Category Archives: Reviews

Metallica, Muse and U2. A review.

So, following on from my rants about the year in music, I went to a heap of big concerts this year.

Faith No More, Metallica (twice), Muse, U2

Add to that; Children Collide, Regurgitator, Big Day Out, Illy, Little Red/Sparkadia, Grinspoon, and you have a pretty good year of music!

But over the last month or so I went to 3 of the big ones.

Metallica

I have never seen them live before. I always wanted to be in the Snake Pit back in 1993 but couldn’t afford it. So I made up for it in 2010 by seeing the Kings of Metal, twice. The first time was standing up on the floor about 5 metres away from James Hetfield. What can I say? AMAZING. They are the ultimate professionals. Their stage setup is great, with the audience surrounding them as they pelt around the stage non-stop giving every angle of the arena a piece of the ‘talica. Their music was the biggest highlight. They varied their setlist for both of the gigs I went to, playing old and new stuff and only ONE ballad. (you know the one)

The 2nd time I saw them I was up in the upper level of Acer Arena, but having the front row was great as I got an excellent view of their on-stage shenanigans and the sound was probably better than the first gig. They even played Last Caress and Leper Messiah which went OFF.

It’s bloody awesome to be able to see a band that you have been idolising for 20 years finally in the flesh and soak in your favourite songs being played RIGHT THERE. That’s the key to seeing live music. It’s LIVE. It’s happening. Awesome shows

Muse

Having seen Muse twice already at the Big Day Out’s of 2007 and 2010 I thought I’d know what to expect from these giants of UK rock. I had tickets to see their headline show in 2007 as well, but couldn’t make it, so I was dead keen to finally see them do their own thing on stage.

First, their stage set-up was great. We had seated tickets (that’s what I get for letting old fart mates get tickets!) and were seated almost side of stage. 3 big skyscrapers were positioned on stage and I wondered whether we’d be able to see anything at all.

Yeah, I shouldn’t have worried. The sounds of ‘Uprising’ began and huge cloths dropped off the towers revealing the guys lifted up off the stage on individual platforms. AWESOME.

Matt Bellamy is a real showman, which is funny because he hardly spoke for the whole gig. Dom (drummer) said a few things on the mic, but that was about it. Matt had the clothes (think mirror-ball jacket), the moves (spinning around during Plug in Baby or  shining light over the crowd) and the attitude.

Overall the show was good, but not as great as I’d expected actually. They played most of the hits. Their stage show was great, but I was a little disappointed with the constant filler music between songs, including the symphonic songs from Resistance . Too many extended intros and pissing around between songs. They didn’t play Bliss or MK Ultra, 2 of my favourites and they could have easily fit them in if it weren’t for the theatrics. I’m all for a stage-show and some theatrics are good, but not at the expense of more songs. 15 songs in an almost 2 hour set? Not enough when you have 5 albums worth of material. I think they probably almost played the same amount of songs in their Big Day Out sets.

EDIT: In fact, I confirmed this. They played 15 songs at the Sydney Big Day out 2010 as well!

Of course there were massive highlights. Starlight absolutely went off and Knights of Cydonia to finish was massive. They are a tops band, but in retrospect I actually think I enjoyed their Big Day Out shows more than their headline.

U2

Is there a bigger band in the world than U2? I mean, I know The Rolling Stones are still kicking around, but they’re too crusty to count any more. LaLa had seen U2 3 times previously and made sure that I came along to the 360 degrees tour outside at ANZ Stadium.

Firstly, I was stoked to be at grass level in ANZ Stadium. I have seen many a footy match in there, including the great Socceroos vs Uruguay game of 2005 and to actually be in the centre of that massive stadium was a big thrill. Then I saw the stage. Holy crap! It was the biggest stage I’d ever seen, and I remember the Guns n’ Roses stage from Eastern Creek!

