Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Didn't Disney already try to make Star Wars?

Yes they did, quite recently in fact! And look how that turned out!



Disney to aquire Lucasfilm


Disney chief Robert Iger, left, and Star Wars creator George Lucas handle some paperwork.
Photo courtesy The Walt Disney Company
They can't make Episode VII.

This isn't real.

This isn't happening!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marine stars rise as Army stars fall

President Obama has nominated Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. Forces and NATO International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan to succeed Navy Adm. Jim Stavridis as the next Supreme Allied Commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command in the spring. “For more than a year, General Allen has served with distinction … seeing us through a critical period in our military efforts and in Afghanistan’s transition,” the president said in a statement. “I have personally relied on his counsel and am grateful for his devotion to our national security and to the safety of the men and women with whom he serves. Under General Allen’s command, we have made important progress towards our core goal of defeating al Qaida and ensuring they can never return to a sovereign Afghanistan. Working with our Afghan partners and international civilians, the forces under General Allen’s command have moved forward with a transition to Afghan Security Forces, who will take the lead for security across the country next year.”

General Allen [L], SecDef Panetta [C] and General Dunford [R]
The president also nominated a successor for Allen, the current Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Dunford “…is combat-tested. He believes in ISAF, and if confirmed, will be an extraordinary leader of it. … and will lead our forces through key milestones in our effort that will allow us to bring the war to a close responsibly as Afghanistan takes full responsibility for its security.” “Fighting Joe” Dunford led Regimental Combat Team 5 during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, I MEF at Pendleton and MARCENT before being elevated to the USMC’s #2 officer in 2010. While he has not served a combat tour in Afghanistan, he tracked combat operations while commanding MARCENT and is described by colleagues as intelligent, decisive and someone who can get the job done.

While Allen has been approved by NATO already, both his and Dunford’s nominations must be confirmed by the Senate to take effect. Lieutenant Generals John Paxton, George Flynn and Robert Schmidle are rumoured to be in the running to succeed General Dunford.

In contrast there is less fortunate news reported for some U.S. Army generals this month; General William “Kip” Ward former head of U.S. Africa Command is accused of spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars on lavish travel and other expenses according to an Inspector General’s report. The report found that Ward used military vehicles to shuttle his wife on shopping trips and to a spa and billed the government for a refuelling stop overnight in Bermuda, where the couple stayed in a $750 suite. The report detailed lengthy stays at lavish hotels for the 4-Star, his wife and his staff members, and the use of five-vehicle motorcades when he travelled to Washington. It also said Ward and his wife accepted dinner and Broadway show tickets from a government contractor during a trip during which he went backstage to meet actor Denzel Washington. The couple and several staff members also spent two nights at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Officials have argued that the allegations made against Ward in report were very serious and that senior officers need to be held accountable. Panetta's options regarding Ward are limited however, he can only demote Ward and force him to retire as a three-star lieutenant general costing Ward nearly $30,000 a year in retirement pay.

General Ward [L] and Brigadider General Sinclair [R]
Elsewhere, Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair, former 82nd Airborne Division's deputy commanding general for support in southern Afghanistan, stands accused of forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, attempted violation of an order, wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships, misusing a government travel charge card, violating general orders by possessing alcohol and pornography while deployed, mistreating subordinates, filing fraudulent claims, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, and engaging in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline. Under military law, he may be able to ask the secretary of the Army for permission to retire rather than face possible court-martial. “Often, leadership elects to punish an officer outside of a court-martial,” said Lt.Col. Victor Hansen, a retired JAG lawyer said, “but the announcement of the charges against Sinclair shows investigators are taking this case seriously.”

