Sunday, May 27, 2012

If you ever hear the phrase more than the sum of it’s parts, from now on add “…just like The Avengers!”

Ever since Nick Fury emerged from the shadows of Tony Stark’s mansion after the end credits of the original Iron Man in 2008, we were presented with the reality that The Avengers were coming to town and would appear on screen for the first time. It took six more years, an origin movie for both Thor and Captain America, plus another Iron Man and Hulk movie to set the tone and establish a linear momentum of hype. And boy did it pay off!

When you look at the individual movies, you can see that they were quite extraordinary undertakings. Marvel’s big screen treatment of their beloved comic-book heroes are practically flawless examples of how to treat the superhero genre properly, not in the deplorable fashion that DC Comics has with their movie projects since Batman Forever [Nolan’s sublime Batman efforts excluded of course]. Each Marvel/Paramount movie introduced and/or expanded The Avengers splendidly and wove in a backbone with Nick Fury, Agent Coulson and/or S.H.I.E.L.D. to keep the movies - while separate extraordinary adventures in their own right – part of a glorious cohesive universe much like their source material.

 Chris Evans played his Steve Rogers brilliantly as a man from the past, understanding little about the time he now resides but comes into his own when the going gets tough because the language of war has changed little. Chris Hemsworth turns in a much more serious performance than he did under Brannagh, evoking the responsibility he feels for his younger brother Loki and the Tesseract, unleashing such devastation on an unprepared world. While sadly The Incredible Hulk’s Edward Norton could not reprise his role as Bruce Banner, no one had had anything bad to say about Mark Ruffalo, once presumed to be the weakest link in The Avengers’ chain but who delivered a provocative and sublime performance as a man controlling constant anger, unleashing it only… to SMASH! However, there must be one star that shines above all else and that firmly belonged to Robert Downey Jr. who is now so comfortable in Tony Stark’s shoes it’s difficult to know where Downey ends and Stark begins.

The clandestine extra-governmental security agency S.H.I.E.L.D. were a major part of the movie and provided an array of great supporting characters to the big four. Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury opened the movie leading the now familiar Agent Coulson [Clark Gregg], Clint “Hawkeye” Barton [the intense Jeremy Renner] from Thor and the stunning Scarlet Johansson as Natalia “Black Widow” Romanoff. Stellan Skarsgard returns as Professor Selvig from Thor and Gwyneth Paltrow reprises her role as Pepper Potts as does Paul Bettany as the voice of Jarvis. Joining them for the first time is Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s XO. The exquisitely sinister Tom Hiddleston returns from Thor as Loki but it's soon made clear he's only part of the real threat.

Despite all his groundwork being laid and the usual superhero origin baggage already jettisoned, The Avengers director/screenwriter Joss Whedon’s job was not without obstacles. He had to co-write a tale with such scope as to not only encompass the ideals and personalities of the heroic Avengers but make a epic spectacle worthy of them as a whole. He flawlessly crafted the movie to take advantage of each individual characters personality, power, charm and ethos in such a way that allowed them to amalgamate as one, while retaining what makes each character unique. It's not without merit to say that the greatest worry of fans worldwide was that this could not be accomplished. I do not believe that any character overshadowed another and a fan of any of the characters would be well pleased by the offering here, continuing their adventure and expanding their horizon beyond the realm of what could be expected even by the most ardent fan. Many had their doubts that this could be pulled off in an adequate fashion and that Whedon’s true magic could only be woven on the small screen, but by the time the final credits rolled the nay-sayers were put in their place and few can argue against his phenomenal accomplishment.

This magnificent celluloid spectacle is flawless in every way and I take great pleasure in naming it one of the greatest movies I've ever seen.

Colonel Creedon rating: EXEMPTION GRANTED

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The frogs' new boss

As they have precious little to be proud of, the french people today made the best of a rare moment of pride to usher in the 7th president of the Fifth Republic, Francois Hollande. He arrived this morning at the 18th-century Elysee Palace where he was greeted by outgoing president Nicolas Sarkozy and they held a 40-minute private meeting. This meeting is of course to facilitate the transfer of france's nuclear codes and where a representative of UNETIDA would provide him with "The Blue Book".

After taking his oath, Hollande received the insignia of the Grand Croix from Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, Great Chancellor of the national order of the Legion of Honour and the necklace of the Great Master of the Order of the Legion of Honor. Each linked medallion of the necklace bears the name of a president, with Hollande's name recently added.

