20/11/2014

GOTHAMIZED: BAT TEST - PODCAST


Gothamized is a completely unofficial guide to new series Gotham and a debate arena for all things Batman.



In this 12th episode, we discuss the eighth episode of Gotham, Black Mask, Judge Dredd, holes and we take a bat-test.

(for my written review of the Gotham Pilot, click here!)

Hope you enjoy it!

You can also find us on podcast The Big Rewind (available on iTunes) and send us emails with your Bat-questions, Six Degrees challenges and riddles here: gothamized@gmail.com

(for the pilot episode CLICK HERE)

17/11/2014

GOTHAMIZED: PLAYMOBIL BATMAN - PODCAST


Gothamized is a completely unofficial guide to new series Gotham and a debate arena for all things Batman.



In this 11th episode, we discuss the seventh episode of Gotham, Legos, umbrellas, Victor Zsasz, Captain Boomerang and wood.

(for my written review of the Gotham Pilot, click here!)

Hope you enjoy it!

You can also find us on podcast The Big Rewind (available on iTunes) and send us emails with your Bat-questions, Six Degrees challenges and riddles here: gothamized@gmail.com

(for the pilot episode CLICK HERE)

THE KARATE KID - REVIEW


The film that cemented for many of us the awesomeness that is Karate, the film that made Ralph Macchio into an eternal teen movie star, the film that gave true meaning to fence-painting and car-waxing, the film that turned showers into a legitimate Halloween costume, the film that made children befriending strange old men totally ok...

I'm talking, of course, about The Karate Kid.

Here's a perfect example of what makes a great sports movie: a film which glorifies the sport at hand to the point where it really makes you feel like it's super-important and actually quite deep without really being about the sport itself and focusing on the characters and their story arcs. The philosophy at the heart of Karate is the key component which drives the film and gives this troubled Daniel-san focus. It's also the reason why good old Mr Miyagi (Pat Morita) is as iconically loveable as he is in these movies, always dispensing abstract yet ever-valid wisdom and effortlessly kicking ass when he needs to. The real strength of this movie is its characters and their memorable portrayal by the entire cast. Both Macchio and Morita give really strong, real performances and their seemingly unlikely friendship is instantly believable. On paper, The Karate Kid is full of typical 80's teen movie clich├ęs: over-the-top bullies/villains, a Halloween party, an intense contest at the end, a romance with the usual conflicts... and yet this movie makes all of it work brilliantly.

Sure, the flick is dated in that it's crazy 80's but its core morals and character relationships are so solid that they still feel relevant. This is a really fun movie with a lot of heart and some humour to it too. It definitely has some naivety to it but that only serves to show how Daniel grows up through this intense mini-adventure. Essentially, the scale of this whole plot is minuscule but it still feels epic somehow. Those bullies may just be random douchebags but you can totally see why they're a huge problem for Daniel. Martin Kove's nutty Sensei is also a genuine threat since his army-style take on Karate is harsh to say the least. Elisabeth Shue is also in this movie as Daniel's love interest because it's the 80's and a young romance must involve Elisabeth Shue at all costs.

There's a simple reason why the original Karate Kid is still just as good to sit through today and why it remains a classic and one of my personal favourites: it just gets everything right. It's a small story told really well and one which "gets" Karate and which cares about its characters.

And yes, I'm happy to report that the ending (and that darn "You're The Best" song) is just as cool as it always was.

Now back to my Karate training...

*sands the floor*

16/11/2014

THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER - REVIEW


Werner Herzog famously cast then non-actor Bruno S. in this bizarre little film about a man who grew up being kept locked up in a dark basement who suddenly finds himself released in a small town.

The townspeople don't really know what to make of him, treating him like a prisoner, an animal and a child at various points until a well-off man takes him under his wing and teaches him the ways of the world, even ultimately going as far as attempting to introduce him to high society. The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser begins almost like a silent film as we get a glimpse of Hauser's day-to-day life pre-freedom. It's sinister, odd and remains a bit of a mystery for the rest of the film as a man dressed in black releases him randomly then occasionally pops back into his life, following him like some kind of lingering shadow of doom.

While not a documentary, Herzog doesn't over-stylise the film making it's Plato's cave-style plot more palatable and Kaspar Hauser's character arc easier to identify with. Being an early effort for the director, there are a few experimental visual touches here and there as the settings are shown to us through what looks like expressionist paintings every now and then. Bruno S. turns out to be the perfect casting choice for the role: there's a real innocence in his eyes and the way he talks is appropriately off-beat, there's also a fragility to him and you can tell this was a story he personally identified with. The film plays out a little like something akin to Being There, with a candid character discovering the world for the first time, which makes the surprising downer ending all the more impactful.

