Discover How Far Adventure Will Take You

Steven Spielberg

Jamie Bell
Andy Serkis
Daniel Craig

Despite working several years in Ottakar’s (bookstore chain named after a Tintin character), I never bought into the Tintin craze. You’d think I should, it’s 30s/40s adventuring but it never really appealed to me; which basically means I was viewing this film from a completely fresh perspective. The story opens in a generic European city in the 1930s.. or 40s.. it’s never really made that clear (although with the lack of a World War, I would say thirties), where young journalist, Tintin [Bell] finds himself instantly enamoured with a model ship. The second he purchases the item, he is hounded by an American who claims he will double the price Tintin originally paid. Tintin explains the ship is not for sale (so close to a pun there) because he loves models.. or something, again, not really explained. As Tintin refuses, the American explains that by accepting the ship the young journalist is putting himself in grave danger. Sure enough, Tintin is almost immediately hounded by the villainous Sakharine [Craig], who wants the ship for himself – later we learn it’s not the actual model he wants but a map concealed inside. Tintin’s refusal to co-operate gets him locked up on a ship bound for North Africa, where he makes the acquaintance of the ship’s Captain, Archibald Haddock [Serkis], who has been imprisoned and kept in a permanently drunken state. Describing the plot is actually incredibly taxing, largely because its leaping formula can be summarised with “and then this happened and then this happened and then.. etc”

Visually, I was incredibly impressed with The Adventures Of Tintin. The overall aesthetic look and feel is incredibly lush and vibrant, bolstered by very convincing motion-capture CGI. Those who have read my reviews for Beowulf and A Christmas Carol will know I’m not a fan of mo-cap – I find it limiting, soulless and unconvincing – but this is the closest its come to semi-convincing; no doubt because the characters are so curiously proportioned. On top of the visual treatment, there’s a great sense of fun and adventure running throughout the film, something that’s been missing from most family films for nearly two decades. Then there are the performances to consider, the brief supporting roles are grand enough but the three leads are exceptionally embodied by Bell, Serkis and Craig. Despite the fact that Tintin is bland and tediously straight-shooting, Haddock is bordering on a hammy nautical mess and Sakharine is little more than a moustache twirling villain, all three make for engrossing individuals due to the energy behind the acting.

Unfortunately, this release is far from perfect, veering wildly off-key at times. Most of the story is pushed forward with a revelation from Tintin “Of course! The [insert artefact here], it can only mean the [insert plot point here] can be at [insert new location here]” Granted, this is quite common for most adventure/detective stories but the execution doesn’t flow as neatly as one would hope. I’m not saying the audience will be in any way lost or bewildered but it all seems a little too neat and convenient. Then we have the classic Spielberg problem of how to end the film; the man is seemingly incapable of utilising pace, flow and plot to bring everything to a satisfying close, leaving the story to peter out and stop-start until a final stuttering conclusion. This may have something to do with the fact that so many exceptional filmmakers and talented individuals have been working on the film – not to mention the countless individuals who have reportedly ‘visited the set’ on several occasions, adding their thoughts. I would even extend this to John Williams whose score was shockingly disappointing. From the opening sequence onwards, we’re treated to a medley of themes and stings that sound like a tribute to Williams’ entire career – are we watching Harry Potter, Indiana Jones or Fiddler On The Bloody Roof? Who knows? Most disappointingly, the clever and charming opening sequence is utterly ruined by the underwhelming, out-of-place plinky theme composed by Williams. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the absolutely dire action sequences that depart from reality and credibility so much that by the fourth leg you can’t help but roll your eyes, wondering when it’ll end. The bike chase through Bagghar is a perfect example of this, continually demonstrating that neat and convenient free-flow that you find in so many animated action sequences of late. Just because you physically can achieve these kinds of shots, doesn’t mean you bloody should!