We made our way up closer, around 25 metres or so from the stage and settled in for Jay-Z, who was the support for the Australian leg of their world tour (Muse did their US leg!). Jay-Z had an impressive setup. I counted 12 people on stage including a sweet looking bari-sax and other horns. The drummer was elevated and it looked very cool. We caught half of their set including ’99 Problems’, ‘H to the Izzo’ and ‘Empire State of Mind’. He was ok. I am not much of a fan, but it was good to see him live for a little.

At 9pm U2 made their way, slowly, walking up to the stage. The tension and atmosphere were great as they made their way up. No theatrics to their entrance! I felt myself getting quite excitement at seeing Bono and the boys in the flesh after all these years. Beautiful Day was their 2nd song and it set the tone for an extremely fun and entertaining set. Bono didn’t do his expected preaching at all other than to comment on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi which was commendable. He also noted that more than 2000 Burmese are still detained for their political beliefs which is a good point.

They played ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Pride’, my 2 favourites and rolled out 24 songs in their 2 hour set. They just played hit after hit and for the old blokes that they are, it was great to see!

Vertigo was a highlight of the night as the ever-evolving stage move the big screens from the top right down to just above the band’s heads and rotated lights all the way around (hence 360 degrees!).

The massive tower that rose up from the middle of the stage had a disco ball on it and both this and a lower ball spun during the encore to an amazing effect over the packed out stadium. It really looked spectaular.

Clearly, this was the best and most elaborate stage I had ever seen. The music was very solid and you really couldn’t fault anything from the night. They did play a number of songs that I had never heard of, but then again I am not a huge fan so I wouldn’t expect to know them all.

Needless to say, U2 fans were happy and they’ll surely return to the next show in 4 years!

I might as well…

….and just for the hell of it, here’s a pic from when the Gurge hit the Maram Bar in Canberra in August.

Quan, Ben, Pete. They rocked it. They always do.


The 2010 Music Round-Up

Hi kiddies!

It’s that time of the year again. Time to round up the last 12 months of music and collate some sort of obligatory list that gives you all my musical impressions.

It’ll either make me come off as a music-snob, a music-nerd or a music-wannabe-nerd-snob. Take your pick 🙂

As any avid reader of my blog would know (Hi LaLa), I delight in making the end of year Top 10 Album list. I also delight in ranting about the music that I love. Note that the music I love generally gets played on the one and only Triple J and usually blasted through my car radio (thanks LaLa) or through my speakers at work.

I also like to play whole albums when I can, either at work, at home on the weekends or in the car on the way to Sydney.

Although playing whole albums gets to be a harder and harder task nowadays. Firstly. They’re too freaking long! Who has 45+ minutes to listen to an album from start to finish. Who listens to an album from Song 1 to song 10 in one sitting?

We all know that if you like the first 4 or 5 songs on the album you’re going to play them at a ratio of 4:1 over the rest of the album.

Regurgitator have taken the right approach. Screw ‘The Album’. There is no place for 10 track albums in todays society. Flick out a few songs as you write them here and there and let the public digest them regularly rather than waiting 3 years for 3 great songs, 3 decent ones, 2 ok ones and 3 fillers.

Having said all that, I love albums. Actually, let me rephrase that… I love GOOD albums. The albums that you CAN listen to from start to finish and not want to change to some schlock 90’s grunge. That is the all important criteria here (thanks to Triple J’s Zan for the inspiration).

So here we go. The List, in no particular order because it changes in my head every 15 minutes.

Children Collide – The Theory of Everything

This 3 piece Melbournian band takes me back. Yes, all the way back to 1991, reminding me of a little band known as Nirvana. The talented blonde erratic guitarist lead singer. The long haired tall bassist with strange moves. The hard-hitting drummer. It’s all there and these guys aren’t a one album wonder. Their sophmore album is every bit as good as their debut, if not better. They play a mean live set and they consume everyone in their path. These guys should be huge, but ironically their path to hugedom entails appealing to the commercialist public which probably means losing their edge. I’m happy for them to stay on the edge. It’s where they sound best

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

What can be said about this band that hasn’t been said by everyone else that has picked them in their Top 10 list? Tame Impala have taken a direct path to stardom.