Fans of Werner Herzog's work should definitely check out The Enigma Of Kaspar Hauser, it's a strange character study but one that's worth sticking around for.

12/11/2014

THE BIG REWIND: EPISODE 45 - PODCAST


In this 45th episode, Adam (aka The RetroCritic) and fellow film buff Jamie discuss movie news, review Interstellar and talk retro stuff.


Email us here if you have any questions, requests or contributions: bigrewindpodcast@gmail.com

Or simply comment below :)

Oh and you can also find us on iTunes where you can subscribe to the podcast and download every episode thusfar!

@TheRetroCritic
#TheBigRewind
retrocriticblog.blogspot.com

11/11/2014

INTERSTELLAR - REVIEW


After finally letting go of his (and our) beloved Dark Knight trilogy, Christopher Nolan finally ventured into the unknown, to more ambitious cinema where no man has gone before.

Well, maybe Kubrick...

Still, with Gravity greedily and, some would say, undeservedly claiming the space opera genre last year, only Mr Nolan could swoop in and reclaim it with a movie crazy enough to make you completely forget that Sandra Bullock was once spinning around somewhere.

The film, of course, is Interstellar: a grand sci-fi blockbuster in which an ex-engineer/space pilot-turned farmer leads an expedition through wormholes and strange planets in what is essentially Earth's very last hope for survival as our world literally turns to dust. We spend some time with Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his family which includes his young daughter Murph (later played by Jessica Chastain) who seems to believe in ghosts and his father-in-law, played by a sadly once again restrained John Lithgow. Cooper then stumbles onto what's left of NASA and Michael Caine's scientist eventually convinces him to leave his family and set out for a nutty space mission he can't be sure he'll ever come back from. His departure into space is predictably met with bitter tears by Murph yet he still blasts off into the stars with another Oscar-friendly co-star (Anne Hathaway), a couple of other dudes and a blocky robot called TARS.

We finally wave bye-bye to farming and the rest is a visually arresting adventure through space you definitely won't want to miss. While Inception promised us a world of dreams and delivered very little in the way of eye-catching surrealism save for a train on the road, a paradox and a bendy city... oh and awesome gravity-defying hotel room shenanigans, Interstellar treats us to a 2001: A Space Odyssey-level scale with some surprisingly abstract moments, not to mention fancy new worlds and many more surprises I wouldn't dare ruin for you. This is Nolan at his most ambitious and his most creative and although the film's last half hour will probably alienate some, others will love the director's bold and out-there approach. The man hasn't shown this much willingness to go all out since The Prestige and it feels great.

Interstellar may look amazing but it's also full of fantastic performances, big philosophical what-ifs and nail-biting sequences which should be unbeatable for the rest of this year at the cinema. Even poor old Smaug should find himself beaten and whimpering in shame come December. Interstellar could prove too far-reaching (literally) for a few but, even then, this is unlikely to become another Prometheus, inexplicably reviled by so many. This is a Christopher Nolan film so, ultimately, there'll always be a pretentious speech here, a joke that falls flat there but, on the whole, Interstellar remains a masterful spectacle, a unique emotional experience and a movie you'll want to debate about long after watching it.

Further proof that Christopher Nolan can basically pull off just about anything at this point, Interstellar is a long one but it's paced appropriately and delivers enough action, brains (in a Star Trek kind of way, of course) and emotion to keep you fascinated throughout.

Stellar.

07/11/2014

FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR - REVIEW


Back when E.T. was all the rage and a few copycat movies quickly followed from *batteries not included to Mac And Me, Flight Of The Navigator came out and it was obviously seen as not much more than yet another E.T. rip-off.

Luckily, the film was also all kinds of great and arguably even better than Spielberg's movie in some ways.

The film opens with a montage showing dogs catching, or rather attempting to catch, frisbees in what is both a completely irrelevant and completely wonderful opening title sequence. Initially set in the 70's, the plot sees a kid, David (Joey Cramer), wander into the woods at night only to slip and fall before waking up 8 years later in the same spot. Meanwhile, NASA come face to face with a silver, very light walnut-shaped UFO and try to keep the discovery under wraps. That is, until David's mysterious disappearance turns out to be related to that UFO somehow by which point NASA promptly "invites" the boy over for a couple of days so he can be examined and all the alien data in his brain can be recorded. Much to their surprise, however, David jumps into the UFO and flies it as far as possible thanks to the help of a young Sarah Jessica Parker.