But I’m reviewing this film as an adult.. a very cynical adult. On several occasions I could hear the laughter of children, completely immersed in the on-screen slapstick. But there’s the problem, who is the key audience here? I don’t think kids should be talked down to in films, they should be challenged – as such Tintin does a better job than most but it’s still not great. I believe the majority of the film is very fun and incredibly pleasing without sinking into the depths of too many cheap jokes, off-colour setups or inappropriate developments.. but when it slips, it falls hard and what we’re left with is an enjoyable but slightly disappointing release with the promise of more to come.

Release Date:
28th October 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
The ‘propeller scene’ completely sums up my impression of this film. Having crash landed in the desert, Tintin has fallen through the plane’s windscreen and is lying unconscious on the engine, slipping toward the still spinning propeller. Snowy desperately tries to pull him back but naturally, the young man is too heavy, so it’s up to a somewhat inebriated Captain Haddock to save Tintin. The build-up is surprisingly tense and although you know he’s not going to get his crown blended, the entire scene is quite gripping. That is, right up until the moment Haddock saves him, gets the wires from his parachute caught in the engine, flies round the plane four times before finally being jettisoned into a nearby sand dune. It was lame! After all that nail-biting realism and suspense, we’re blind-sided by a cheap gag as Spielberg stares out into the audiences, winks and whispers, “Don’t worry kids, Tintin will be alright.”

Notable Characters:
As stated, the three leads are very good. Tintin is bland and annoying but Bell deserves an immense amount of credit for not making him unbearable, Serkis is typically brilliant to the point where I’m getting bored of praising the man’s talents and Daniel Craig makes for a surprisingly terrifying villain, reminding me of his early roles in things like Road To Perdition, before he became the dark hero character he’s known for today. But I want to talk about the dude with the mouse. When Tintin is trying to retrieve a key from one of the slumbering shipmates, Haddock comments on a particular crewman who’s partial to “animal husbandry”. What the fuck is animal husbandry!? Is it what I think it is? If it is, it has no place in this film. You can’t have a semi-anthropomorphic dog, chasing after a sandwich instead of trying to steal a set of keys in the same scene as implying one of the crewman has a penchant for bestiality!

Highlighted Quote:
“Wait a minute.. I recognise that fish! It’s a Haddock!”

In A Few Words:
“A thrilling and visually captivating adventure story marred by poor action sequences, a mediocre score and sometimes muddled storytelling”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #57

[23 October 2011]

Winning Team:
We Need To Talk About Dan

Genre – The hunt for our missing team mate last seen in the Hard Rock Cafe in Rome

Runners Up:
The Sith Element
Genre – Star Wars 3.5 starring Gary Oldman as the new Vader
The Pith Element
Genre – Harrowing drama where middleclass men talk science
The Leon, The Witch & The Wardrobe
Genre – Natalie Portman goes to assassinate the White Queen
Genre – An action thriller starring Liam Neeson as a butcher who loses his prize winning pig to a rival and then embarks on a mission of revenge to get his pig back
The Supreme Macaroni Cleaners
Genre – Spaghetti western

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What are the prisoners building in The Bridge On The River Kwai?
2. What nationality is Christian Slater?
3. Seabiscuit focuses on which type of racing past-time? Horses? Dogs? Cars?
4. The wicked witch in The Wizard Of Oz (the green one, not the one under the house) takes her name from which compass direction?
5. Charlie Chaplin parodied which foreign leader in The Great Dictator?
6. 1985’s Clue is based on which board game?
7. What was the title of the Bryan Adams song composed for Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves? [bonus point for naming the film’s composer]
8. Maximus Decimus Meridius is the lead character in which film?
9. Which actress played Sugar Kane in Some Like It Hot?
10. What type of animal is Mr. Jingles in The Green Mile?
11. Who played the titles roles in When Harry Met Sally? (one point per correct answer)
12. What is the name of Danny Zucko’s gang in Grease?

