World War Z

It seems the zombie craze is what will overtake the vampire epidemic in cinema and television. Since the popularity of AMC’s The Walking Dead series, it is not surprising that Max Brooks’ fantastic novel World War Z has made it to the big screen. With such a Hollywood star as Brad Pitt being involved, there is no doubt that the film is going to have a good success. The film is an absolute suspense. Creepy dark rooms and zombies popping up when you least expect. The film is terrifyingly realistic when it comes to a zombie film. Like The Walking Dead, World War Z takes the emotional approach to the zombie film, avoiding the stereotypical slasher horror film. There is heart to the story, through the eyes of United Nations employee Gerry Lane and his family. It is a story of survival, coming together in hopes to save the human race. I guarantee that you will leave the cinema wondering if this apocalyptic world could one day be a reality. Max Brooks novel clearly succeeds in this and the film is ultimately on the same path. The only thing that has the film fall short of its powerful novel is that there could have been more from the novel inserted. Yes it is an adaptation of a novel but Brooks had some clever thoughts on what a zombie apocalypse could look like. Such things like the dogs being detectors of the infected, zombies surviving in the water/walking easily across the bottom, the cold/snow stopping the zombies in their tracks could have been great additions to the story. With such a rich novel to fall back on there could most likely be a sequel. Highly recommended that those who have seen the film or those planning to see it read the novel.

Overall rating 7/10

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md6Dvxdr0AQ

Beautiful Creatures (2013)

There’s something intriguing about Beautiful Creatures. It’s hard to put your finger on what it is that draws you in and yet at the same time leaves you thinking its somehow missing something. Perhaps it’s just me and my thrills when it comes to supernatural themed films but the romance somewhat overwhelmed the magical aspect of this film. None the less this is still a very good film. The costumes are stunning. The scenery is perfect for the story and captures the magic of it all. It seems the new way to go in film and television with the deep accents and locations of southern USA instead of the traditional Hollywood screen. Once again we can see a superb performance by Viola Davis starring as Amma. Along with Jeremy Irons, who you can never go wrong with, leads a wonderful and unique cast. Our Leading man Ethan Wate played by Alden Ehrenreich is charming, not hard to see why he was chosen to star as the film heart throb. And for those familiar with Emmy Rossum will be surprised at her darker and sexier role. Lena Duchannes played by New Zealand born Alice Englert plays a tricky role jumping between good and evil personalities. At first it was a little confusing who Lena’s character was from the wild emotional states she was in throughout the film. However now after seeing the film it becomes clear that this is how Lena’s life is like, torn between two paths and trying to find the balance. I think what this film is really about is the relationships between people and human nature. It’s not really about the magic, which is why when going into this film expecting a magical/fantasy film do not be surprised when you come out of it seeing it as more of a story of love and the human condition. If you love Practical Magic, you will enjoy this film. Overall a beautiful film about ‘beautiful creatures’ even if it is somehow missing something to give it that push to a higher rating.

8/10

Life of Pi (2012)

Whether or not you are a religious person, Life of Pi will touch you. It is the human and animal emotion that will leave you breathless. Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, Life of Pi is a magical adventure story of Pi Patel, the bright son of a zoo keeper. Pi’s family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival. Director Ang Lee brings Martel’s book to life in a wonder of colour. 3D or not the film captures a unique image of the world. The water is clear and the animals (a mixture of live action and computer generated) are amazing. The first time you meet Richard Parker the tiger you will fall in love with him. The story is heart retching and will be a serious eye jerker for many. The reason this film/book has such an impact on people is the uniqueness of the story. It is not one that has been heard before. I would warn those thinking of bringing children to this film however. While it is a PG film it contains content that children will most likely find confusing and/or upsetting. Overall a brilliant film filled with heart and soul.

Rating: 9/10

SKYFALL

Celebrating 50 years of Bond 007 is quite the milestone. The latest film Skyfall, like the last two films, puts bond on the scale of reality action. Unlike older Bond films where the gadgets are very futuristic, these films have a very natural stylised action. Daniel Craig has brilliantly embraced the Bond character and made it his own. A lot like Casino Royal audiences are shown a very serious heartfelt look at the epic character that is James Bond. In Skyfall we are revealed to Bond’s childhood and how this back story demonstrates the personality that makes bond the 007 we have come to love. The film cleverly links these early chapters of the bond saga with the older ones; we even finally get a Money Penny character emerge onto the screen. Where the previous film, Quantum of Solace over did the action sequences, Skyfall sits back a little on the action and focuses more on the narration, creating a well rounded plot with wonderful results. Opening with an awesome motorbike chase sets the scene for a very unique action film, ending with a powerful finale. The villain Mr Silva, played by Javier Bardem is very much a bond villain at heart. Bardem’s performance gets a great creepy and amusing reaction. Craig and Bardem do in fact work very well off each other making for great dialogue. I have to admit by the end it became a bit of a tear jerker but to find out why, you’ll have to watch it.To compare Skyfall to previous Bond films, it would most likely rank equally as great as Casino Royal in its own category of that Bond feel we have come to love.