Sources: Stars & Stripes / /

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Looper is loopy

In the 19th century a Danish bloke called Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story about a vain Emperor who hires two weavers that promise him the finest suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is hopelessly stupid. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can for fear of appearing unfit for his position. When the swindlers 'finish' the suit, they mime dressing him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense, until a child in the crowd, too young to understand, cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

Coming out of the movie I felt a bit like the child pointing at the Emperor, not because I'm too young to understand but because I understand all too clearly that this was nonsense. Heading into the long hyped Looper there's a gigantic poster in the cinema with 5-Star 'outstanding' ratings from UK film magazines Total Film and Empire with the former saying that it's "The best sci-fi movie since Moon. The best time-travel yarn since 12 Monkeys. And one of the best films of 2012." Another quote was "This decade's The Matrix." No, Looper is the most ridiculously over-hyped over-rated movie since Avatar [and lacks the astounding spectacle of revolutionary 3D presentation that makes that movie worth it]. It's as big a let down as Prometheus which promised us so much but delivered so little. Total Film had it slightly wrong with that last one - it isn't this decade's The Matrix [that was Inception], Looper is more like this decade's The Matrix: Revolutions.

In Looper, Joeseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe, a "Looper" a hitman in Kansas in 2044. He's not a great hitman, all he really has to do is shoot blindfolded individuals who are sent back by the mob from 30 years into the future because they can't dispose of bodies then. It's inevitable that one day you will eventually "close your loop" by executing yourself. One day Joe from the future [Bruce Willis] is sent back, young Joe recognises him and hesitates to shoot so old Joe escapes. Young Joe must give chase because the only way for him to be free to live his life is to kill old Joe. Trust me - this is the part of the movie that actually makes sense and is the part I enjoyed. Both Gordon-Levitt and Willis give wonderful performances, especially Gordon-Levitt's movie-long imitation of Willis' mannerisms which must have been difficult to maintain. In fairness however, we could have done without his distracting make up - if we can believe River Phoenix is young Indy in The Last Crusade then imitation is good enough for an audience.

The rest of the cast are extraordinarily well judged. Jeff The Newsroom Daniels, Piper Covert Affairs Perabo and Tracey Death Proof Thomas also star. Sara [Emily The Adjustment Bureau Blunt] is a farmer taking care of her special telekinetic little boy Cid (although it would be better if he was called Damien). It's actually this extraordinary youngfella Pierce Gagnon who surely can't be 10 years old who steals the show and provides some levity in contrast to his purpose in the movie. Movie patrons blessed with memory however will recognise Garret Dillahunt channelling his Chromartie role from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as a mob enforcer.

As an action movie is comes across quite well, the chase scenes and stunt work were excellent and the special effects were pretty good for a movie that was made with a paltry [in Hollywood terms] $30m. The design elements of this movie made it feel like some sort of social commentary on the world today. Writer/director Rian Johnson obviously ascribes to the social/economic collapse of the west idea but perhaps it's a design choice that both fits his vision as well as the limitations of his budget. It explains why weapon designs are pretty much 2012's [unlike the daftness of using modern weapons in Total Recall] and why people are driving about in modern vehicles with solar panels. The most bizarre and intriguing notion is reference to The Vagrant Wars which suggest that at some point between now an 2044, hordes of armed vagrants will assist, or perhaps are a result of the economic collapse. Nevertheless, I'm certain it won't keep people awake at night in the same way Star Wars fans speculated on The Clone Wars between 1977 and 2002.

Okay, so what's really wrong with this whole movie and why is it not so great as the misguided critics are shouting from the rooftops? Well it's really the use of science and science-fiction in this movie is what lets it down big time. Basically the concept is sound, tried and tested for years but the execution here is so ludicrous and it blatantly contradicts itself so much and asks so many unanswerable questions that it makes Brannon Braga's most insane Star Trek plots seem perfectly plausible by comparison. I'm not saying that every other example of time-tavel paradox science-fiction is flawless, some if it is far from it, but seriously there was stuff which is created here for the purposes of the story [which is fine] that were blatantly contradicted during the movie [excessively lazy writing].

Sadly I don't think I can cohesively convey all the issues I had with these elements of Looper which 'control' the whole story without spoiling the whole thing which I will not do so I will discuss it in the comments if you so wish - so don't read the comments until you've seen it. Let's lets just say for now that during the course of this grand spectacle of cinema - nothing actually happens. The biggest let down is the ending - I'd honestly have an easier job of being an apologist for the ending of the 2000 Dungeons & Dragons movie or even the ending of the Mass Effect 3 video game this year than I would for this woeful, pointless climax.

Final Verdict: Not without excitement and great performances but devoid of a cohesive plot and contradicts every idea it sets up. The sad truth is that this movie does so much wrong it's distracting from what's right. I regret to tell you that you're better off with the Terminator movies or fuck it even Timecop is better time-travel sci-fi than this.

