Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Avatar 3D? Denied.

This evening was supposed to be a trip to see Avatar 3D. Sadly the snow - or people's inability to handle snow - got in the way.

The snow in Reading is reasonably deep for the region - about 7 inches. Normally we have zero at this time of year. I'm working from home as the 2 mile trip to work is not ideal; tomorrow the office is closed due to the weather so the choice is gone anyway.

Tonight I catch the (delayed) train one stop into Reading. The walk isn't too bad to and from the station - lots of snow rather than ice - and soon I'm in the Hobgoblin pub with a pint of perry before the film.

Gavin then informs me that the cinema - which was open at lunchtime - is now closed so we stay in the pub. I let the control centre (the wife) know. I'd checked at the station earlier and knew that as long as I was out of the pub by 11pm I'd catch the last train.

Come 9:15am and I receive a text from head office (the wife) that "the trains will stop earlier than they said". Being in the pub still seemed fun so I imagined I would now be walking back to Woodley come 11pm.

Eventually we left the pub and parted ways near Reading College. I phoned home to let Sue know what was going on, only to be told that I should have phoned earlier as her text message about the trains no longer applied. Thanks. So now I could walk 2/3 of a mile back to the station for a train that may, or may not, still be there or continue the two and a quarter miles home.

I chose the latter and, as I munched a packet of chips I bought on the way, the Earley train could be seen trundling through the night towards Woodley. I still had an hour to go ...


Wednesday, December 30, 2009


A day at the cinema

I almost went to watch three movies in a day, like I did a few years ago, but decided to save Avatar for a session with friends.

First film was an evening showing of 2012, a thoroughly annoying film on many levels.

First the quack science about neutrinos had my teeth on edge. And the cracks in the ground that were supposedly unrelated to tectonic movements. Gah!

Then the escape sequence down routes where no-one in their right mind would contemplate going; superheroes, maybe, but not real people. And collapsing terrain that does so at exactly the same speed as the escaping vehicle, regardless of the speed of said vehicle. For huge distances. The effects did look amazing but this treatment didn't generate tension as the situations just turned ridiculous.

The geologist's "open the gates" speech really wound me up with its humanitarian rubbish. Millions upon millions have just been left to die - a few thousand more is not going to be a big deal and certainly won't convince the other world leaders to jeopardise the whole escale plan. He should have been shot instead.

I suppose I should commend the film makers for the variety in ways in which minor character were killed off - volcano, drowning, plane crash, falling, machinery, aircraft carrier - although, not surprisingly, none of the children died. In fact, quite the opposite - the daughter was able to stop wetting the bed by the end of the film. This was by far the most ludicrous part of the film - a child was able to throw off whatever minor hangups she had at the beginning of the film without gaining any new mental disorders from avoiding death on multiple occasions. I would imagine most children would have nightmares for months after surviving the end of civilisation as we know it.

But were there any redeeming features? I did enjoy the special effects and the representation of large-scale destruction. Would I watch it again? Probably not.

On the other hand, my second film Up is thoroughly recommended. This animated film was pure class - at times really sad and then funny and exciting. All the animation was top notch - I wish we had watched it earlier in the season as we may then have gone out to catch the 3D version too. I'm not sure I would have been able to handle the scenes upon the dirigible - the perceived height made my buttocks clench in 2D so I hate to think what the version with proper depth to it would do for me.

I did learn a few things from the film, such as what a snipe hunt is.

Avatar will be next week, I expect. Not sure about which version to see. I've read one report that compares the 2D and 3D versions - the 2D was regarded as a better experience due to the lush use of colours in the movie that do not come across in the 3D version due to the glasses. Must ask some local people their opinion...


Thursday, November 05, 2009



Just seen "9" at the cinema. A technically well-made film but one that left me wondering at the end "what's going on?" Maybe I'm supposed to appreciate the film for what it is without trying to find some deeper understanding. I'm sure the writer knew what was going on in the story but they weren't helping me too much. I shouldn't be sitting here thinking through the film in my head so I can work out why things happened the way they did.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Terminator Salvation

I'm on holiday so it's off to the 11:15am showing of the latest Terminator movie at the Showcase cinema down the road (sorry, Gavin).
The whole building seemed deserted - two staff on the ground floor (one for ticket sales, the other on food and drinks) and no customers to be seen. In screen 11 there must have been only 5 other people watching the film with me - perfect.

The film itself isn't too bad - not an epic sequel in the way T2 followed T1 (or Aliens followed Alien for that matter), but adequate to flesh out more of the Terminator storyline.

