Sunday, February 9, 2014

Remaking Robocop? SPOILERS GALORE

When I first heard of this remake I was slightly worried. I'm a big fan of the original film and couldn't think of a reason it needed to be remade.

The charm of the original lies , for me, in it being firmly set in its era. Despite it being set in the future. I like its brevity. There's nothing unnecessary in there. It doesn't waste my time, sticks to the point. It's point seems to be a worry about the future technology can bring and the age old tale of corruption. Special Effects not being entirely realistic has never marred my enjoyment of a good story. I like the theatre, I hope I have an active imagination to aid things.

I've heard that Robocop is a picture ripe for remake. It seems to me that what this means is 'We'll give it better effects.' Yes they did. The effects are a million times more convincing. There are also hundreds more instances of them throughout the film. There is also a warning in this film. One which they hammer home with the power of a dozen ED-209s. This is criticizing drone warfare and American control of other countries. The lack of finesse at getting this point across nullifies it.

This is a film for our time. Compared to the original it has to be longer with more of an emotional arc. Hence the extra scenes concerning wife and family. Scenes I could live without.

If there was no comparison piece I would probably have enjoyed this much more. I went in with my negative 'what's the need?' head on. It does look good. Taken as a piece of entertainment alone it doesn't do any harm. Some of the cast are excellent. I can't help but enjoy watching Michael Keaton. Oldman rarely sets a foot wrong for me. Marianne Jean Baptiste hasn't graced my screen for far too long. I'd pay too see Michael 'Omar' Williams mow the lawn. Everyone else did a pretty good job. I felt the wife and son were written in an obvious, boring way but that wasn't the actor's fault. Samuel L Jackson played a stereotype very well.

Enjoyment wasn't enhanced by the suit changing colour and the heavy message segment at the end.

All I all this isn't a horrible film. It's just not a good one either. It's lacking in subtlety and more upsetting, lacking in the charm of the film it threw a big budget at. It hasn't been relegated to the 'convinced  myself they don't exist' bin that the original film's sequels inhabit. Can't see myself ever watching it again though.

Hollywood, throw your dollars at something original, pretty please.

2 pawprints out of 5

Thursday, January 10, 2013

WWW Wednesday

This was a nice idea I stole from a blog I follow

It's just 3 quick questions.

Please play along by leaving a reply with yours.  I'm very nosy!

What are you currently reading?
The latest Bernie Gunther novel, Field Grey by Philip Kerr.  I was a bit unsure of this series when I started but I'm so glad I stuck with it.

What have you just finished reading?
A Kind Man by Susan Hill.  A strange novel, one that can't really be discussed without spoiling.  I'd recommend it though.  It's interesting and a short read.

What do you think you'll read next?
Mortuary Confidential by Todd Hara.  I saw this on a friend's blog it has to be read!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I found this on Facebook thanks to Marius whose blog can be found here
He was happy with his writing style being likened to the great Arthur C Clarke.

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I have to admit I was pretty chuffed with Lovecraft.  Though I assure you I differ greatly in mindset towards other things!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tome Time - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Started January 11th, finished February 17th.  534 pages.

This was a book suggestion for Great American Novel from Adnams.  Thanks for the recommendation.

I had no idea what the book was about before reading.  I just knew it was set during the Great Depression.  From the outset I was intrigued by the introduction of the characters.  My main aim was to find out what had happened to the people as they were introduced and how they'd got to where they were.  Just enough, a bit at a time was revealed about each.  I liked most of the characters.  This was where my difficulty with the book lay.  I liked these people, empathised with them to an extent.  This made it a very hard read.  There is no relief in this book.  The world they inhabit is one of the bleakest I have come across in fiction.  Made all the bleaker by it's reality.  This is our world at its worst.  No fantastical, supernatural forces or huge disasters.  Just a series of things going wrong through no fault of those that suffer.

The depiction of the pitfalls they encounter constantly and the 'nasty' characters willing to exploit them is very depressing.  This book is heartbreaking.  Your hindsight can see the folly in their plans and what is bound to happen.  Whilst knowing that there was no correct option anyway.  You wish there was an out for this family but you know that an unrealistic happy part would ruin the book.  

This is a very, very, good book.  I ma not sure it is one I will ever read again though.  I found it very hard going.  It may be shallow but I find I enjoy books where I can escape my little problems.  One where I leave them for 1000's of families in a dire situation didn't give me a sense of peace but of misery.

3.5 out of 5 pawprints  It only lost the 1.5 because it made me sad.