Colonel Creedon rating:  **1/2

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

No one is killed softly in Killing Them Softly

There is a multitude of alternative timelines that were created where I did not choose to see this movie and I regret not being in one now. I had nothing else scheduled, a special operation I was on call for had been shelved by some nervous politician ahead of election day in November and I had nothing else planned so I went with it. I just looked up the running time for this and there's no way in hell until I see the DVD/BD time counter for this tediously long-drawn out movie, that I will believe it was only 97 mins. This will remain unresolved in my head because trust me, I'll never chose to watch this ever again. 

Brad Pitt plays Jackie a mob hit man sent in to investigate the robbery of an underground card-came run by Markie [Ray Goodfellas Liotta]. The robbery was masterminded by Johnny [Vincent The Sopranos Curatola] and carried out by Frankie and Russell [Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn]. Johnny's plan was to frame Markie for robbing his own game because Markie had actually robbed his own game some years back. Jackie's solution is to kill everyone involved but can't kill Johnny because he knows him (and that gets messy) so he gets Micky [James Gandolfini] to fly in to take care of that part. Let's just say things don't go as planned.

Andrew Dominik is a writer/director who has made a couple of movies that I don't know anything about since 2000. It's obvious he idolises both Scorsese and Tarantino but based on this shit he has none of their talent, wit or judgement. He shoved what must have been a 500 page rambling shooting script into the face of such screen gems as Pitt, Gandofini, Liotta and Richard Stepbrothers Jenkins and must have directed them to "say this as if you're just making it up on the spot". Bloody hell, the talking heads, the monologues and anecdotes were fucking endless.

The woefully few action sequences I woke up for were brutal and violent [especially a drive by shooting] earning this movie a star. The other star going to Liotta and Pitt's performances alone as the others were either under utilised [Sam Shepard is worth more than 40 seconds dumb ass] or over exposed [yes that's Gandofini playing yet another jaded gangster again].

The story was good if a little comedy-caper-ish but it worked. Sadly what I found was really the worst part of this was the endless social commentary in the background. Every TV or radio in the movie played select speeches/debates being delivered by presidential candidates Obama and McCain. It's obvious that Dominik had something to say about... politics? banking? corporations? something... but veiling it behind a simplistic mobster story was absolutely the wrong way to do it because it went completely over my head. If you want to be clever Andrew, you have to be clever, and you're not, so try again in another six or seven years.

Final Verdict: Good shootings, but far too much yapping. Good actors but mediocre performances. Good plot but incomprehensible message.

Colonel Creedon Rating: **

Monday, October 08, 2012

Naked Assailant [18] Blown Away on College Campus - Part 20 in my "Shoot First, Questions Never" series!

A University of Alabama Campus police officer shot and killed a naked student early on Saturday morning. The officer had left the police station to investigate a loud banging noise on his window at 01:23 CT when he was confronted by a muscular, nude man who was "acting erratically".

Gilbert Thomas Collar [18], of Wetumpka, Alabama, repeatedly rushed and verbally challenged the officer in a fighting stance. The officer drew his weapon and ordered Collar to halt as he retreated from him in repeated attempts to diffuse the situation. However, Collar continued to press toward the officer in a threatening manner - the college freshman weighed 135lbs and was 5' 7" with a wrestler's build. He knelt for a moment, rose again, and chased the officer who continued to retreat away from the building. After continuously rushing at the officer in a threatening manner and ignoring the repeated commands to stop, the officer discharged his weapon striking "the chest of the assailant," according to a statement from the school. "The individual fell to the ground, but he got up once more and continued to challenge the officer further before collapsing and expiring."

In the Gulf Coast city of Mobile, the student's mother Bonnie said she could not understand how a six-year varsity wrestler and good-natured teenager could have died under such strange and sad circumstances. "He was wearing no clothes and he was obviously not in his right mind," she said. "No one said that he had attacked anybody, and obviously he was not armed. He was completely naked." One of his friends Chris Estes wrote: "Gil was a very 'chill' guy, mellow and easy going... I've never seen aggression in him, especially not towards a cop."

