Sunday, January 30, 2011

Season of the Witch is burned at the stake

What a great movie to start the new year with. A medieval, fantasy, action, buddy-movie directed by director Dominic Swordfish Sena with Nicholas Cage and Ron Perlman as 13th century crusaders. What the fuck could possibly go wrong...?

Yes, you guessed it - almost everything.

Strangely Cage's torch didn't spontaneously extinguish in this scene

The movie opens with the execution of three suspected witches, revealing of course that not all of them were as innocent as they all were in reality. We are then treated to a montage of some of the final battles of the Crusades [with a chronological date on screen being 50 years after the crusades ended] featuring hopeless CGI armies. The scenes establish that our hero knights Behmen [Cage] and Felson [Pearlman] are the best of friends who later break their oath to the church once they are sent to kill innocents. They return to the coast of Styria [a province of Austria - a landlocked country somehow now with a coastline?] where they discover their homeland is in the grip of The Black Plague. Believing the plague to be a blight of the Devil brought down at the behest of a young witch Anna [Claire Foy], the church sends our heroes on a quest to deliver her to a remote monastery where she is to be judged by the monks there. The quest itself is the bulk of the movie and is very D&D/LOTR-style as our heroes are accompanied by a range of diverse characters including a noble paladin Eckhardt [Ulrich Centurion Thompson], the sneaky rogue Hagamar [Stephen Shatch Graham] and the cleric Debelzaq [Stephen The Bank Job Campbell Moore].

You can't really see it but they're looking at a map that would not be out of place inside a 1970's D&D module

Cage turns on his "pain" switch as opposed to his "manic" one and delivers his lines [and out of place one-liners] in his usual American twang not making any conscious effort to sound Germanic [which in retrospect might be a good thing] and acts pretty much like he's being directed by the man who directed him in Gone in 60 Seconds which was not Cage or Sena's fines hour but this movie proves to be slightly more entertaining because you're just waiting for the next ridiculous, line, set piece, bad CGI or unnecessary plot point to make you laugh at this incredibly hilarious movie. Some of these highlights include: The attack of the Werewolf-wolves, a Monty Python-esque "Bridge of Doom" sequence and a wholly unconvincing CGI demon in the climactic battle.

The much vaunted "even more vicious" Warewolf-wolves

The movie suffered a tumultuous production history. Written by Bragi F. Schut in 2000 it was bid on by numerous studios until MGM won. Due to some financial issues in 2003 it went to Columbia Pictures where producers worked with Sena to perform location shooting throughout Europe but they couldn't find a suitable 14th Century castle. The project eventually went to Relativity Media, and with Sena officially attached. Creative discussions led to avoiding excessive violence and gore so it could be marketed to a broader audience. Cage eventually became available in 2008 and was cast in the starring role. With a budget of $40m, and much of the budget was covered by Relativity with pre-sales to distributors outside the United States. Most of the principal photography took place in practical locations in Austria, Hungary, and Croatia with several days committed to filming on greenscreen. Principal photography was completed by April 2009, but the cast and crew re-gathered a few months later to film additional battle sequences on greenscreen only - and boy does it show.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this movie is shit from my review, and to be honest you'd be right, but it's a movie I did enjoy watching if not for all the wrong reasons. Watch it on TV with a beer.

Colonel Creedon rating: ***

Saturday, January 29, 2011

TRON: Legacy

I distinctly recall watching the original TRON on a friends video player in late 1984. The idea that he could put in this big black cassette into a large box near the TV and watch this movie any time it was free for him to do so, was as awesome as the world that the movie itself transported us to. We had no idea who this Jeff Bridges was but we all knew Bruce Boxleitner from Bring Em Back Alive, so he was cool. It was a Disney movie, which even back then was against my ethos [no one dies horribly in Disney movies] but it’s high-concept and the extraordinary visuals of The Grid were enough to hold my attention. Graphically the movie has aged and if you’ve not seen it in many years you may even snigger at it’s realisation of computing since a common PC user nowadays has a much greater understanding and most people originally viewing TRON.

Fast forward to 2010 over 25 years later and Disney release a sequel every bit as visually stunning in 2010 as TRON was in 1982. The world of the grid was enhanced and upgraded using some of the most talented animators in the business and merged innovations with 3D technology with the most spectacular use of true IMAX ever seen to date. Sadly it was missing a soul.

Not to draw comparisons with Avatar as I know may reviewers have, Tron: Legacy being the big Christmas 3D movie - but I must address the fact that while it's 3D tech wasn't as "effective" as Cameron's work, Tron: Legacy was more successful in drawing you into The Grid then Cameron did with Pandora [although I know there's a "tribe" of blue-painted retards somewhere in the world that would disagree]. Cameron produced more extraordinary visuals to cover up the fact he has no plot but Disney's tech wasn't good enough to do the same for a lacklustre story and thus audiences may have been found wanting by comparison.