Sign an international deal with Modular before you even release anything. Check.
Release a debut self-titled EP to critical acclaim. Check.
Cover a corny 90’s pop song (Remember Me) and land in the Hottest 100. Check.
Support the hottest new US act’s tour around America (MGMT). Check.
Release debut album and win The J Award. Check.

This year has been their year with a psychodelic, 70’s-esque wah-fest album that somehow feels right at home in 2010. I love the way this album feels when I listen to it. It surrounds you with warm colourful sounds that make you wish you were old enough to appreciate the first time this sort of music came out. Listen if you haven’t..

Angus & Julia Stone – Down The Way

This one is too easy to pick. Yet another Australian band that is making it massive overseas and at the same time making us proud to own them. Haunting alternate vocals from the sibling duo give this album a dual layer of listenability with each one’s vocals adding something different to their song.

The words, the melodies and those damn fine voices make this an unforgettable album which somehow eclipsed their debut. Getting to see them live at a festival in London was also pretty damn special.

Sia – We Are Born

Oh Sia, your album title is poignant as it is like you have been born again. Your time with Zero 7 and your more soulful jazzy days have passed and you are re-born as a pop queen with amazingly catchy melodies, pulsing beats and very cutesy video clips. You’ve reshaped yourself and I defy anyone to be upset by that. I admire your will to turn against your record company and make the album you wanted. Surely they would be regretting their decisions now.

I love the fact that Sia does what she wants, says what she wants but still comes out smelling like roses.  Highlights of this album have to be ‘Bring  Night’ and ‘Clap Your Hands’ (both favourites for my kids), but the whole album has a happy feel to it.

Yeasayer – Odd Blood

This band came out of nowhere for me. I heard snippets of  ‘Ambling Alp’ near the start of the year and thought it sounded cool. Sort of an MGMT-esque, electronic/rocky pop sound. And then ONE came out and we all blew our collective loads. 4 months later I would be front row at the Latitude festival in London watching their amazing set. One of the real highlights of the year for me and a fantastic album to boot with enough good vibey catchy tunes to keep you coming back

Mark Ronson & the Business International
– Record Collection

I was a minor fan of Mark Ronson from his previous album but I was never convinced that he could pull off an album of music that I would listen to. I was wrong!

This album pulls amazing melodies, marching band drums and smooth lyrics together to make a completely addictive album. ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and  ‘Lose It (In the End) are standouts on this album that makes you feel good when you listen to it. He collaborates with some random artists on this album as well.  Ghostface Killa, Simon Le Bon, The Drums, Boy George. He doesn’t hold back. Somehow this mish-mash of songs just works.

Eddy Current Suppression Ring – Rush to Relax

I discovered this band about a century after everyone else. A small stage at Homebake in 2009 whilst Powderfinger drew the majority of the audience in the main arena.  There we were, my mate and I, about 3 rows back watching a front man(with a glove) singing in fits and starts while jumping about the stage in some sort of spasmodic fashion. A guitarist with an intense love of speed riffs and a non-plussed bassist banging out fast rocky punkish 3 minute songs.

I was blown away! 2010 saw a new album from this Melbourne 3 piece and it picks up from their previous work. Edgy, raw and ready rock that has to be seen to be believed. Anxiety ranks as one of my favs of the year, but you can listen to this whole album again and again and feel like you are there…without the glove.

———————————–

Now, I know that’s only 7 albums, but I have a confession to make. I didn’t listen to a whole lot of albums that blew me away this year. I listen to the radio predominantly. If I hear a couple of songs from the same artist that I like, I source the album. These are the 7 that I really enjoyed from this year.