In his first speech, Hollande vowed to fight financial speculation but acknowledged that he inherits huge government debt. He opposes austerity measures championed by Germany in favour of government stimulus. "My mandate is to bring france back to justice, open up a new way in Europe, contribute to world peace and preserve the planet," Mr Hollande said.

Hollande also pledged to bring "dignity" to the presidential role — something voters felt that Sarkozy did not always do. Voters were disappointed over Sarkozy's handling of france's economy — which has high unemployment and low growth — and recoiled at his aggressive personality [and for france - that was saying something!]

After his inauguration, Mr Hollande stood before a military band as it played the french national anthem, La Marseillaise. As with tradition, 21 gun shots were fired above the Invalides that holds Napoleon's tomb. He shook hands with the people before reviewing troops in the palace gardens. Trailed by dozens of Republican Guardsmen on horseback and motorcycle, Hollande's hybrid Citroen DS5 rode up the center of the Champs-Elysees heading for the Arc de Triomphe, and its monument to the unknown soldier.

Hollande plans to leave shortly on his first diplomatic foray — to Berlin, where he is meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel for a critical meeting on austerity and growth in Europe.

Movie Mini-Reviews - 15-05-12

Cabin In The Woods

Joss Whedon's fan-service film is an interesting take on the "Slasher movie" genre by injecting it with science-fiction. For anyone else this would not work but Whedon manages to pull it off quite successfully. I don't think the mindless simpletons who love horror movies will be too impressed by this though, its far to clever an idea and too well written for them to fully comprehend.

Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Jessie Williams, Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford; Whedon weaves a tale by where the staple eerie deserted cabin in the middle of nowhere is actually on top of a huge secret government-sanctioned facility with a somewhat nefarious purpose.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ***1/2


Once you leave most of your brain at home, this is a very enjoyable B-movie starring Guy L.A. Confidential Pierce as Snow a former CIA Agent sent into an orbital maximum security prison where the inmates are running amok to both clear his name for a crime he didn't commit and to rescue the President's daughter Emilie [Maggie Taken Grace].

When you consider that this movie [with the aid of Luc Besson] was written and directed by two Irish fellas who studied in Dun Laoghaire and never directed a feature film before then you have to be fuckin' impressed. Stephen St. Leger and James Mather previously directed the most incredible short film I've ever seen - Prey Alone and this movie is an extension of the extraordinary budget-conscious ideas they explored in that. I hope to see more from them.

Colonel Creedon Rating: ****


I respectfully request that a new genre be created henceforth, known as 'The Statham'. 

This will be a sub-genre of the staple action movie but specifically characterised by:
1. starring Jason Statham
and one or more of the caveats:
2. shooting [normally while running and/or jumping]
3. running [normally while shooting]
4. driving [probably while shooting]

Safe will be the most recent offering of the genre which should be retroactively applied to The Transporter [and sequels], Crank and War to name but a few. Provisions should also be made for identifying dual genre Stathams like The Mechanic and Blitz  [Statham/Thriller] and also where there may be elements of superior traditional action not necessarily encompassed by the Statham, such as The Expendables [Statham/Action].

Safe is an excellent Statham.

Colonel Creedon Verdict: ****1/2

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I did not initially want to see this movie, in part because I knew nothing about it and Mel Gibson's public bigotry is reaching proportions that I'm frankly uncomfortable with. Due to the current level of negative public perception of Gibson in the US, Get The Gringo [as it is known there] is a Video on Demand as opposed to a theatrical release which doesn't inspire confidence. But I guess Gibson's no Roman Polanski or Woody Allen, so when the opportunity to see this came about I said I'd give it a shot. 

It's no secret that Mexico is a practically lawless hellhole [or at least that's the impression I have from watching movies like this and seeing news reports like this] so I was surprised to discover that it even had prisons. After a dramatic chase across the border, Gibson's character finds himself in a unique prison in which the daily life and routine inside is probably better for inmates than people living outside. He befriends the son of another inmate who was killed for his liver, and due to the boy's rare blood type, he too will one day be murdered to prolong the life of the prison's most influential inmate, a Mexican crime boss.

