Category Archives: Film & TV

Review King Kong, Skull Island by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Kong: Skull Island was made in the same way Guillermo Del Toro’s Pacific Rim was. As a love letter to they’re influences and bringing enthusiasm and justice to the genre that the filmmakers loved when they were children and wanted to make the best movie they could. This works because they clearly know what it is and builds itself around that and never divulges from it. It knows that it’s tongue is very firmly placed in it’s cheek.
Our opening scene is a beach in 1944 where two pilots crash land. One is an American, the other Japanese, they waist no time in trying to kill each-other. Their fight becomes a chase that ends on a cliff top where they meet a giant creature that makes them and their conflict seem so puny by comparison. Then a news montage takes us to 1973, America has lost the Vietnam war and two people are seeking funding for a expedition to Skull Island.
Usually in these movies the monsters are the stars and the thing that everyone wants to see. That’s still true here only they’ve put effort into the human characters, they have fun personalities and quips that make you like them. They’re not deep, extremely troubled and complex Shakespearean characters, far from it, but they are engaging. First up is John Goodman as Randa, the one that gets the whole operation going, Tom Hiddleston is James Conrad (a play on Joseph Conrad perhaps?) a tracker that is brought in to survive the wilderness of the island. Samuel L. Jackson is a war vet from Vietnam that is carrying a grudge that America “abandoned” the war. Brei Larson is a photojournalist who’s more than up for a dangerous, interesting trek, once again adding plenty of fun and personality to the mix. There are other soldiers and characters but to name them and describe them all would take-up too much space, but they are memorable and have fun, quippy moments.

When the characters get to Skull Island in helicopters no time is wasted in dropping bombs to get the layout of the land. This quickly gets the attention of the king, Kong. This is the Kong that fights Godzilla, not the original that was the size of a house, this one’s the size a skyscraper. He quickly makes quick work of the helicopters so now it’s a case of survival for the people to make it out of the island alive.
Of course it is not just Kong on the island. It is inhabited with very large, very dangerous creatures. I wont spoil it buy adding descriptions of any of them, but they are quite imaginative and wildly designed.
If this movie has anything to thank beyond the original King Kong movie or the Kaiju genre it is Apocalypse Now. The filmmakers clearly drew inspiration for much of the tone and imagery used in it. Being that it’s the same time-period helps, so it’s not out-of-place or influence for the sake of it.
Like Apocalypse Now this comes with a very pleasing colour pallet. Rich primary colours like reds, blues, greens and yellow’s saturate the screen with shading of true blacks that add contrast and add that threatening tone to the whole thing. Another of the similar creative choices is the use of rock music of the time. Adding a fun vibe to the movie.
Adding once again to the Apocalypse Now channeling is John C. Riley as the solider from the opening. He is like Dennis Hopper’s photographer character who has become very deranged with his time spent in the jungle among the natives. He’s spent years on the island so he knows how it works so he provides helpful information to both the characters and the audience and more than a few rather funny moments.
What makes giant monsters fighting truly engaging is conveying the scale of these massive creatures going at it. All the truly big creatures move a little slower than a human would, adding gravity to what they do, also all their actions are big actions, a punch, footstep and splash is a seismic event from our perspective. Then it all has to be conveyed in big, biblical painting-like images, which these are. This movie does it’s monsters justice.
If I would have had this movie as a kid it would have been played constantly. Seeing it as an adult, it takes me back to that state of being giddy in my chair and owe for creatures unlike any that have ever existed. This movie is not the reinvention, but the perfection of the genre.