Legacy's plot is deeply flawed not because it's badly executed but perhaps it's just a tweaked version of the original with an excessive use of Star Wars. In the original Kevin Flynn is digitized into The Grid and must search for evidence of his company CEO's wrongdoing with the aid of Tron and escape. Here Sam Flynn is digitised and must search for his father whom he hopes to return to reality with the aid of Quarra. Star Wars is easily compared once you see Sam as Luke, Flynn as Obi Wan, Clu as the Emperor and Rinzler as Vader. [Rinzler is actually named after author and Lucasfilm Executive Editor, J.W. Rinzler.] Watch out for the "Here they come" line voiced by Quarra [Leia] as Sam [Luke] gets into the aircraft turret to shoot down bad-guy aircraft pursuing them.

The film thankfully doesn't let us down character department. Garrett Hedlund [Sam] has grown much since Patrolclus in Troy ['04] and by all indications he'll be in further Tron sequels. House's Olivia Wilde gets a haircut, zipped up in leather and generally keeps our attention on the screen for the "talkie" moments when we're not being visually and aurally assaulted. Michael Sheen puts in a bizarre cameo performance that wouldn't be out of place in The Matrix [but considering the Washowski's are going ahead with Matrix 4 and 5, perhaps this is his audition]. Stealing the show however, as always, is of course Jeff Bridges as the illogically aged Kevin Flynn who sounds a bit more like The Dude then '80's Kevin Flynn but to be honest, Bridges is so awesome even his dialogue can't distract us from just how fuckin' cool he is.

I won't review this movie without passing on a some-ways reluctant comment on the movie's score. It was created entirely by french musicians Daft Punk who have made their careers from producing tuneless droning noise for the House-music masses. Here however they've somehow used this noise and fused it to wonderful theatrical orchestrations[that often sound like The Dark Knight] to create something truly unique and extraordinary, a new update to magnificent sound space of The Grid.

Overall I may have had higher hopes for Tron: Legacy than what I got, but that's not so say that I was seriously disappointed. It works on a level that reintroduces us to, to quote Flynn's opening monologue "a world I thought I'd never see" again and I certainly look forward to seeing more once the opportunity arises.

Colonel Creedon Verdict: ****

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Greens show true colour: Yellow!

The backstabbing bastards, The Green Party today prematurely withdrew as coalition partner from the somewhat controversial current government of Ireland. An Taoiseach Brian Cowan's already wafer thin majority was effectively destroyed by this "dick move" and probably isn't a surprise to anyone who has followed the nefarious antics of the Greens up to now.

While admittedly, things weren't all rosy in Leinster House; operations were proceeding in a somewhat orderly fashion: March 11th was the date set for a general election and only the passing of the new finance bill needed as part of Ireland's international bail-out package, remained on the agenda.

The Greens said they would support the passage of legislation for the 2011 austerity budget from the opposition side and wanted it rushed through the Dail to ensure an election was held sooner than March. Green Party leader John "Gormless" Gormley is hoping his decision will prompt the opposition parties to withdraw plans to table motions of no-confidence in the government and encourage them instead to get the finance legislation sped through parliament.

The fascist Blueshirts, The Fine Gael party and the socialist wankers, The Labor Party actually want the bill [partly because they didn't create it, but know it's necessary and can always just label it as a Fianna Fail action], which legalises changes to taxation made in the budget, passed by Friday and the calling of an immediate general election.

But Cowen, who stood down yesterday as leader of Fianna Fail amid some criticism of his political judgment, said such a time frame was too tight for the fiscal bill. "It's not possible to get it done in a week," he told RTE.

A storm is coming, will anyone survive?

Friday, January 14, 2011

The "Biggest Brother", Major Dick Winters R.I.P.

My friends, we recently lost a true hero and I apologise I was not here until now to address it. Major Richard "Dick" Winters, commander of Easy Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day has passed away at age 92 only days before what would have been his 93rd birthday.

Anyone who watched HBO's legendary successful mini-series Band of Brothers is familiar with the story of Maj. Winters, who as a lieutenant and 2IC of Easy Company jumped into Normandy to find himself promoted due to the loss of his commander's plane. Winters commanded his troops behind the German lines at Utah Beach near Sainte-Mère-Église. He positioned any paratroopers that remained to eliminate several monstrous Jerry artillery guns that could have thwarted the invasion of Utah Beach. Despite being recommended for the Medal of Honor, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross due to an insane quota system that prohibited anyone in his unit from receiving the medal again. His supporters at have been calling for him to be retroactively awarded the Medal Of Honor, but the always humble man himself never endorsed it.