The District Attorney's Office will conduct an external investigation, and the Mobile County Sheriff's Department will assist. The police officer involved in the shooting has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of internal and external reviews.

Verdict: Not as sure about this as I was last time. Collar was not wielding a weapon [nor could he have had one concealed]. When someone is rushing you like that the easiest solution is to use their own momentum against them. Was the cop alone in the station? Could he not retreated inside the building until backup arrived? Need more details to pass judgement right now.

Source: CNN / Fox

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Crikey The Sweeney is the dogs bollocks!

Unlike the success that a TV cop show like Miami Vice enjoyed for years here and in the UK, I'm pretty sure that few people in the U.S. have ever heard of, let alone seen The Sweeney. You're forgiven, like Vice, it's a great for it's time but awful for today. It was a hard-hitting British cop show from the mid 1970's that starred John Inspector Morse Thaw as Jack Regan and Dennis Minder Waterman as George Carter; members of the elite "flying squad" [a police unit that operates with no district boundaries] otherwise known as The Sweeney [rhyming slang calls the flying squad 'Sweeney Todd']. The series featured a plethora of famous guest stars in it's 3 year run including John Hellboy Hurt, Joss Lethal Weapon 2 Ackland, Brian Flash Gordon Blessed, John Lord of the Rings Rhys-Davies, Julian The Empire Strikes Back Glover and even Maureen The Pianist Lipman.

If you've seen The Sweeney series, you'll be pleased to learn that this re imagining is pretty much like the re-imagining of Miami Vice [a movie that has my favourite mouth shot] insofar as only the names of the characters bear any resemblance to the original. Ray The Departed Winstone [who also had a minor villain role in the original series] took up the mantle of DI Regan while Ben Drew [rapper Plan B] took the role of DC Carter. Damien Homeland Lewis had the role of their ever suffering boss Detective Chief Inspector Frank Haskins.

The movie opens with the flying squad coming down hard [with baseball bats] on a warehouse  robbery in progress. Following their success, albeit with a tremendous amount of collateral damage, the team celebrate. Regan buys off a snout (informant) [the incomparable Alan Snatch Ford] with some of the gold that "went missing" from the warehouse. Internal Investigations officer DCI Ivan Lewis [Steven Underworld: Rise of the Lycans Mackintosh] however mounts an inquiry into the actions of Regan and the squad although it's revealed he has more of a personal vendetta because he knows Regan has been shagging [having sexual relations with] his wife DC Nancy Lewis [Hayley Captain America: The First Avenger Atwell]. Regan doesn't have time to worry about that because he gets a tip-off about a planned robbery on a bank, while a jewellery store robbery leaves £200k of jewellery in the hands of a dangerous criminal, and one otherwise innocent civilian dead.

British crime drama plots are excessively detailed, researched and sometimes convoluted to the point of boredom or distraction and I think The Sweeney's certainly falls into this trap if you happen to concentrate too hard on it. So it may be best not to. Thankfully the action is fast and furious, interrogations are brutal and there's a lot of "excessive force" used, enough to be honest, to distract you from said plot. There's probably a few things you can't suspend disbelief for however and one was the grotesquely ridiculous 'relationship' between a picturesque beauty like Atwell [29] and Ray Winstone [55] who has the physique of Oliver Reed before his death. People were either cringing or snickering in disbelief at their love scene.

I've heard of Nick Love's vigilante movie Outlaw back in 2007 around the time of it's release but The Sweeney is the first of his movies that I've seen. So based on this I think he did a bloody fine job of it all. The man created a quintessentially British, thoroughly enjoyable action crime drama with a budget of £3m which in technical terms is low budget. Both the car chases and foot pursuits are up there with Ronin and Heat and keep you glued fast to the action. Kudos to the director, editor and the DP for such a lavishly shot movie that you don't often see coming from the UK. Dynamic and noteworthy Scottish composer Lorne Ironclad Balfe, one of Hans Zimmer's Remote Control music monkeys provided what I must label as one of the finest scores of the year.

Final Verdict: Despite an overarching plot and a few writing miss-steps, The Sweeney features excellent lead performances in a thoroughly entertaining movie that bears little or no resemblance to it's progenitor. Now, shut it you slags, an' go watch it!

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****1/2