I also enjoyed Koolism, Two Door Cinema Club, Surfer Blood, Little Red, LCD Soundsystem, Illy, Gorillaz and Vampire Weekend, but couldn’t say that I listened to their albums enough ALL THE WAY THROUGH to include them in the list.

So should I be making more of an effort to listen to full albums, or should I just keep listening to Triple J, letting them create a compilation album for my listening pleasure?

A lot of Top 10 Album lists have included albums from The National, Arcade Fire, Kanye, Deerhunter, Sleigh Bells and Parades to name a few, but a lot of it just isn’t my bag…. ESPECIALLY Arcade Fire, which was ironically selected as the No. 1 album by Triple J listeners.

I just don’t get them at all. I sat through their set whilst waiting for RATM at the 2008 Big Day Out and I was less than inspired. Is something wrong with me or do others share in my ‘meh’ feeling for them?

Almost time to think about my voting for the Hottest 100 as well. I think that will be an easier list to collate….


The Social Network. We’re all in one.

Thanks of a very generous twitterer I was given the chance to see The Social Network on Monday night.

Quick Synopsis:

Nerd from Harvard wants to be popular.

Nerd makes popular website.

Nerd gets into trouble.

Nerd makes even more popular website.

Nerd gets into even more trouble.

Nerd makes a billion dollars.

Nerd is popular….but still a Nerd.

The End.

Yes, it’s the story of that little website that rose from obscurity in the mid 2000’s to become the No.2 website in the world (after Google). It has also made Mark Zuckerberg, the founder/creator/nerd the youngest billionaire in the world with a worth of around 6.9 billion dollars. (click here to see what that could buy)

The film is essentially about the court cases surrounding the inital boom of the website, but we are taken back in time to see what occured during the pivotal moments of Zuckerberg’s rapid rise to riches.

You wouldn’t think this would make an especially enthralling film….but that is where you’re wrong. This film is exceptionally made in almost every way. First, you have David Fincher directing it. I’ve loved this guy since Se7en, which was also beautifully shot in almost every way. (also Fight Club, The Game, Panic Room, Zodiac, Benjamin Button and the new Dragon Tattoo US version). He gives this film an almost gritty edge to it. Surprising seeing as though the majority of it is filmed on a campus location (actually at Johns Hopkins Uni, not Harvard).

Secondly, you have Aaron Sorkin writing the screenplay. He wrote the 90’s hit, ‘A Few Good Men’, but is better known for his work on ‘The West Wing’. This would explain the incredible wordy opening sequence (which took 99 takes), in which Zuckerberg and his gf discuss their relationship.

The film itself just works. It’s fast paced, it has excellent performances from Jesse Eisenberg and particularly Justin Timberlake, who should definitely pursue acting a lot more. He plays the inventor of Napster, Sean Parker, and portrays him brilliantly, assuming that the actual person is paranoid, boisterous and charismatic.

When I walked out of the cinema I couldn’t help feeling that this is a movie for our generation. I specifically mean, for Gen X and Y. The Internet generations. We’ve all grown up with the Internet. We use it every single day and many have since the mid 90’s, but it wasn’t until Facebook appeared that we all joined together so whole-heartedly to create an online community that consumed so many.

My first experience of Facebook was early in 2006 when I was living and working in the US. I befriended a girl from Georgetown University who showed me the site. Of course at the time it was restricted to Universities and High Schools. It was until September of that year that anyone could create their profile.

The film goes a long way to show how the ideas for the site originated. Primarily the idea was taken and massaged from other students into what would become the original ‘TheFacebook.com’. The addition of personal information, relationship status and the infamous wall made it similar to MySpace, but it was the clean interface, speed and unique ability for added applications that helped it grow.

Whether you’re Gen X, Y, Baby Boomer or old fart you should enjoy this movie. If you’re like me you’ll also enjoy the awesome soundtrack provided by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame. Does industrial themed music work with this movie? Yes and suprisingly well. It adds that layer of depth to the scenes that Fincher would have loved and makes this more than a movie about a court case or a web site.

