Archive | February, 2014

Editor’s Column #6

24 Feb

With the recent release of The Lego Movie it is apparent that the idea of adapting beloved toys and best-selling board games into blockbuster films has come roaring back into frame over the past few years.

Three Transformers films, with another due this year, two G.I. Joe films and Battleship have all released in the recent past and most have done really well commercially, though not always critically. Even the notorious bomb Battleship made over $300m worldwide thanks to a solid foreign performance; though hopefully we won’t be seeing a sequel anytime soon, or ever.


It is important to stress that this phenomena is by no means a novelty, in the 1980s there was the well-liked Clue film in 1985, based on the Cluedo board game, as well as a My Little Pony film, starring Danny DeVito, and a Care Bear film, both which spawned various sequels over the years.

We seem to be living in the ‘golden age’ of toy and board game based films as the studios now have the necessary visual technologies, which allows for Optimus Prime et al. to be brought to life on the big screen, without using dodgy puppets or animation. The Transformers films get a lot of hate but everyone, some begrudgingly, will admit the robots look realistic – as much as huge, transforming robots can look real – which would not have been possible a generation ago. This phenomenon seems like the case in point where studios had to wait for the technology had to catch up with the ideas.

The films in question are usually not particularly good – BratzBattleshipTransformers 2, et cetera – but they are unique as the allow people’s childhoods to come alive, literally. The toys that occupied many a child’s days no longer need imagination to come alive, they’re now on the screen walking, talking and probably shooting. With Lego blocks you could build anything and this notion translates perfectly to the screen where in these times of Life of Pi and Avatar, nothing seems impossible. A living, breathing Lego metropolis is now ‘real’ on the silver screen and no longer requires a ton of cash, bricks and an avid imagination.

With Transformers 4, a Hot Wheels movie and a Monopoly movie all on the way, and with a Lego sequel now looking likely after its stellar opening, it is apparent that we are in the midst of our childhood being catapulted into Hollywood, lets just hope it doesn’t get too damaged along the way.


Editor’s Column #5

10 Feb

January and the New Year are just behind us, and February has already arrived. The Golden Globes have been and gone (how great were Tina Fey and Amy Poehler!?!) and the BAFTAs and the Oscars are fast approaching on the horizon. Awards season is well and truly in full swing now, exciting times indeed.
In terms of university, exams and essay deadlines are behind us (for now) and a new term awaits which for some of us is our last few months in formal education.

More importantly, in terms of film this is probably the best time of the year. The cinemas are stuffed with great films, most in contention for illustrious awards at the aforementioned ceremonies. There is never another time of the year where the audience is so spoilt with choice, maybe apart from occasional summer blockbuster season. This year, we are lucky enough to have some real doozies: GravityAmerican Hustle12 Years a Slave to name just a few of my favourites from those that I have managed to see. There really is a very strong line-up this year, it may sound clichéd but this awards season feels like it is hosting some of the best films in recent times; the sheer emboldened mastery of Gravity, the 70s hair and intoxicating entertainment of American Hustle to the sobering ordeal of Solomon Northup in McQueen’s masterpiece, 12 Years a Slave. Importantly, all are memorable and in an age where many films are forgotten after the credits roll this is a somewhat valuable commodity.


There are of course a few disappointments and films that are snubbed for the big awards, many perhaps unjustly. Scorsese’s 3-hour chronicle of Jordan Belfort was epic in runtime but little else, despite some brilliant performances. Will DiCaprio finally win an Oscar this year seems to be the question on everybody’s mind, but equally noticeable is the lack of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson from the list of Oscar nominees.

The run-up to the big ceremonies is also a great time to catch up on previous winners and create for yourself an Oscar or BAFTA ‘crash-course’. Catch up on 21st century winners such as ArgoThe Hurt LockerChicago and Brokeback Mountain or go back to older gems such as PattonKramer vs. Kramer and Cabaret and marvel at sterling performances that were recognised.


If you’re short on money or time and don’t go to the cinema often, I’d say go now, go now; the awards circus will be over within a month so catch some of the year’s best films whilst they’re all in town – you may just discover something truly special.