ROUND II: Filming [Luc Besson Special]
1. Le Grand Bleu was the original title for which Besson release?
2. Who played the lead role in The Fifth Element?
3. Which actor appeared in The Last Battle, Subway, The Big Blue, Nikita and Leon?
4. The Messenger is about the life of which historical figure?
5. How many sequels to Arthur And The Invisibles have been made?
6. At the start of Angel-A, Andre is given twenty four hours to obtain what sum of money?
7. Excluding The Lady, how many feature films has Besson directed?
8. What aquatic competition is the main focus of The Big Blue?
9. What was the title of Besson’s most recent live-action release?
10. In which Besson film does Christopher Lambert form a band in the Paris metro?
11. From 1981 to 2010, Luc Besson has acted as producer on how many films? 26? 53? 98?
12. Throughout The Last Battle only one word is spoken. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Robert De Niro has directed two films, what are their titles? (one point per correct answer)
2. What is the last thing Leonard Shelby can remember in Memento?
3. The following is the poster tagline from which film? “What do you get when you cross a hopelessly straight starving actor with a dynamite red sequined dress?”
4. Which two actors played Dracula and Van Helsing respectively in the 1979 release, Dracula? (one point per correct answer)
5. 1987’s Innerspace was a remake of which 1966 film?
6. In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. White reveals his first name to Mr. Orange. What is it?
7. What does MGM stand for?
8. Name the four Marx brothers. (one point per correct answer)
9. Which Sean Connery film is Mel Gibson’s character watching at the start of What Women Want?
10. How many children does Caractacus Potts have in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? [bonus points for naming them]
TWO [Jeremy / Jemima]
11. It Happened One Night, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and The Silence Of The Lambs are the only films to win the top five Oscars. What are they? (one point per correct answer)
12. Excluding Veronica Corningstone, what are the names of Ron Burgundy’s news team in Anchorman? (one point per correct answer)

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Who plays Dustin Hoffman’s wife in Kramer Vs Kramer? Meryl Streep? Bette Middler? Diane Keaton?
2. What is the name of the serial killer in Red Dragon? The Manhunter? The Banshee? The Tooth Fairy? [bonus point for naming the actor who played him]
THE TOOTH FAIRY [Ralph Fiennes]
3. Which actor effectively replaced Belushi in Blues Brothers 2000? John Goodman? Steve Guttenberg? Eddie Murphy?
4. What was the name given to the creature from the black lagoon, in the film of the same name? Wakulla? The Webbed Beast? Gill-man?
5. What is the name of the diner that Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega visit in Pulp Fiction? Jack Rabbit Slims? Peggy Sue’s? Daddy-O’s?
6. How many Dirty Harry films were made? Four? Five? Six?
7. What is the name of Lester’s daughter in American Beauty? Carolyn? Angela? Jane?
8. Which Rita Hayworth film are the cons watching in The Shawshank Redemption? Gilda? Lady From Shanghai? Cover Girl?
9. How many years passed between the release of Alien and Aliens? Seven? Eight? Nine?
SEVEN (1979 / 1986)
10. What is the name of the bartender in The Shining? Floyd? Roy? Lloyd?
11. How many robot versions of Bill and Ted (in total, not how many pairs) feature in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey? Two? Four? Six?
FOUR (Good Bill, Good Ted, Evil Bill, Evil Ted)
12. Jean Reno played Mufasa in the French language version of The Lion King. True or False?


Ambition Seduces, Power Corrupts

George Clooney

Ryan Gosling
George Clooney
Evan Rachel Wood
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Paul Giamatti