Well, stop reading this tripe and go see it already!

(funny)


CorinBAM!

It has been one hell of a weekend.

I spent it out at Corinbank. A music festival unlike any other.

Not only was I an avid punter keen to see You Am I, Urthboy and Clare Bowditch, I was also a ‘Corinteer’. I put my name down to volunteer at the event late last year assuming that I would have little chance of actually doing it. Not only did I get a chance to volunteer, I was assigned to the Rangers & Communication team which involves roaming the site, checking everything is churning along okr and generally being the eyes and ears on the ground for the organisers and comms team.

Disappointingly I have not been to that many festivals, and never a multi-day camp-out festival. Splendour, Falls, Woodford.. I haven’t been to any of them. I realise that is a major failing on my part. So with the chance to go to a 3 day festival in my own backyard, how could I not go?

I pitched my tent on Friday and we were shown around the site by the managing director of the festival. With very few people around I was finding it hard to imagine what it’d be like with thousands of people arriving over the next day or so. There are 2 main stages at either end of the large Corin Forest site with a snake like trail of creative campsites, stalls, workshops and small stages along the way.

Creative campsites is an initiative to let the public contribute their own ideas to the festival. People could create their own little site or stall in exchange for discounted tickets. There was an advice tent, a hacky sack site, artistic stalls, a letter writing area (I haven’t heard a typewriter in years!), twister, solar powered ovens and shitloads more. This area was pumping during the days on Saturday and Sunday. Always something going on.

At the far end of the snake lies the Gibraltar Grove stage. Nestled in amongst the forest is a wooden stage that almost feels like it grew there. This stage is where I would go on to discover such musical gems as Alice Cottee, Anarchist Duck, Space Party and the Ellis Collective. The natural ampitheatre surrounded by giant gums was the perfect backdrop to beautiful music.

I was also informed that the angle of the stage is perfectly aligned with the Mt. Ainslie to Parliament House axis. Google Maps seems to back this up:

Very cool!

The main action of the weekend occurs down at the main ‘Billy Billy’ stage. Food, clothing, art, ‘happy herb’ and massage stalls dot the area. This whole area is shadowed by spectacularly angled gum trees. You can’t look anywhere over the weekend without seeing nature which is what makes this festival feel so special.

The festival is very focussed on the creed of ‘leave no waste’. To support this there are bins located everywhere with the standard recycling and general waste bins but also with compost bins into which all plates, cutlery and even plastic bio-degradable beer cups can be tossed. The message obviously works as I saw barely any trash on the ground throughout the weekend. People are obviously conscious of the fact that they are responsible for their own waste. It’s great to see.

During a couple of my shifts I worked with the ‘Rat Patrol’ who are in charge of  waste for the festival. Filled bins are swapped with empty ones and dumped into 1 of 2 skip bins, or a compost pile. Proof of the compost option are evident with a compost garden grown from the previous years pile. I hope my home compost will actually become useful one of these days.

This team does an amazing job at keeping the site clean. No overflowing bins at all and with the sheer number of bins this is not an easy feat. I am hugely impressed with the effort these guys put in. I did a 3 hr shift on the Rat Patrol and I was absolutely buggered. Some sort of wheelie-bin-towing-bike will definitely have to be invented!

At the core of this festival is a team of passionate people that invest a massive amount of time, effort, sweat and love into making it happen. I was glad to be able to contribute a tiny amount of my time to helping it happen this year, but these guys live and breathe the festival for most of the year. The positive vibe and smiling faces of people are the payback for all the hard work. More than one artist commented on the positivity of the crowd and Tim Rogers (of You Am I) made mention that usually he deals with objects being thrown at him as well as aggro’d up bone-heads in the crowd rather than smiling faces.