Sadly Gibson is getting far to old to be running and shooting and at 55 is a little unconvincing here. I recall him saying that he didn't want to be a film star anymore and would act only if the script was good enough. Yes, he co-wrote this movie! Nevertheless, this is certainly a different take on the prison-movie genre and was very well paced and judged by first time director Adrian Grunberg who was Gibson's 1stAD on Apocalypto. The action scenes were thankfully unstylised in keeping with a realistic tone and I was well impressed at seeing someones eyeball explode through sunglasses that shattered - I can't recall seeing that before. I doubt this was supported by the Mexican tourist board.

Colonel Creedon Verdict: ***1/2

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Lucas Day

Happy Birthday George!

Friday, May 04, 2012

$1000 Scientific Gold could be a potential Alien Threat!

A meteor the size of a minivan exploded over northern California on the morning of April 22nd raining tiny fragments of a rare type of meteorite debris down over the Sierra Nevada towns of Coloma and Lotus. Since then, much like the gold rush that took place there over 150 years ago, people have flocked to the area in the hope of collecting some fragments which on the open market could fetch over $1000!

“People used to pull the gold out of the ground. Now, things fall out of the sky,” NASA research astrophysicist Scott Sandford said. “Lucky place, I guess.” The meteor fragments are the first of their kind to fall to the Earth since the '60's and the particles inside are older than the sun itself so they are of extreme importance to scientists.

CM type carbonaceous chondrite fragment. Photo credit: Earthweek
Robert Ward a 35-year-old professional meteorite hunter and dealer, drove for 16 hours and spotted a dark space pebble in the parking lot where he finally stopped. He immediately recognized it as carbonaceous chondrite, meteorites containing water and carbon — scientific gold to those studying the beginnings of the universe. "I was trembling," Ward said. "It's the rarest of the rare. It's older than the sun. It holds the building blocks of life."

“Oh they hold life alright!” said Dr. “Quantum” Pataal, Director of UNETIDA Research and Development “but not the kind we want living here!” But if UNETIDA know that the fragments could be potentially dangerous, then why allow them to be picked up and traded by civilians? “We used to have the budget for media warnings where we would claim that meteorites were ‘highly irradiated’ and have collection teams scan the area to pick them up,” said  Colonel “Whopper” Creedon, Acting Director of Intelligence for UNETIDA. Sadly in a clear sign that military funding for propaganda campaigns and scientific research was running dry; Creedon revealed that UNETIDA are basically using the civilian gatherers as potential bait for alien spores that are suspected to be inside the fragments. Creedon offered that instead of trying to collect all the meteorites themselves, it’s much easier for UNETIDA to hunt down whatever the alien spores transform the meteorite collectors into, as well as being “a lot more fun!”

Sources: CNN / L.A. Times / BBC News

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Joel Goldsmith 1957-2012

It's with regret that I must announce the passing of  Joel Goldsmith, TV, Film and Video Game music composer and eldest son of the legendary Jerry Goldsmith. Goldsmith [54] died of cancer on Sunday, at his home in Hidden Hills, California.

Goldsmith's early work was deep into the electronic range of the late 70's early 80's and he earned his mark as an arranger for composer Richard Band before scoring The Man With Two Brains in '83. His father had him produce Jerry's first electronic score Runaway in '84. Their collaboration included some 20 minutes of additional music for Jerry's sublime score to Star Trek: First Contact in 1996. Among the other movies which benefit from his work are Moon 44 from 1990 which was his first symphonic score and Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence ['93] but Kull the Conqurer ['97] with a big, bold symphonic score is probably his best known movie work.

He was one of the first well known movie and TV composers to make the jump to video games when they began to cease using 16-bit audio when he scored the TCN News reports for the cutscenes for Tom Clancy's SSN for Simon and Schuster Interactive. He later scored Call of Duty 3 in 2006.

Later in his career Joel turned to TV scoring having dabbled with The Untouchables series from 1993 and The Outer Limits in 1997. He found his niche and international fame when he supplemented David Arnold's Stargate theme for the Stargate: SG-1 TV series pilot in 1997 and was kept on for 10 seasons scoring 217 episodes between 1997 and 2007. He also composed the theme and episodic music for both Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe and the Stargate: SG-1 DTV movies.

Joel Goldsmith sadly needed more time to leave the mark his father did on music as a whole but his life was tragically cut short before he could get there. If any of you heard his deeply emotional and atmospheric music from Stargate: Universe you will know he was at a turning point in his creativity and was on the road to true brilliance. Nonetheless he can rest rest in peace knowing that his contributions, especially to science fiction fans will live on. We don't forget people easily.