Next - River God by Wilbur Smith

Book 3 of 2012, total pages 1,082

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tome Time - The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr

Started January 3rd, finished January 10th. 272 pages.

As you may have noticed my blogging has been terribly ignored lately.  A combination of a busy time at work and home improvements has left me with little free time.    Apologies.

This is the second in the Bernie Gunther series of books.  Once more we're in 1930's Berlin.  This time Bernie is hired to try and solve the killings of many 'Aryan type' girls/young women.  This looks very much like the work of a sexually motivated serial killer.

The scene setting is again very good.  You find yourself immersed in the era.  It's a good story.  Full of the twists you expect from a thriller.  I had inklings of what was going on but never the whole picture.  Just how I like a novel.  

My only problem with the book is the name dropping.  There are a couple of very high ranking Nazi officials who pop up.  I know they give you something you think you recognise.  It doesn't work for me though it takes me out of it for  a second or two.  It's an easy way of giving a character plenty of weight.  We all think we know these people and definitely have opinions on them.  I would have preferred the characters to stay fictional though.  Not a big problem for me, just a niggle.

3.5 out of 5 pawprints

Next The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Book 2 of 2012, total pages 548

Friday, March 2, 2012


This Sunday t'other half and I made a trip to Blackpool to cheer on our running club mates in the Great North West Half Marathon.  We had lots to cheer about as our club had the highest turnout and took second and third place along with a massive amount of PBs.

The first few parts of Blackpool I saw were worse than I remembered.  The town is horrendously run down in parts.  It looks really bad in the back streets.  We drove North and parked near the Hilton to watch the race.  None of the hotels I saw convinced me it would be a good idea to spend the night.

After the race we went for lunch.  We found a nice little restaurant that was busy.  The food was fine, if the menu was stuck in the 1970's.  Not somewhere I'd return in a rush but not as bad as previous attempts at cuisine I've encountered in the town.

After lunch we just had enough time for the Tower.  I've never bothered before.  It's always fell under the stuff I sneer at.  Maybe it was time to loosen up and see if I could enjoy myself.  Well, the fact that it would close for maintenance the day after seemed like a sign we should go up.  So after being relieved of my £12.60 I found the badly signed lift.  Ascended to a floor which I assumed was the right one, lack of signage again.  Found the next stage which led us into the '4D' theatre.  After a bit of a wait...

in sexy 3D spec's, we went through to the theatre.  I won't spoil the film for you in case you're going to see it yourself.  I have to say though impressed wasn't an adjective that sprung to mind upon my exit.  Then another lift with a little spiel given about the Tower itself.  At the top you exit to either the inside observation deck or you can go up a short flight of stairs to an outside one.  As the weather was against us there wasn't a fabulous view, nor did it stretch very far.

The highlight of the observation decks is the Skywalk.  A glass floor for you to test your nerve walking across.  Now, I'd assumed this would be a very simple task.  However it made me feel very queasy.  My brain wouldn't override the safety warnings triggered by what my eyes could see.  Even though the view wasn't as scary as normal as there is work being done on the Tower and the scaffolding broke it a little.  It took a few tries before I could cross it and touch the glass on the other side.  This was most shameful as all logic told me not to be such a total wuss :-(

All in all, I won't be rushing back to Lancashire's most famous coastal town.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Iron lady

This was always going to be a hard film for me to judge.  Due to my dislike for the title character.

The film gives you a background to the character giving you the times she struggled due to her class and her gender.  It gives the impression of her as a feminist icon.  This I'd dispute, she fought for her rights and her career.  I can't think of an incidence of her improving conditions for her fellow women.

The period detail seems pretty good throughout the film as it progresses.  That's probably my favourite thing about the film.  Obviously I'm wrong, as everyone else loves it, but I didn't enjoy Streep's performance.  It was in the Michael Sheen, perfect mimic style.  I didn't get a sense of the woman or her feelings on anything, just that Meryl had her off to a T. The younger actress seemed to be doing more actual acting.

The film is as flimsy as it gets when it comes to a political stance.  Or even showing the consequences of her actions.  There are big events, some which would anger Sean Penn, but zero analysis.  This is a huge let down. I'd like to have seen it tackled in a similar way to McQueen's Hunger.  No sides taken but a proper look at its subject.

My biggest problem with the film was the fictional portrayal of a living woman and her 'hallucinations'.  It was a bad way to move the story along.  Put the facts on screen or tell a nice story about characters that don't exist.  Don't do half of each and portray an elderly, probably not very well, woman like this.  It leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.

All in all I liked this film a little more than I liked the woman herself.  I'd rather have watched a documentary.

1.5 pawprints out of 5