Overall the pace of the weekend is languid at best, possibly contributed by the distinct smell in the air. I think the fastest I saw anyone move was when a short sharp thunder storm hit during Clare Bowditch’s set. Whilst hundreds huddled under the beer tent, dozens more danced away in the rain. Bowditch made a comment that watching people dancing in the rain like that will stay in her memory for a long time.

Her set was fanastic. She showed off a new single from the upcoming album, and pulled out some oldies which had the crowd singing along.

You Am I seemed to play a fairly diverse set. Whilst they inevitably rolled out the obvious  favourites ‘Rumble’, ‘Berlin Chair’ and ‘Cathy’s Clown’, they played a bunch of tracks that I don’t think the crowd recognised including a few off their 2008 album that received very little airplay.

The musical highlight of the weekend for me was Urthboy’s performance on the Saturday night. Being a long time ‘Herd’ fan I was keen to see both Urthboy and Ozi Batla (Astronomy Class) doing their things separately. As a bonus we got Hermitude on the decks as well, often jumping on stage with Urthboy and Jane Tyrrell. Man, did they look like they were having fun. He was just non-stop for the whole hour and belted out his hits and heaps of other top stuff from his 3 albums. I was front row for the set and looking back, I could see how pumped the crowd were. Urthboy obviously noticed as well as he jumped (well, stepped off the stage and walked) into the crowd for the last song. The vibe was awesome!


Whilst the music was a major reason people were there, I think it’s the festival as a whole that pulls people out to the bush for a few days. There’s a definite community feel to the place. You see familiar faces all weekend and by the Sunday night you feel like everyone’s your friend.

For me personally I went to the festival by myself and only knew about 3 or 4 other people going. I pitched a tent by myself. I usually ate by myself and I generally walked around by myself, but everytime I sat down at a performance or a table to eat I managed to strike up a convo with someone and got to hear some great stories and chat about the festival.

Being a ‘Corinteer’ I met some really great fellow volunteers as well as getting to hang with some of the organisers on the Sunday night. For me this was a huge highlight as I got to see some of what makes a festival like this tick and to share in the passion of creating something that thousands of people enjoy.

I think it’s awesome that someone could sit down and go, “I’m going to start a festival”. You’ve gotta have guts and a buttload of talent and help to pull it off successfully. Dan and his team have pulled off 3 years of Corinbank and it doesn’t look like stopping in a hurry. This make me damn happy cause it means I’ll get to do it all again next year!


We’re Watching The Watchmen..

watchmen-coverDuring my time in the USA in 2006, I was exposed to ‘The Watchmen’. It’s a graphic novel that was written in 1986/87 as a 12 part comic series. It was later combined into a graphic novel and became one of the best known and well written graphic novels of all time.

Why did it take me 20 years to read? I really don’t know, but as soon as I read it and LOVED it, I heard rumblings about a movie that was going to be made. The movie rights were actually bought back in 1986 by 20th Century Fox.

5 years later and nothing concrete could be written or decided on, until the project moved to Warner Bros, and Terry Gilliam chosen to direct it. I think he would have been a good match for this movie, but because Gilliam’s movie’s tend to go over budget (or not be made at all), the studio only gave them $25 Mil and it was decided that the film would not be made. Gilliam pulled out and called the film ‘unfilmable’.

So the movie then moved to Universal Pictures and a new scriptwriter was employed. David Hayter turned in his first draft of the script in 2002. The movie was meant to start filming in 2004. The project again fell apart at both Universal and Revolution Pictures.

In December 2005, Warner Bros were again attached to the project and Zack Snyder was asked to direct after his successful adaption of  ‘300’ for the screen. Alex Tse was asked to write the script and finally the film was a goer.

Apart from some legal wrangling with 20th Century, the project went pretty smoothly and became the movie that was released a few weeks ago.

