beyond that I can’t really fault it.

Disagree? Found the cliches too over-the-top? That’s your opinion. But seriously, this is my review and I think it’s a damn good movie.

– OSM out


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Shaun Micallef’s Mad as Hell

I’ve watched a few episodes of this ABC news spoof, and I’m wondering: what is he mad as hell about? Is it political hypocrisy? Useless news media? Or is he just peeved that his writers aren’t as good as Jon Stewart’s?The show itself consists of Micallef cracking wise about news events, engaging in fake interviews with people bearing ludicrous names, and going off in peculiar directions. Some of the sketches are comic genius, others just leave you going “bwuh” and wondering why anyone bothered. It’s all a bit hit and miss.

The main draw to the series is, of course, Shaun Micallef. It does have to be said that he has a lot of charisma. I’m pretty sure that he could set up his own political party from deadbeats, ex-cons and people who listen nonstop to Shannon Noll, and he’d be a shoe-in for Prime Minister; mind you, the current Australian political landscape consists of one group that make evil decisions and carry them out competently, and one that makes good decisions and execute them as poorly as Nearly Headless Nick was, meaning that I’m pretty sure a full-time mime artist could reach high office if he put in the effort. And certainly, for my money, more Micallef is always welcome – but it’s a bit hard to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

I mean, it’s not too bad as comedy series go. The silly names are a bit of a letdown, but it does fill a bit of the gap the ABC left when they stopped having the Daily Show shipped over. Ultimately, sadly, that’s the problem: consciously or unconsciously, it really is trying to be the Daily Show, maybe with a bit of the Colbert Report mixed in, and as good as Micallef is, he’s not quite that good. Even the funny sketches lack that essential stick-in-the-mind quality of, say, Monty Python, or even Thank God You’re Here (on which Micallef was a frequent participant), meaning that you laugh a bit and then totally forget everything about them – and I can remember a number of Garfield comics from fifteen years ago, so that’s a bad sign.

Final score: seven hoots out of ten. I don’t mind getting a bit as an incidental bonus for being overly cautious when taping QI, but I’m not feeling particularly eager to watch it consistently.

– OSM out

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A new type of movie – one that hunts sentience: Hansel and Gretel

Note: this will contain spoilers. Look at it this way: I just spared you the pain of watching this movie.

They’ve finally found a cure for brain. Stick your head in a metal bucket and visit Animal’s cage at the back of the Muppet Theatre. Or, should that be impossible, watch Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.

Ye gods it’s loud. Imagine sitting directly in front of an amplifier during a DragonForce concert. Now drop the average IQ so hard it goes backwards in time. The soundtrack isn’t bad, per se, but it’s cranked up to 13 when 11 was already headache-inducing, to the point where I was sitting across the road from a car alarm going off and it was actually easing the pain in my head. I really cannot emphasise enough how much it felt like being in the firing line of a squad of Noise Marines. Or hit with a hammer. Or run over by a truck.

OK, I’ll stop.

The special effects are in the same boat. They’re technically fairly well handled, but still not quite enough to save the movie, and I’m really not sure why it was necessary to apply the gore with a rhino’s foot rather than a paintbrush. There are several plot points – the wire traps, Edward’s defence of Gretel, the Curse of Hunger for Crawling Things – that either exist solely for pointless gore, or needlessly ramp up the brutality of a scene because it’s an “action movie”.

Die Hard is an action movie too, but I don’t recall John McClane making people explode in showers of gore or popping their heads like grapes.

Moving on. The plot has Hansen and Gretel become huge badasses once they had completed their traditional fairytale, only for a simple bounty hunting job to turn out to be a conspiracy to create fireproof witches. (Although “kill it with fire” is described as the only way to make sure a given witch is dead, only a handful of the witches they kill during the movie are actually burned. I think they’re ensuring repeat business.)

There are some really unfortunate things about the plot which only occur to you once the headache dies down. Most notably, it turns out that witches are available in both black and white magic forms. White magic is inherited, with – spoiler – Gretel turning out to be technically a white witch. Assuming both types of witch work vaguely the same way, that means black magic should also be inherited. Leaving aside the question of how someone as hideously deformed as the average black witch is going to have kids, this also kind of leads to some awkward questions involving good and evil being clearly heritable traits. The primary alternative is that white witches are the default and black witches arise from them accepting corruption, at which point we run into the problem that the witches of this movie have no motives. They don’t have a reason for being evil. They’re just Bad Guys who want to do Bad Things so that the heroes can gun them down without remorse. The ritual they’re planning is based on preventing themselves from dying, but if they really want to not be burned at the stake they could, I dunno, use their magic for good and not mess about with deals with the devil? Have I put more thought into this than the filmmakers now? Should I get out more?

As a side note, I’m really starting to get tired of what I’ve decided to call the Will It Blend school of action scenes. This consists of making every fight an incredibly jarring string of one-second patches of footing cut from every different angle and nailed together so tightly that you have very little idea what’s actually happening. It might work in moderation, but applying it as often as H&G does makes the movie disorienting and headache-inducing, and trust me when I say the soundtrack doesn’t need any help in that department.

I award this movie zero brains out of five, and weep for the makeup, special effects and so on expertise that was squandered on it. There were a few scenes that I enjoyed, but fundamentally, it was an exercise in brainless violence mixed with unnerving implications.

– OSM out

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