Archive for December, 2011


Film 2011

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Since having Sky HD installed, the wife and I have visited the cinema less and less. This year, we managed a measly four films at the cinema. As cinema ticket prices continue to increase, coupled with Sky’s insistence on showing movies on Box Office the day they are released on DVD, I can only see this trend of ‘Let’s wait for it to come on Sky’ continuing. Fewer films have me dying to see on their opening night (or very early in their release). That’s not to say 2011 was a bad year, there were tons of good movies released this year, we just didn’t watch them at the flicks. Maybe we are destined to save the cinema for the truly epic movies that need to be viewed on the biggest screen possible. That doesn’t explain why we saw Paul and The Inbetweeners at the flicks. I can only offer the explanation that we were really bored those evenings.

Here is a list of the films we saw at the flicks in 2011:

Super 8
Transformers: The Dark of The Moon
The Inbetweeners Movie

No contest, Super 8 was my film of the year. I thought it was a fantastic movie – it felt like I was watching a 25 year old movie for the very first time. It had a feel of ET and The Goonies about it, not just because the film was focused on a bunch of bmx riding school kids but because it had a classic 80s Steven Spielberg look and feel. For two hours I felt like a kid again. And that is what I want when I watch a film – to be totally mesmerised for two hours and transported to another world.

Paul was ok. To be fair, I can’t remember much about it apart from it had a few geeky sci-fi in-gags and it was not as entertaining as Shaun of The Dead or Hot Fuzz. The Inbetweeners was funny. An expanded episode from the series with a bigger budget, cast and a more scenic location. The juvenile language and jokes were even closer to the bone and therefore just as entertaining. As for Transformers – another disappointment just like the second film in the series. They really should’ve left it at one movie but you just know that is not the Hollywood way. If they do release a fourth movie in the series, you can be guaranteed we’ll ‘wait for it to come on Sky’.

My pick of the films released this year that we waited to watch on Sky (in no particular order):
Source Code
Fast Five
The Adjustment Bureau
Sucker Punch

The also rans:
The Green Hornet
The Rite
I Am Number Four
Drive Angry
Kung Fu Panda 2
Captain America: The First Avenger
Rise of The Planet of The Apes

Categories : Films, TV
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Nolan’s Batman

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With last week’s release of the official trailer for The Dark Knight Rises, it appears the hyperdrive is beginning to rev it’s engine for next summer’s big blockbuster.

Me, am I looking forward to it? If I’m brutally honest, I can take it or leave it. Personally, the last two movies, whilst both being refreshing, visual spectacles, haven’t done a great deal for me. And the reason why is because I’m too much of a Batman comic book fan.

As someone who has been reading and collecting Batman comics since the mid-eighties, with, at the last count, a collection comprising over 180 Batman related graphic novels and almost 1,000 Batman related comics, I actually have quite a deep rooted preference to how I want my Batman Universe to be portrayed. Out of the three directors that have taken a recent stab at Batman (Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher and Christopher Nolan), Tim Burton’s portrayals are by far my favourite. But hey, don’t worry, I’m not completely barking mad, I do rate Nolan’s films above Schumacher’s ‘fluorescent camp comedies.

For me, once when you’ve read a certain number of comics related to a particular character – written, pencilled, inked and coloured by a plethora of talent with their own take on that particular character’s appearance, behaviour and surroundings, you develop a filter. Whether it be Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man or in this case, Batman. In your mind, you have an image of the ‘right’ Batman, the ‘right’ Bruce Wayne, the ‘right’ Alfred, Robin, Commission Gordon, Batmobile, Gotham City, Wayne Manor etc etc etc. Different comics, created by different people throw different projections of these elements at you – and in your mind, you pick out the bits that best match the elements you hold dearest. For instance, an example of ‘my Batman’ is a combination of Neal Adam’s Batman from the late 60s, Brian Bollard’s Batman from The Killing Joke (the first Batman graphic novel I purchased incidentally) and the Paul Gulacy’s Batman from Prey. Tim Burton’s Gotham City in both Batman and Batman Returns was spot on for me. So was his Batmobile, Wayne Manor and Batcave. Michael Keaton’s acting as Bruce Wayne was close, but his appearance wasn’t. But it was still closer to my Bruce Wayne than Val Kilmer, George Clooney or Christian Bale. Christian Bale’s voice for Batman is the best. The Batman outfit is wrong in all the movies. If I was casting for the Batman movies, I’m not sure who I would cast as Bruce Wayne. Probably a unknown who had the physical appearance of Bruce Wayne, but we know Hollywood wouldn’t go with that.