The film opens in the deciding stages of the nomination for the US Democratic Party presidential candidate. The only two contenders left standing are a Senator from Arkansas (Senator Pullman) and Mike Morris [Clooney] of Pennsylvania. Within the first ten minutes it becomes quickly apparent that this film is less about the numbers, polling, speeches or wins and more about the back-room deals and driving force behind the two candidates. Morris’ campaign manager is run by the experienced but relatively paranoid Paul Zara [Hoffman] and his incredibly affable Junior Manager, Stephen Meyers [Gosling], leading the Pullman campaign is Tom Duffy [Giamatti], who is showing interest in Zara’s protégé. Everything starts well enough, Morris is a very idealistic individual with a very aggressive liberal policy but has enough support to make him a viable contender; furthermore we are led to believe that the Republican party haven’t got anyone who could openly oppose their candidate. On top of all this, Meyers genuinely believes in the man, the campaign and the cause; as with most young minds in politics, he genuinely believes getting his man in office is the right thing to do and the only way to bring about change. Having established all the players, Meyers receives a phone call from Duffy asking for a meeting to exchange important information. Against his better judgement, Meyers agrees to the meet, in which he is offered a job – to prove the offer is legitimate, Duffy reveals a strategy that will be hitting the newspapers the following day, a move which will completely wipe out Morris’ chance of staying on the ballot. As the ‘sure things’ chances diminish, Meyers becomes more and more pressed on whether or not he can do the right thing. At the same time, he has formed a secretive relationship with one of the interns (Molly, as played by Evan Rachel Wood), which exposes him to a disillusioning truth concerning Mike Morris. As everything comes to a head, Meyers’ integrity and loyalties are tested.

Despite how this film has been advertised or how it may appear, the main drive is less about the corruption of politics and more about whether a good man can retain a sense of righteousness or if the constant barrage of underhandedness will cause an eventual break. Granted, the film heavily deals with the tug-of-war between the idealistic and realistic natures of those in politics but it’s passionate without descending into a policy lecture and emotionally engaging without being overwhelming or heavy-handed. Much like The Social Network, which was branded as ‘the Facebook movie’, The Ides Of March needn’t have been about a political race, as the central focus is on the cynicism and under-handed tactics used by individuals seeking power or progression and its ability to crush (some would say naïve) dreams of integrity. The only reason any of the above actually works is down to the all-round stellar performances. Similar to one of Clooney’s previous directorial projects, Good Night, And Good Luck, he has assembled several brilliant and extremely talented individuals for both lead and supporting roles, which means even characters who may be on screen for only a handful of scenes are completely memorable, due to the casting decisions made. Taking the helm, Gosling’s transition from idealistic aide to jaded schemer is exceptional, bouncing back-and-forth between righteous passion, disgruntled vengeance and forlorn regret. Clooney also plays an interesting supporting role with less screen time than you might have thought; additionally, despite the ideological speeches his character is revealed to be a bit of a swine. But that’s the beauty of the entire piece, almost no one is clear-cut good or bad, there are no heroes or villains, just people.

As well as artistically speaking, the film works extremely well from a technical standpoint. Over the last few films (possibly excluding Leatherheads) Clooney has proved that he has a distinct eye for cinema and knows how to decently arrange and pace a commanding theatrical thriller. If anything seems out of place it’s the random passage of time sequences which are laced with Alexandre Desplat’s pleasing but often muddled score. It’s not that the incidental music is bad, it simply feels a little out of place at times, ranging from triumphant strings to patriotic brass but when it works, it works brilliantly – case in point, the final scene is accompanied by a beautifully unsure, tense and haunting piece that really ends the movie beautifully.

**Spoilers layered throughout this paragraph**
Now, I’d desperately love to award this film an eight out of ten but despite thoroughly enjoying the story, I had one key complaint: Evan Rachel Wood’s character was an utter waste. Ms. Wood played the role as well as possible but falls victim to the ‘woman in the refrigerator’ plot device. If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s a phrase coined in the comic industry as a reaction to the only way to seemingly instil an emotional response from a male character is to kill his girlfriend; thus implying that women’s roles in the medium are solely supportive to the males and are highly disposable. As the tension built in the story (I’m just going to assume you’ve seen the movie and speak candidly), you start to wonder whether Meyers will actually betray this young woman, just to destroy the campaign out of spite. But before he can actually make a decision (one he will have to live with for the rest of his life), it’s already made for him. Subsequently, he’s being played but it completely cheapens Molly’s plight and eventual death.