Captain Winters commanded the company through Operation: Market Garden and The Battle of the Bulge before finally capturing The Eagles Nest and some of Hitler's most prized possessions. He left the Army in '46 as a Major but served in the Korean War later.

Was it not for Stephen Ambrose’s 1992 book Band of Brothers and Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks production of a series with the same name, Maj. Winters story, and that of Easy Company may largely have been forgotten. Were it not for his own historical accounts which helped make these projects what they were, they may never have had the impact thy did. The Major died Jan. 2 in Campbelltown, Pa., from Parkinson's. An intensely private man, Winters had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral.

'When he said "Let's go," he was right in the front,' said fellow soldier William Guarnere, 88.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

USS Enterprise skipper goes boldly indeed

The USS Enterprise (CVN-65) is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. At 342m, she is the longest naval vessel afloat in the world. She displaces over 93,000 long tons and is due to be decommissioned in 2013 after serving for 51 consecutive years, the most of any U.S. aircraft carrier. The "Big E" is one of 11 Aircraft Carriers currently in US naval service and to command her is one of the most coveted assignments in the entire Navy.

The fortunate officer to hold the assignment of master and commander most recently was Captain Owen Honors who relieved Captain Ronald Horton on May 6th last year. He was due to take the massive vessel and her more than 5000 crew to the Middle East to support Operation: Enduring Freedom in the coming weeks. However, now he will not because - yes you guessed it - he fucked up!

Apparently Capt. Honors, while previously serving as the XO of the Enterprise, produced some non-standard videos in '06/'07 to entertain the crew. OK enough PC bullshit - the man made risqué videos where he constantly swore, insulted homosexuals, appeared with two "chicks" in the shower, observed two male sailors rubbing lotion on each other in another shower and a considerable amount of simulated masturbation. Basically he did everything save dressing up in drag and fondle fake breasts like Gary Busey did in Under Siege. Honors did however wear a dressing gown where it was suggested he wasn't wearing underwear - so maybe I'll leave it up to you to decide which is worse.

Naturally, the videos were never supposed to see the light of day outside the environment of the USS Enterprise. Lucas, they weren't even supposed to be seen by the ship's CO and Honors even takes the time to provide a "disclaimer" with the intent of absolving his superiors of any repercussions from the videos. However, these things always come to light don't they? Someone who was no doubt offended by the content provided the Virginian-Pilot newspaper with all it needed to break the story in its Sunday editions and to post an edited version of one video on its website.

"It's no worse then anything you'd see on Saturday Night Live or the Family Guy," said Houston native Misty Davis, who worked on the Enterprise's weapons systems during her 2006-2010 tour and is one of a growing band of staunch supporters of Capt. Honors to emerge in the past few days. The Navy top brass however were suitably unimpressed with the information released and were quick to launch an investigation.

Tuesday afternoon, Admiral John Harvey, Commander, Fleet Forces Command, relieved Honors in disgrace for demonstrating exceptionally poor judgment. Harvey stated that despite Honors’ incident free performance as CO, the admiral thinks his lack of professionalism calls into question his character and undermines his credibility to continue to effectively command. Captain Dee Mewborne, currently Chief of Staff for US Cyber Command and former USS Dwight D. Eisenhower CO, will replace Honors for the Enterprise's final overseas deployment.

One particular point that emerged is most interesting - that Capt. Honors was apparently told to stop his personal brand of entertainment in 2007 some years before he was elevated to CO himself. This leads to the question that if Captain Horton knew about the videos, did Horton's superior, the Carrier Strike Group Commander know too? And if so, why did Horton [now a Rear-Admiral] or Rear Admiral [now Vice Admiral] Daniel Holloway, Enterprise Strike Group commander in ’07, not take the necessary disciplinary action against Honors at the time? Were they saving their own skin or protecting their predecessors Captain [now Rear-Admiral] Larry Rice who was Enterprise CO before Horton took command in '07 and Rear Admiral (lower half) [now Rear Admiral] Ray Spicer, Commander, Enterprise Strike Group during it's 2006 deployment for not knowing about the videos or not acting upon them? Suspicious indeed, one would think that after Tailhook they'd have learned something.