Flight Of The Navigator's concept is pretty genius: a young boy travelling the world and through time at break-neck speed in a cool spaceship voiced by Pee-Wee Herman (aka Paul Reubens)? Talk about a great idea for a kids' movie! The film itself is stylish and really well made not to mention completely charming thanks to a tight, funny script, a solid cast and a simple yet effective plot full of likeable characters. The special effects are also well worth it as they even include some cool Jim Henson-style puppet-work. There's definitely an E.T. or Starman-esque nostalgic feel to the whole thing but the film definitely has its own unique personality. It's just a sweet, clever, fun movie all the family should enjoy.

Whether you prefer E.T. or Flight Of The Navigator, chances are if you like one, you'll like the other. The latter is a great sci-fi kids movie which deserves more recognition as it's more than just Spielberg-lite fare.

A classic gem.

GOTHAMIZED: GOATAMIZED - PODCAST


Gothamized is a completely unofficial guide to new series Gotham and a debate arena for all things Batman.



In this 10th episode, we discuss the sixth episode of Gotham, goats, Halloween costumes, Dolly Parton and chickens.

(for my written review of the Gotham Pilot, click here!)

Hope you enjoy it!

You can also find us on podcast The Big Rewind (available on iTunes) and send us emails with your Bat-questions, Six Degrees challenges and riddles here: gothamized@gmail.com

(for the pilot episode CLICK HERE)

THE BIG REWIND: EPISODE 44 - PODCAST


In this 44th episode, Adam (aka The RetroCritic) and fellow film buff Jamie discuss movie news, review Dracula Untold and talk retro stuff.


Email us here if you have any questions, requests or contributions: bigrewindpodcast@gmail.com

Or simply comment below :)

Oh and you can also find us on iTunes where you can subscribe to the podcast and download every episode thusfar!

@TheRetroCritic
#TheBigRewind
retrocriticblog.blogspot.com

04/11/2014

THE BABADOOK - REVIEW


Good news, everyone!

Mel Gibson is no longer the scariest thing to come out of Australia!

This Halloween, the likes of Ouija and Annabelle may have competed for the box-office top spot but it's likely to be off-beat Australian entry The Babadook we'll remember long after as it's very likely to become a cult hit and inevitably should spawn several sequels.

Also, its silly title is pretty unforgettable not to mention a lot of fun to say out loud.

The movie sees a super stressed-out and frankly worn-out mother (played by Essie Davis) attempt to take care of her hyper, trouble-making young son several years after her husband died in a car accident. Her misery does nothing but increase like crazy throughout the movie as her so-called friends fail to support her emotionally, shunning her and her son, the boy's school comes down on him unfairly and insensitively, plus there's the small matter of a creepy children's book called The Babadook which freaks the kid out to the point of becoming the source of much terror.

To be fair, that book's pretty messed-up.

The son, played by an impressive Noah Wiseman, starts to believe in the existence of some monster known as Mr Babadook and this obsession only serves to bring his mother to boiling point as, in the film's intense last half hour, she really loses it and becomes a real danger for the child (and... the dog). The main question we ask ourselves, of course, is whether this "Babadook" is real or just a fragment of her child's vivid imagination or even a hallucination brought on by her own insomnia. The film will definitely keep you on edge the entire time as every word, every action, every sound is carefully crafted to be as unsettling and uncomfortable as possible. After an hour of watching this woman suffer in various ways, you'll be suffering too and the mixed emotions you'll have for both these main characters will only stress you out more making the sudden arrival of the titular monster that much more unpleasant.

Though The Babadook most definitely has its scary moments, the film doesn't really go for cheap thrills instead focusing on being a character study that just happens to be incredibly dark. The brilliant performances and the film's (not to mention its fictional book) visual style elevates it from being just another typical boogeyman horror flick to something a bit more substantial. The ending may lack some much needed full-on scares but this is one film which, thanks mostly to its spot-on build-up and unique imagery, should stay with you for quite a while.

While it could have easily been much scarier and that Mr Babadook is arguably not seen enough in the flick, it remains one of the best horror movies in recent years and I, for one, would welcome a re-watch down the line, even follow-ups.

Take note, Hollywood horror flicks.

This is how it's Ba-ba-done.

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