Something worth noting, this isn’t The West Wing. I realise that may sound ridiculous but The West Wing is a phenomenal television series which happened to cover the election campaign a fair few times and did it without sinking too heavily into American political jargon – well it did, all the time actually but it explained it clearly. I’m not saying I’m not interested in this film because it’s about US politics or because it didn’t explain US politics to me but I feel it will hurt the film’s international standing. Finally, this is an adaptation of a play and not all adaptations are well-received because of their pacing and focus on specific exchanges. I personally love adaptations of theatrical work and hold them in high regard because it challenges actors, forces the story to really focus on powerful and meaningful conversations and ensures the story is plot driven rather than a gimmicky mess. Unfortunately, as far as the industry is concerned, it doesn’t follow what is considered the standard contemporary routine and may be perceived as slow, boring or lacking in climax. I don’t necessarily think this is the case but I feel the film will suffer because of it. Overall, I found The Ides Of March to be a highly commendable character study, decently directed and extremely well acted but whether it finds an audience and sufficient accolades or not will remain to be seen.

Release Date:
28th October 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
As this is based on a play, there are a handful of key interactions that play out extremely well but surprisingly enough, it’s usually the moments where the camera lingers on a calm stillness that captivates the audience the most. Specifically, Morris calls Zara into his car for a brief word and without ever hearing the exchange, the camera slowly zooms in on the stationary car. We all know what’s going on in the vehicle but we don’t need the details. Another example takes place after Meyers leaves Molly’s hotel, simply sitting in the car, the windscreen wiper intermittently activating. All of these quiet moments culminate in the final scene which simply presents the silent analysis and inner-thoughts of the lead character.

Notable Characters:
Naturally, Gosling does an exceptional job here but as a massive Giamatti fan, who relishes any opportunity to watch him act in literally anything, I can’t help but commend him. As with most of the supporting elements, Giamatti’s character is only given a handful of scenes to deal with but the calculative nature, bitter cynicism and more importantly, almost self deprecatory torment at work in Tom Duffy is enthralling stuff.

Highlighted Quote:
“I’ll do or say anything if I believe in it.. but I have to believe in the cause”

In A Few Words:
“Beautiful illustrative look into the moral obstacles and back-room deals of political campaigns”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #56

[09 October 2011]

Winning Team:
Batman Biggins

Genre – A farce in which Christopher Biggins is the Dark Knight of panto, putting the fear of God into villains with the phrase “He’s Behind You!”

Runners Up:
The Dark Knight Retunes
Genre – Harrowing times as Alfred attempts to cope with the digital switchover. Contains mild peril
Out On Bale (Swear To Me!)
Genre – Escape movie set in a cough sweet factory
The Dark First Night
Genre – Harrowing Ledger-on-Ledger action
Because We’re The Winners The Quiz Deserves But Not The Ones It Needs Right Now. So We’ll Lose Because We Can Take It. We’re A Silent Party, A Last Place. We’re The Quiz Dark Knights
Genre – Live-action animated biopic
The Dark Shite
Genre – Morgan Sperlock aims to fight iron deficiency by spending 30 days only eating liqourice, marmite and drinking guinness

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What type of mythical creature is Arial in The Little Mermaid?
2. What type of car is Herbie in The Love Bug?
3. What are the names of the factory workers in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory? [bonus point for correct spelling]
4. Who played the two lead roles in Dirty Dancing? (one point per correct answer)
5. Stephen Daldry‘s The Hours is broken into how many narrative threads?
6. What sporting event is Detective Rick Santoro at in the film Snake Eyes?
7. Jean Pierre Jeunet’s A Very Long Engagement is set during which military conflict?
8. What colour is Cameron’s father’s 1961 Ferrari GT California in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?
9. What is Reuben Cogburn’s nickname in 1969’s True Grit?
10. What was the subtitle to the sequel to 1998’s Elizabeth?
11. Which actors played the three lead roles in Airheads? (one point per correct answer)
12. What was Danny Boyle’s feature film directorial debut?