Conspiracy theories aside, it is not uncommon for humorous “skit” videos to be produced by troops for the troops on board a ship/sub or even a base. It’s morale boosting and team building, as well as harmless fun provided of course that you use some measure of common sense and don't go out of the way to target a certain group of people [unless it's the french]. Now I may not agree myself with openly gay servicemen in the military, but neither would I condone the way they’ve been treated in Captain Honors' videos. By virtue of his grade he should clearly have known better; once you get the "eagles" on your shoulder you’re in a special class of officer and gentleman – not one that simulates being naked with only a shower cap on and calling people under your command cowards for complaining about the gay-bashing anonymously. You are a leader, a commander, you inspire courage, morale and dignity not parade around like an idiot in costumes for the entertainment of the..., I'm actually going to stop there.

See two of Captain Honors' full videos here and here.

Source: Fox News/ABC/Sky

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Colonel's Bullets - January 4th 2011

NASA and Science and Entertainment Exchange have drafted a list of the least plausible science fiction movies ever made. Roland Emmerich's nonsensical movie 2012 which depicted the end of [most of] the world, featured ahead of two more apocalyptic movies - The Core and Armageddon.
Donald Yeomans, head of the Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission, says "It's absurd. The film-makers took advantage of public worries about the so-called end of the world as apparently predicted by the Mayans. The agency is getting so many questions from people terrified that the world is going to end in 2012 that we have had to put up a special website to challenge the myths. We have never had to do this before." NASA and the SEE also compiled a list of the top 10 most realistic sci-fi films, with Gattaca, Jurassic Park even Contact among the most "realistic" sci-fi films.


I regret to announce the death of Pete Postlethwaite OBE, one of England's more prolific contemporary actors. Among his numerous roles were Split Second, Alien 3, The Last Of The Mohicans, The Usual Suspects, Dragonheart, Æon Flux and Soloman Kane. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Giuseppe Conlon in In The Name Of The Father. In the past year, while battling cancer he appeared in Clash of the Titans, Inception and The Town.
Steven Spielberg called Postlethwaite "the best actor in the world" after working with him on The Lost World: Jurassic Park, to which Postlethwaite quipped: "I'm sure what Spielberg actually said was, 'The thing about Pete is that he thinks he's the best actor in the world.'" May he rest in peace.


According to the Executive Vice-President of IMAX David Keighley; Chris Nolan has had 4 or 5 meetings already with IMAX about The Dark Knight Rises. Bit depth improvements are being worked on so it will look more film like (when they project digitally). For The Dark Knight Rises they are trying to get more than 1,000 shades of color as film has over 4,000 shades of color and there will be a greater portion of The Dark Knight Rises in IMAX than there was in The Dark Knight.


Avatar was unsurprisingly the most pirated movie of 2010 with over 16.5m downloads according to Torrentfreak. A remarkable increase of 33% over Star Trek, the most pirated movie of the previous year. 20th Century Fox isn't crying all that much as Avatar grossed almost $2.8Bn at the worldwide box office. Read the full report here.

Sources: WENN / Collider / Hollywood Reporter

Sunday, January 02, 2011

2010! - The Year In Review

We say goodbye to 2010. A year that gave us Jedward, vuvuzelas, Wikileaks and the iPad.

A year in which George Lee ran from the Dáil with his tail between his legs and Neil Prendeville masturbated on a plane; a year of considerable debt crisis in Europe and political crisis in Thailand.

The BP oil spill, flooding in Pakistan, earthquakes in China and Haiti and the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.

We saw an end to combat missions Iraq, a sequel to Iron Man, Spain taking the World Cup and Chilean miners being rescued.

Stan McCrystal takes early retirement and Conan is ousted from NBC but opens triumphantly on TBS. Duke Nukem is declared "alive"!

And Whopper's Bunker celebrates it's 5th Anniversary.

