Tuesday, June 28, 2011



SUPERHEROIC BEHAVIOUR
The Incredibles is arguably one of Pixar's best films of all time. There's also an argument that it is perhaps the best superhero movie of all time. At last you can enjoy it on Blu-ray as it's released this week. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of it. Pixar's films almost seem designed for the format and the transfer here is very nice indeed with the colours looking super-sharp, rich and vivid. Seven years after its release at the cinema, Brad Bird's The Incredibles still holds up wonderfully well. The Parr family, father Bob, wife Helen and kids Violet, Dashiell and Jack Jack are forced to lead a normal suburban existence after superheroes are outlawed in Metroville. Bob (Craig T Nelson) holds down a dull job in insurance while Helen (Holly Hunter) tries her best to be a typical housewife. But Bob can't quite pack in the superhero lifestyle and spends one night a week while he's supposed to be out bowling with best friend Frozone (Samuel Jackson) sitting and listening to the police scanner. Then one day Bob gets drawn back into the world of costumes, contacted by a mysterious figure. He gets kidnapped by the grown-up super villain who Bob rebuffed when the villain was a kid. So the rest of the family are forced to come to his rescue. Blu-ray brings everything to life and actually gives The Incredibles the opportunity to attract a whole new audience. The sound gets an extra boost with the transfer to Blu-ray and the voice talent really shines especially Nelson and Hunter. The extras include a intriguing roundtable with the key players of the movie including Bird and producer John Walker and short Jack Jack Attack, which is entertaining. For anyone who's an animation aficionado, The Incredibles Blu-ray is a must-buy…

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Sunday, June 26, 2011


PANDERING TO THE AUDIENCE?

In a summer overloaded with 3-D fare, Kung Fu Panda 2 is one of the few big tentpoles that is actually enhanced by the process. The first Kung Fu Panda was a surprise hit back in 2008, taking $60m at the US box office in its opening weekend. Dreamworks is the only credible rival as a mainstream animation house to Pixar and Kung Fu Panda, like Shrek, has an emotional depth lacking in most other animated features from other companies.

The other thing that's sad but true is that Jack Black is only likeable and seemingly in his element when he's the chubby unlikely action hero panda Po. The first film was a very accomplished and entertaining piece of fluff and Kung Fu Panda 2 actually manages to surpass its progenitor.

The plot is pretty simple: Shen (Gary Oldman) is a peacock who dabbled in the dark arts years ago and has returned to wreak his revenge, which would involve the end of Kung Fu. So Po and the Furious Five with the help of a number of new faces decides to face off against him.

The animation is incredible with the 3-D process giving the whole thing an almost painterly feel. You are thrown into Po's world in a totally immersive way and the fight sequences are well-directed and move with agility and speed. The voice talent here is well chosen with new addition Oldman almost stealing the show as the evil peacock Shen.

As I said, there is depth here and when the truth about Po's real father is revealed, there is a sense of emotion to it. Kung Fu Panda 2, despite its light and throwaway tone, isn't just another summer toy tie-in movie: it is crafted with care and attention to detail.

It isn't often that this is said but a sequel, as long as the same care and attention is taken to it, would actually be a welcome addition to a future summer's movie raft. Kung Fu Panda 2 certainly doesn't pander to its audience but makes it expect more from filmmakers…

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Thursday, June 23, 2011








IT'S BEEN A FEW WEEKS…
June has been a little bit of a crazy month which is why I haven't posted anything here in a little bit. We are finishing off the second digital TRIPWIRE and knee deep in the next print edition of TRIPWIRE. This week was pretty interesting: on Tuesday I went to the New Worlds talk at the British Library with Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, Norman Spinrad and John Clute. Part of the British Library's Science Fiction celebration, hosted by Roz Kaveney. Although the talk lacked a little focus and Kaveney didn't guide the conversation all that well, Aldiss and Moorcock made for an erudite double act and Spinrad had some interesting things to say. Critic Clute was a little out of place as he was the reviewer for New Worlds and perhaps it would have been a better talk if he had hosted it rather than Kaveney. Although I do know that Kaveney knows her stuff about science fiction, so it may just have been an off night. New Worlds is apparently being resurrected so perhaps this is a timely talk…
Then on Thursday I met up with Michael Moorcock for a brief chat and to take some photos. He was a gentlemen as ever and his wife Linda kindly slotted some time in for me to see him.

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Sunday, June 05, 2011



HELPING JAPAN
This month sees the release of a charity book with the money going to a very worthwhile cause: it's going to help the Japanese tsunami and earthquake victims. Spirit of Hope, published by the Comic Book Alliance and the brainchild of CBA chair Tim Pilcher, has a very impressive lineup: Nick Abadzis, Donna Barr, Mark Buckingham, Jason Cobley, Mike Collins, Glenn Dakin, Al Davison, Martin Eden, Gary Erskine, Al Ewing, Henry Flint, Alan Grant, Tony Lee, Gary Spencer Millidge, David Pugh, Darick Roberston, Declan Shalvey, Liam Sharp, Si Spencer, Lew Stringer, Chris Western, Andrew Wildman.
Released 18th June for £14.99 + p &p, you can order it from the CBA website. Here's the two covers by Jimmy Broxton and Mike Allred.

http://www.comicbook.org.uk/spirit-of-hope/

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