ROUND II: Filming [Christopher Nolan’s Batman Special]
1. What are the titles of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films? (one point per correct answer)
2. Who plays the title role in Nolan’s Batman releases?
3.Which of the two releases has the longer running time?
4. What is the colour of the flower that Bruce Wayne is instructed to fetch before he can begin his training?
5. Which two actresses play the role of Rachael Dawes? (one point per correct answer)
6. Before landing the role of Scarecrow, Cillian Murphy was considered and auditioned for which role?
7. What is the name of the hospital that the Joker destroys?
8. According to Lucius Fox, what is the name of the vehicle that becomes the batmobile?
9. Aaron Eckhart was hired after Christopher Nolan saw his performance in which film?
10. Which mob boss took over from Carmine Falcone, in The Dark Knight? [bonus point for naming the actor who played him]
SAL MARONI [Eric Roberts]
11. Outside of Wayne Enterprises, what is Thomas Wayne’s profession?
12. The Dark Knight made more money in 6 days than Batman Begins made over its entire US run. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What was the first feature film to be released by Fox Animation Studios in 1997?
2. What is Luther wearing on his fingers when he delivers one of The Warriors most memorable quotes (Warriors, come out to play)?
3. What was the title of the first sequel to a major motion picture to include a number?
4. Independent Moving Pictures Company was the original name for which major Hollywood studio?
5. The sound of which insect was worked into Carter Burwell’s score for Barton Fink, to add tension and unease?
6. Jamal’s final question in Slumdog Millionaire is about the characters from which book?
7. The box office takings for the first Shrek release were in excess of $484 million dollars, what was its budget?
8. The following is a quote from which Johnny Depp film, “In my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid and the envious. The stupid will like you in five years time. The envious, never”?
9. What did Martin Scorsese direct in between his remake of Cape Fear and Casino?
10. Who played Pip in the 1974 adaptation of Great Expectations?
11. What are Wyatt and Billy arrested for in Easy Rider?
12. According to the hieroglyphics at the start of The Fifth Element, how often does ‘the great evil’ appear?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. Which of the following is not the title of a Disney villain song? In The Dark Of The Night? Hellfire? The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind?
2. Which of Mozart’s operas do we see him working on first, in Amadeus? The Magic Flute? The Marriage Of Figaro? The Requiem Mass?
3. When brought back into the matrix, Neo sees a place he used to eat; what food does he compliment? Bagels? Tacos? Noodles?
4. Which of the following acted as a producer for David Lynch’s The Elephant Man? Mel Brooks? Anthony Hopkins? Francis Ford Coppola?
5. Which actress has played the role of young daughter to Bill Pullman, George Clooney, Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock? Dakota Fanning? Mae Whitman? Emma Roberts?
6. Which band/artist is Patrick Bateman playing and talking about when he kills Paul Allen [Leto] in American Psycho? Genesis? Huey Lewis And The News? Robert Palmer?
7. Which Irish actor did not feature in 1981’s Excalibur? Gabriel Byrne? Liam Neeson? Aidan Quinn?
8. What was the name of the Overlook Hotel’s previous caretaker in The Shining? Stuart Ullman? Delbert Grady? Dick Hallorann? [bonus point for identifying the last line of the film]
9. Which of the following did not star in the 1999 adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Christian Bale? Michael Keaton? Sam Rockwell?
10. For his role as King Of The Moon, in The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, how was Robin Williams credited? Ray D. Tutto? Don Del Dorian? Senor Wally Randall?
11. “She was too young to be a widow and too beautiful to be alone. Every man wanted to have her. One boy risked everything to protect her” is the tagline for which Italian film? 8 1/2? Malena? Stanno Tutti Bene (Everybody’s Fine)?
12. Staying true to the character, Daniel Day-Lewis built and lived in John Proctor’s house, in The Crucible. True or False?