Firstly, it has to be said that the comic is a very cerebral read. It’s not your standard BANG, KAPOW, FLUMP!! read. It is very complex, with magazine and newspaper articles intermingled with ‘real-life’ extracts of books. There is also a sub-story called ‘Tales of the Black Freighter’. This is being ‘read’ by a character in the comic and progresses through each issue along with the rest of the main story. To say this comic is complex is probably an understatement. Even after 2 reads I have not taken it all in. I will definitely have another crack at it soon though.

watchmenOk, so. The MOVIE!

It came out a few weeks back as I said, but because of holidays, a broken foot and some busy weeks, I haven’t had a chance to see it. Also, it goes for around 160 minutes, so you need a fair whack of time to devote to it!

The first thing I liked about this movie is the casting. You don’t have Jessica Alba’s or Robert Downey Jr’s or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s here. You’ve got relatively unknown actors like Malin Akerman (27 Dresses), Billy Crudup (Almost Famous) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy). I think it helps, when coverting a well known comic book to the big screen, that you see the character on the screen, and not a ‘Captain Sparrow’, or ‘Lara Croft’. This did, however, mean that one character, Ozymandias, played by Matthew Goode, really didn’t work for me. I thought his acting left a lot to be desired and it distracted me in the scenes that he was in.

However, the real celebration of this movie was the adaption and synchronisation to the book. Some of the scenes came directly from the page and were depicted amazingly. I love the little ‘Easter Eggs’ that were retained in the movie. The attention to detail was excellent. Apparently Zack Snyder carried the book around with him and used it as a story board for the movie. And why wouldn’t you?

This is a violent movie. The violence is meant to be an example of the violent and turbulent society that we live in, but you could say that some of the fighting scenes in this movie are a bit gratuitous. It does have some nice use of ‘wires’ when the characters get smacked around though. Never knew you could punch hard enough to make someone fly 10 feet away!

Translating a 12 part comic book into a movie was going to be hard because there is SO much to include, and obviously you can’t remake every single frame. The original cut of the movie was over 3 hours long and although Snyder chopped 20 or more minutes out, he has revealed that a Director’s cut will be released in July. This will probably help the box office figures which have apparently been ok for March, but haven’t yet cracked the $100 Million mark in the US. (98 Million as at 22 March)

So, why should you see this movie? The storyline. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before in a comic book adaption.

Think of the world in the mid 80’s. You’ve got ’99 Luftballoons’ banging out of the stereo and the hairstyles, the clothes and the attitudes of the people are wild. We’re in an alternate reality. Nixon has been elected for an (impossible) 3rd term, Russia is about to attack the Afghan border and has 50 odd nuclear missiles pointed at the east coast of America. The threat of Nuclear War is on the tip of everyone’s tongues and Fear is the government’s weapon of choice. (sound familiar?)

A small group of ‘superheroes’  stay in touch after legislation was brought down to prevent them from their vigilante hobbies. They are now just everyday people, but apparently you can’t give up the superhero game just like that. This is especially the case for Dr. Manhattan. A walking, talking man of blue matter and energy that has ”rebuilt’ himself after disintegrating in an atomic ‘test chamber’ accidentally.  (looks amazing) However, he doesn’t see himself so much as a superhero, but as a man that can help develop an infinite energy source.

See? It’s technical. There’s a few sub-plots within all this. Relationships are strained. People die, and there’s a detective theme throughout based of the diary of Rorschach. Now this character was my favourite in the movie. Excellently portrayed by Jackie Earle Haley, and his mask, with ever changing Rorschach ink-blots, are CGI effects at their best.

I can’t gush enough about this movie. Even the ‘alternate ending’ chosen by Snyder doesn’t spoil the effect that this movie had on me. Even LaLa, who has probably not read a comic book since Asterix The Gaul, enjoyed it, and that’s saying something!

5 out of 5 from me!

Watchmen

watchmen-jeh09-3-2

watchmen_comedian

watchmen_pic-2


I Want to Believe..