Christopher Nolan actually got a lot of things right in his first two films. By that I mean a very accurate interpretation of certain comic books. In particular, Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Jim (Commissioner) Gordon is very accurate to the Gordon in Year One. But, it’s not accurate to the more consistent appearance of Gordon in the thousands of other publications. Am I being too harsh? Maybe. Is Nolan a huge Batman fan? Has he created these movies to match the Batman Universe that resides in his mind? Whatever. I can’t help having a very finite view of the characters and universe I love. The Scarecrow in Batman Begins was bang on! I thought Harvey Dent was portrayed brilliantly in The Dark Knight Returns and I was gutted that Two Face was killed off almost instantly. But as for the Joker – as memorising as Heath Ledger’s acting was, Mark Hamill’s Joker in the Batman Animated Series and recent Batman games is much closer to the mark for me, pardon the pun.

For a Batman film to work for me, it needs to closely match the universe I have in my mind and instantly transport me there, make me feel I am watching a live action representation of my imagination. Yes, I know that sounds like I want the impossible but I don’t seek perfection. I just want some key elements in the film to feel accurate to me. Make me think to myself “Yeah, that is exactly how my Bruce Wayne would behave” or “Wow! Now that IS the Batmobile!” Unfortunately, as good as the Nolan movies are, for me, Burton’s films ticked way many more boxes. And more importantly, get a lot of the key elements right. Look at the outrage that was generated when Daniel Craig was cast as James Bond. Blonde hair, blue eyes. For some devote fans, these minor miscasting details would’ve had Ian Fleming spinning in his grave.

I will watch the new Nolan film. As with reading comic books, I enjoy witnessing different people’s interpretations of the Batman Universe – if not to strengthen my vision of Batman then to introduce new elements that shape that vision. For instance, The Vengence of Bane (1993) – the first comic book appearance of Bane. In one particular series of frames, Batman and Bane are stalking eachother across the rooftops of Gotham. There is one frame where Batman touches the side of his cowl and activates his night vision – basically turning the white eyes of his cowl from white to green. I loved this!!! So simple. An awesome concept and something Batman had never done (to my knowledge before). Whenever Batman does something similar, be it in a comic or on screen, I think back to that shaping of MY Batman in Vengeance of Bane.

While I am on the subject of Bane, one final point. Have you seen the preview pictures and trailer for The Dark Knight Rises? What the hell is going on with Bane? Yes, I get it, this is Nolan’s interpretation of the man that breaks Batman, but from what I have seen, I think I actually prefer the Bane in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin!! Crikey.

Categories : Comics, Films, TV
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Amazon Kindle

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Recently, I’ve been getting more and more involved in producing books, book covers and magazines for the Kindle. I could continue using the excellent Kindle Previewer app on the Mac to view my work before sending to the client, but, you know me, I’m never going to turn down the opportunity to buy a new gadget.

So a couple of weeks ago, I purchased a Kindle 3G from PC World. Originally, I was just going to purchase the £89 base model, but after comparing the specs, I swayed in the direction of it’s bigger brother – packing a keyboard and free 3G. My thinking was that the free 3G would potentially come in handy when not connected to a WiFi network i.e. lying by the pool, sat waiting to board a delayed plane. I did buy the Kindle for work but if the wife and I can get some extra use out of it on holidays, then bonus!

I’m loving how when you connect it to the Mac via USB, it appears on the desktop as an external hard drive which you can just drag and drop files to. No need to add files via an app like the iPad. Take note Apple.

Navigating round the actual Kindle takes a bit of getting used to. Having owned an iPad for almost two years, I’m constantly touching the screen on the Kindle to select items – which obviously doesn’t work. You have to keep reminding yourself to use the scroll pad and buttons.

The only other issue I have with the Kindle is when you flick between pages of a publication. Instead of the black text disappearing and the new text appearing, the screen does this annoying thing of momentarily inverting to white text on a black background while it refreshes itself. Why does it do this? Is this something in the settings you can turn off?

All-in-all I’m quite satisfied with the Kindle. It’s very lightweight, easy to hold, easy to read (in decent light) and came in some lovely packaging.

I don’t think my iPad has anything to worry about. Apart from previewing work and reading the odd book while on holiday, the iPad is still my king-gadget.

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Latest Graphic Novels

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Some light Christmas reading. Batgirl: The Flood, Batman & Robin: Batman vs. Robin, Red Robin: Collision and Red Robin: The Hit List. All published by DC Comics and all purchased from Forbidden Planet.

Gutted that Red Robin: Collision is a second printing. That’ll teach me not to pre-order a graphic novel!

Categories : Comics, New Purchases
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