Rating: 8/10

TELEVISION IN THE NOW

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The birth of television left radio, the book and the news paper in the gutters. Now with the explosion of the internet television too may be falling into the dark ages. We have internet television now, we have smart phones. If ‘video killed the radio’ then internet killed the TV. Television is becoming second rate, especially when advertising is concerned. If you’re not waiting until the TV show you love is out on DVD then you are probably illegally downloading it or scoring it off a friend who has. With recording your shows you can fast forward the adds, or with DVDs or pirating skip the adds all together. You are even capable of watching episodes on specific channels on their websites, in this case however there are usually adds involved. Today the news on the majority of television stations have very brief coverage. It is rushed and unless the story is extremely big you’ll hear 1-2 minutes of it and you’ll forget you even saw it a few days later. The newspaper business has fallen and numbers have dropped in purchases. With the increase in online news resources how long will it be before the television news too falls into the dead zone? Nick Bilton’s blog in the New York Times Bits section of the website has a similar idea, ‘Don’t Look for a TV in television’s future.’ People will be looking at television through their phones, computers and tablets. The only thing that still has a very powerful audience these days is reality TV and it is flimsy at the best of times. Reality shows like Australia’s Got Talent or The X-Factor are ones that triumph. These sorts of shows actually get the audience involved. They are opened to real people with hopes and dreams and are asked to vote in to save them. If there is singing or dancing involved I can easily understand the appeal but when it comes to shows like Big Brother or Survivor it’s a different story. These sorts of shows require the viewer to watch basic activities of everyday lives. At least with So You Think You Can Dance and X-Factor the people involved actually have talent and are passionate about a specific thing that can bring beautiful emotions to the audience. Those other shows however are just trying too hard to stand out on camera so they all start to swirl into a sea of crap television where nothing really interesting happens. Big Brother for example ran for eight seasons. By that stage it was considered the worst show on television. It had fallen to its former glory of the first season. The Ten Network declared it would never run again. Yet here we are in 2012 and channel nine has revamped it and stated it to be new/different/better. Reality shows claim to be better and different every year but they always result in the same things just with different people and perhaps some more money. It’s become a cliché and sadly whenever a country puts their own spin on it there is little enthusiasm. Television tries so hard to appeal to audiences. Everyone wants something different. You have your sports, news, reality soap operas, game shows, dramas, infomercials, kids and foreign. Today Australia along with the rest of the world, has leaped into digital television. Now we have seventeen stations on free-to-air television. Before the digital launch we only had five channels. Yet like pay TV so much of it is not worth watching. Increases in reruns have overrun the TV. Sometimes it always feels like its daytime television but on prime time. This madness has resulted because we now have so many channels and not enough shows to air that are actually new. Why is it that only on pay tv you are able to watch shows like what is aired on HBO in the states? It’s this evil corporation that is denying the word what it wants. This is the reason why there is so much piracy in the world. If the states released films and television shows at the same time around the world no one would pirate them. The same goes for any other country. It seems bizarre that they have not figured it out. The one thing that remains constant is that fact that we are all still glued to the idiot box, in any shape or form, whether it is the computer, mobile phone or TV. We are guarded by the fact that without them what would we do? Sure it helps with deforestation but we have simply jumped from one overly used object to another. We’ve plummeted into a world of technology and we will never go back to a past where it did not exist. Those fears of the machines taking over seem to become more realistic every day. Factories in some places all work with the lights off because their all controlled by machines. It’s a weird world we live in. Looking to the future I think television will exist just not as we see it now. We might be walking around one day with a chip in out head that with the control of our mind turn on the TV and its being projecting into our eyes and no one else can see. Now wouldn’t that be insane.