The new X-Files is what you expect, but not.

Remember the good old days of early X-Files episodes which weren’t obsessed with the whole alien conspiracy theories, smoking men and Mulder’s daughter?

The movie is like that and it works. Scully smokes up the screen, and together with Mulder they just make you wish you were an ex-FBI agent with time to kill.

I really enjoyed it and although I may have been expecting a little more it was worth the whole $10 I spent on it (love those Hoyts Bluetooth prices!).

So, we’ve landed on Mars and are making little footprints with Phoenix craft. They’ve found evidence that water was there as well, and are now looking for the proof of life.

It’s pretty awesome if they find something. What do we call animals/organisms that exist on a planet other than ours? It’s like a whole blank canvas and a spanking new planet we can destroy.

Oh, and then some weird looking creature ‘washed up’ on the beach in New York

Looks convincing hey?

It’s most likely some viral marketing for a new Cartoon Network show called Cryptids, but damn, I wish it was real. Those little horns are cool, and is it just me or does it look like he is giving us the finger?


Film Review: The Dark Knight

I will not spoil anything in this review, but to be honest, it’s quite hard to spoil it anyway. Nothing I could say would ruin this film.

But I digress.

Batman Begins was the start of a new era for Batman. He has been through many incarnations, from his original comic strip, the the old TV show, to the Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney years to now. And finally they have got it right.

Batman Begins represented the real and true Batman that Bob Kane always intended. It concentrated around the man that is Batman, Bruce Wayne, and around the reasons why he became the vigilante.

The Dark Knight is the movie that Christopher Nolan was meant to make. Batman Begins was just the beginning.

He has assembled a cast that brings Gotham and it’s dirty underworld to life. Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhardt, Michael Caine and Maggie Gyllenhaal. It’s a perfect cast, because they got rid of Katie Holmes, who basically ruined her role in the first movie.

All the talk has been around Heath’s performance, and I cannot take anything away from the accolades he has received. The maniacal Joker is brought to life like never seen before. Where Jack Nicholson brought the class and the wit of the Joker, Heath brings the seediness and the psychotic. It’s a scary performance in that you don’t even see Heath. We don’t see the man that brought us a gay cowboy, a larrikin school kid or a young modern knight. He consumes the role and scares the crap out of you by how well he does it.

But you can’t let Heath’s performance overshadow the other points of this movie. Christian Bale IS Batman. He works as the Dark Knight is better than as Bruce Wayne admittedly, but ironically Bruce Wayne has always been better as the vigilante than as himself. It’s who he is, and always will be.

Aaron Eckhardt, the man you will likely know as the Tobacco company spokesman from Thank You For Smoking, expertly plays Harvey Dent, the fresh faced newly appointed District Attorney for Gotham City. He is seen as the ‘White Knight’ that is going to save the city.

So what then, is The Batman?

Hence, the title and the moniker that he has assumed over the years. The Dark Knight.

This film was always going to get a 5 star rating from me. I knew it would before I saw it, but I was worried about building my hopes up too much. You never want to presume a movie is going to blow you away. Inevitably you will be disappointed.

I was not disappointed.

I can’t rave about it enough. The action, the acting, the directing, the sets, the music, the cinematography, the writing. Everything. It’s the Batman movie I have been waiting 20 years for. That is when I started to read the comic books.

Batman is the people’s hero, and the underlying theme in this movie is just that. He is the hero that the people need. In whatever form that takes.

This is why Batman is easily the best superhero ever created.

Oh yeah, and check out the bike. It’s freaking awesome.

And this shot of the Joker is just perfect. Exactly how I have always wanted to see him.

This is how he looks in comic form. This is the famous strip from ‘A Death in the Family‘. Note the use of the crowbar.

or The Joker from ‘The Killing Joke’

But when it comes down to it. Batman is the hero.

Norm Breyfogle is my favourite Batman artist. Here’s an example of why.