Instead of reviewing the plot, I'll list the good/bad points.

  1. Loved the hardware. The Skynet mechs and aircraft look great but some basic physics was ignored - harvester mechs are very heavy and so cannot creep up on ANYONE undetected; if a truck driving past would rattle the windows then a harvester mech is going to make the frames come out.

  2. Every now and then you would see a scene that would be a random encounter in a D&D game. For example, a bunch of hydrobots attack for no good reason except to show off a mech designed for the movie.

  3. Nobody ever bruises, even when they have been used as a club to demolish the scenery.

  4. Terminators fire a vast amount of ammunition and so should be lugging behind them a hopper the size of a Grundon full of bullets.

  5. The CGI for the closeup of the cyborg's face is awesome.

  6. Why does SkyNet have to act like a stereotypical James Bond villain and explain the plot?

  7. How do portable radios work between one person who's inland and another that is at least 500 miles away and underwater? The Transformers sequel did this as well between someone in Giza and the captain of an aircraft carrier who must be at least 100 miles away.

  8. The mute little girl seemed a rip-off of Newt from Aliens.

  9. Reading the wiki, I see that the re-use of phrases and scenes from the earlier movies was a deliberate homage. That's cool.

  10. Medical facilities in a post-apocalyptic world are second to none.

  11. Why is SkyNet's HQ designed and laid out to be used by people?

  12. Arnie!


Friday, February 15, 2008



Just got back from the cinema watching "Cloverfield". I'd seen the trailer while looking for a film worth going to see and thought the film showed a lot of promise as long as it wasn't too "twentysomething".

"Cloverfield" is short (84 minutes) and apparantly cost US$25M (comparable to "Atonement" at US$30M and way short of the US$200M for "I Am Legend") which I expect was soaked up by the impressive CGI. It has a good block of character-building at the start, some impressive large-scale action and several quick scary scenes where you're not sure what's going to happen.

I do like my SF films to be believable - if I can get through without too many "you wouldn't be able to do that" or "who are they trying to kid?" then it's a success. Just like in life, it's the mistakes that stick in your memory, so the fewer the better means enjoyment all round. Fortunately there are not too many - maybe 900 kg bombs aren't as destructive as a I thought.

And should you ever feel the need to try and rescue your loved one from a disaster area, don't. You'll only make your friends feel obliged to help you which means they'll end up dead too. Remember, you can always find a replacement loved one.


Saturday, August 26, 2006


Cars - see it today

Just been to see the Pixar/Disney movie "Cars" and it was excellent. It is really amazing how they can produce films this good - not just from an animation point of view but with such great story-telling. The finale had me with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. This is all the more surprising because all along you know what's going to happen, more or less. As soon as arrogant, uncaring Lightning McQueen appears, the movie has to be about turning his personality around and after that there is little deviation. The good win, the bad lose, and we all go home satisfied.

Highlights for me are:

  • The Italians (Luigi, a 1959 Fiat 500, and Guido, a Isetta-style forklift - they are a fantastic stereotype that only know about Ferraris.
  • The flies - occasionally there are some bugs flying around which are tiny little VW Beetles, a lovely touch.
  • The Arizona-style scenery is lovely and well created.
  • Right at the end, there is a drive-in-movie scene where they pay homage to other movies - very well observed comedy.

Low points


Sunday, August 07, 2005


Oooh, that was scarey!

Just got back from watching The Descent and I'M not going caving again, oh no, no way no how.

And I'm someone who hasn't swam in the sea since Jaws in 1975!


Thursday, July 07, 2005

Not the best of days to talk about great films. I could say "life goes on" but, for many today, it doesn't.

Sin City
I'd been looking for an opportunity to watch this comic adaption since I saw the trailers. I'd never read the Sin City comics - in fact I don't read too many comics as I can't justify the expense - but this film is definitely an advert for looking them up. The whole movie reeks of style - the use of touches of colour in a black and white film is excellent. And the acting - I just love Bruce Willis, definitely a modern replacement for Clint Eastwood in my books. Mustn't forget the babes - a good-v-evil conflict with an Anne Summers wardrobe. Perfect.


Thursday, December 30, 2004

Caught the 10:30pm showing of The Incredibles and was VERY impressed. The 2-hour film was just such a delight to watch, even if you didn't grow up on SuperHero comics like me (or James Bond movies come to that). The style of the artwork on the characters was lovely, the CGI on everything - especially the island - was simply fabulous. At times I was enthralled just watching the water rippling. Loved the ending - comic-geek heaven.


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