In a Matter of Taste

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Once we worshiped Greek gods. We built temples in their honour. We were even keen to give them human sacrifices. Thousands of years later we have a new kind of person to worship. We have TV celebrities. Along with the movie stars, the world is engrossed into the pop culture that is our television which so many of us congregate to every day. It is our new temple of worship where we can follow what’s going on at Ramsey Street, or Wisteria lane. We can watch the cops take down criminals and not have to get off the couch. Now with the launch of internet TV’s we can even buy all the memorabilia of our favourite show or film. Levy’s idea of ‘collective intelligence’ comes to mind. The obsessions can become insane. Take HBO’s True Blood for example. The title itself is based on the vampire solution of drinking blood. You can just buy a six pack of genetically made blood from your supermarket to help with your vampire cravings. Guess what all you True Blood fans, now you can buy the stuff in real life. It’s not actually blood, just a red coloured drink (apparently it does not taste that great) imitating the true blood drinks in the show. It doesn’t stop there people, oh no, you can get yourself fangtasia t-shirts, Merlot’s waitress uniforms, true blood forsaken perfume, a recipe book of all the memorable meals seen on the show, nail polish, Bon Temps Football Hoodie, ‘I LOVE ERIC’ t-shirts, along with every ‘…is mine’ t-shirts imaginable. It doesn’t even stop there. There are Facebook apps (one called “Immortalize Yourself” allows you to put yourself into a scene), iPod/iPhone/iPad apps, wallpapers, and games. The games and quiz’s can get out of control. You can take a quiz to see, ‘Whose Your Werewolf Boyfriend?’, ‘Which True Blood Character Are You?’ and so more. The obsession to become so deeply entwined in a show/film/actor/character is scary at times. Fan bases can become overly passionate and can at times be very dangerous (we all remember The Dark Knight Rises incident with gunman James Holmes). Henry Jenkins speaks of the term ‘fan’ never truly escaping implications of ‘religious and political zealotry, false belief, orgiastic excess, possession, and madness’. It is however necessary to be reminded that it is just another sign that a show can become popular. Fans create the availability to have collectables which increase the wealth of a show. It allows for bigger budgets and better pay for the stars and crew. It keeps a show going. The first episode of True Blood resulted in a very modest 1.44 million viewers. By late November 2008 though, 6.8 million a week were watching, this included repeat and on-demand viewings. The season finale’s had 2.4 million watching. It hit new records in 2011 of the fourth season with the ninth episode coming out with 5.53 million viewers, making it the most viewed episode to date. These are only the US stats; imagine if it aired around the world at the exact same time? It is HBO’s most watched show since The Sopranos.  So why are so many people going crazy for True Blood. Well except for Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel series’ it’s the only other vampire show that has successfully attracted all sorts to the uniquely placed supernatural drama. You could place it in any kind of genre really. It could easily pop into science fiction, fantasy or horror.  With most HBO shows, True Blood has sex and nudity, and a lot of it. HBO’s openly sexual orientation makes it appealing to the younger generation. Nothing is out of the question.As the station has stated ‘It’s Not Television, It’s HBO’.  True Blood has aired scenes of audaciously outrageous imagery, including orgies and threesomes. (When I tried to get my boyfriend to watch the show all I described it as was vampires and lots of sex and blood, it worked like a charm.) While the nudity is a major part of the show it is not the core. It’s a show about vampires coming out to the world, revealing to the humans that there are unnatural forces in the world. We come across not only vampires but werewolves, werepanthers, witches, Greek mythological creatures (Maenad), shape-shifters, fairies and more to come in future seasons. True Blood explores in metaphorical ways of the everyday and political issues we face. The vampire acceptance issue can clearly be seen as a metaphor for gay rights or racial tensions, in fact the racial tension is literally explored within the show. Having the show set in Southern USA where the racial issues are commonly occurring allows for ‘in-your-face’ story telling. It is a unique location for a show. Majority of the time, American show/films are usually placed in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco or the occasional Boston or Chicago. Set in rural Louisiana, audiences get to see a different America. Now days the Southern USA viewpoint is becoming an ever growing television market. Around the world Swamp People and Turtle Man are people’s ‘go to’ reality TV shows. HBO has even had success with shows like Boardwalk Empire which is set in 1920s Atlanta. These are new times for television. People are now looking for different sorts of shows. It is not just about cops and robbers, doctors, and Two and a Half Men. People want serious dramas with fascinating stories and are now embracing the Supernatural and SciFi era. Soon there might not even be room for the overly done Soap Opera’s like The Bold and The Beautiful…and maybe that’s a good thing. =)