Finally, as always, we remember those lost in 2010:
Barbara Billingsley, 94, American actress [Airplane! -"I speak Jive!"]
Tom Bosley, 83, American actor [Happy Days, Father Dowling Mysteries]
Geoffrey Burgon, 69, British composer [Robin Hood, Monty Python’s Life Of Brian]
Stephen J. Cannell, 69, American TV producer and writer [The A-Team]
Christopher Cazenove, 64, British actor [Dynasty]
Chao-Li Chi, 83, Chinese-born American actor [Falcon Crest]
Gary Coleman, 42, American actor [Diff'rent Strokes]
Robert Culp, 79, American actor [The Greatest American Hero]
Tony Curtis, 85, American actor [Some Like It Hot, Spartacus]
Dino De Laurentiis, 91, Italian film producer [Dune, Conan The Barbarian]
Michael Dwyer, 58, Irish journalist and film critic
Blake Edwards, 88, American film director, producer and screenwriter [The Pink Panther series, The Party]
John Forsythe, 92, American actor [Charlie's Angels, Dynasty]
Frank Frazetta, 82, American fantasy and science fiction artist
Ron Gans, 79, American voice actor [Transformers]
Greg Giraldo, 44, American comedian [Comedy Central Roast]
Peter Graves, 83, American actor [Mission: Impossible, Airplane!]
Bob Guccione, 79, American publisher, founder of Penthouse
Corey Haim, 38, Canadian actor [The Lost Boys]
Alex "Hurricane" Higgins, 61, Northern Irish snooker player
Phyllis Hodges Boyce, 73, American actress [Star Trek]
Dennis Hopper, 74, American actor and film director [Easy Rider, Speed]
Alan Hume, 85, British cinematographer [Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi]
Irvin Kershner, 87, American film director [Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back]
Andrew Koenig, 41, American actor, [Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Batman: Dead End, G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero]
Eugene Lambert, 82, Irish puppeteer and ventriloquist [Wanderley Wagon, Bosco]
Mick Lally, 64, Irish actor [Glenroe]
Simon MacCorkindale, 58, British actor [Falcon Crest, Manimal, Casualty]
Tom Mankiewicz, 68, American screenwriter [James Bond, Superman]
Bernard Matthews CVO, CBE, 80, British businessman [Bernard Matthews Farms]
Kevin McCarthy, 96, American actor [Invasion of the Body Snatchers]
Rue McClanahan, 76, American actress [The Golden Girls, Starship Troopers]
Grant McCune, 67, American Academy Award-winning visual effects artist [Star Wars]
Leslie Nielsen, 84, Canadian-born American actor [Airplane!, The Naked Gun]
Zelda Rubinstein, 76, American actress [Poltergeist]
J. D. Salinger, 91, American author [The Catcher In The Rye]
Jean Simmons, 80, British-born American actress [Great Expectations, Star Trek: The Next Generation]
Gareth Wigan, 78, British film studio executive [Star Wars, Chariots of Fire]
Edward Uhl, 92, American, co-inventor of the bazooka
Sir Norman Wisdom, 95, British comedian and actor
PC Zone, 17, British PC gaming magazine
We thank them for the entertainment they provided.

We also acknowledge the service of these military servicemen, astronauts and politicians who served with distinction:
General Lew Allen, 84, former NSA Director , former USAF Chief of Staff
First Sergeant Nick Bacon, 64, U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient
First Lieutenant Vernon Baker, 90, U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient
Corporal Melvin E. Biddle, 87, U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient
David C. Dolby, 64, U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient
Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, 62, former Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces
Major General John Fugh, 75, first Chinese American O-7 in the U.S. Army, former Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army
General Alexander Haig, 85, former U.S. Secretary of State, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Richard Holbrooke, 69, American diplomat, United States Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, former Ambassador to Germany, former Ambassador to the United Nations
Major General Jeanne M. Holm, 88, first female O-7 of the USAF and the first female O-8 in any U.S. service branch
Lieutenant Morris R. Jeppson, 87, USAAC officer, assistant weaponeer on the Enola Gay
Sergeant Allen Dale June, USMC, 91, American original Navajo code talker
Vice Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly KBE, CB, 95, former Director-General of Intelligence, British Ministry of Defence
William B. Lenoir, 71, American NASA astronaut [STS-5]
First Sergeant David H. McNerney, 79, U.S. Army Medal of Honor recipient
John Murtha, 77, American politician, U.S. Representative from Pennsylvania, former USMC Colonel
General Frederick C. Weyand, U.S. Army, 93, last commander of US military operations in the Vietnam War
Polish Leaders and former leaders, Ryszard Kaczorowski, Lech Kaczyński and 94 others killed in The Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash.
May they all rest in peace.

As always there is balance to the force and there have been deaths that are most welcome, make the world a better place and should remain unmourned:
Vivian Blake, 53, Jamaican drug lord, Co-creator of crack
Ignacio Coronel Villarreal, 56, Mexican drug lord [Sinaloa Cartel]
Abu Daoud, 73, Palestinian military commander, planned 1972 Olympics massacre in Munich,
Tomás Mac Giolla, 86, Irish politician, former IRA terrorist, former President of Sinn Fein, former president of the Workers Party, former Lord Mayor of Dublin
Leroy Nash, 94, American murderer, oldest death row inmate
Gerry Ryan, 53, disgraced Irish DJ and drug abuser
Michael Seifert, 86, Soviet-born Nazi war criminal
Paul Schäfer, 88, German religious sect founder and former Nazi,
Erich Steidtmann, 95, German Nazi SS officer and alleged war criminal
James von Brunn, 89, American white supremacist
May they rot in hell.

And now folks