An Interview with Rachel Williams Development Producer, BBC Writers room – Wales

The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Rachel Williams, Development Producer, BBC Writers room – Wales. We discussed Rachel’s career to date, opportunities for Welsh and Wales based writers and the exciting new plans for BBC Writersroom Wales.
Hi Rachel great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Hi , I grew up in Church Village and went to primary school in Treforest, Pontypridd. I did a degree in English at Birmingham University and started out working as a music writer and journalist, and music radio producer before moving into factual television and directing on documentary and Arts series such as The Culture Show and Channel 4’s Cutting Edge. When I had my first child I came back to Wales and moved into TV development – I was Head of development for BBC documentaries where amongst other things I developed Factual drama including Jack Thorne’s ‘Don’t Take My Baby’ for BBC3. Telling fictional stories appeals to me for many reasons but mostly because you can go deep into the story and structure. I feel very privileged to be able to read scripts and work with writers as part of my day job – and also to have licence to  watch drama box sets guilt free!
So what got you interested in the arts?
I think my primary school St Michaels in Treforest first sparked a love for the Arts – I still remember my inspirational English teacher Mrs. White and the inventive way she taught creative writing and poetry. I think the Eisteddfod was another huge influence – I was billeted with a family in North Wales to perform at the national Eisteddfod – which was an amazing experience and my first exposure to the Welsh language. I think it’s great that Wales has such a strong culture of valuing and supporting the arts.
You are coordinating the BBC Writersroom Wales, what are the plans for this new initiative?
Writersroom Wales has been set up with the aim of developing new and established writing talent in Wales, to find tangible opportunities for writers across the genres and to help develop more diverse stories about contemporary Wales on network drama and comedy. I started in the role just before Christmas and we are also looking to appoint a freelance script editor/ producer who can work across Welsh language submissions. One of my first jobs is to set up the first BBC Welsh Writers Festival – an event that will bring together the Welsh writing community and launch the Writersroom in Wales. We are also planning an inventive launch event and writers workshop in North Wales in the summer in partnership with Radio Cymru and other partners. We hope to have regular one off writing events, writers residentials for writing commissions. We are going to set up a Writers development programme and work closely with Arts organisations from National Theatre Wales to Fio to It’s My Shout to support and develop writing talent.

You have organised a Writers Festival on Friday the 24th of March at Chapter Arts Centre, I wonder if you can tell us more about this event?
This is the first BBC Welsh Writers Festival and is modelled on the annual BBC TV Drama Writers festival. We wanted to gather the Welsh writing community together and give them some inspiration, ideas and information about opportunities and also to announce that the Writersroom has landed in Wales. We are putting on a mixture of craft and Q&A sessions giving writers an introduction to everything from Children to Comedy, Radio drama and TV drama. Andrew Davies will chair the day with a Q&A on his writing career followed by a craft session on adaptation, talking about War and Peace. We will also have a Q&A from the brilliant Lucy Gannon who will talk about her writing career across TV and radio. We have sessions on everything from Dr Who to Casualty and Welsh language drama like Hinterland. I’m really excited about the sessions on Comedy Drama and Representing Wales at the end of the day which will be a vital chance to hear from writers and programme makers about the current landscape and hopefully provoke some lively discussion.
Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists or specifically writers?
I’m not aware of barriers,  although arguably there is always a class barrier to becoming ‘a writer’ in the first place. I know there are people in Wales doing brilliant work with under represented communities. The Iris Prize in particular is a fantastic success story that has an international reputation. But I do think there’s a sense that English language drama about Wales has not always reflected the diversity of contemporary Wales. It would be great to see some more diverse stories of Wales on screen – whether that’s about the Somali community in Bute Town or the Italian Welsh community in the Valleys – from a wider range of perspectives. The Writersroom have just produced a second series of the Break for BAME writers – and the next series is coming out of Scotland. It would be great if it could come to Wales the following year.
There are range of organisations currently supporting Welsh and Wales based writers, have you met with any of them? How do you see BBC Writersroom Wales working with the current support network for writers?
In the first few months of the job I’ve tried to meet as many dramatic writing related organisations as I can from Ffilm Cymru to theatrical institutions such as Theatr Clwyd and National Theatre Wales. There are already people doing brilliant work in terms of writer support and development such as the Sherman Theatre who run a well respected writer development programme – we don’t want to step on any toes and duplicate work that is already being done. The question for me is how can we work and support existing structures and is there a need for something else that is not currently being addressed? Identifying that need is the sweet spot for the Writersroom – we are here to help fill that gap. But the key thing for us is that any initiative we set up has to have a tangible outcome for the writers at the end of it – whether that it is a slot on radio, TV or online.

Director General of the BBC Tony Hall

The deficit of English Language drama produced by the BBC reflecting the diversity of the citizens of Wales is a cause for concern. Is this something you will be tackling in your new role?
This is an issue that has been identified by Tony Hall and this is partly why BBC Writersroom has been set up in Wales – to nurture and develop the next generation of story tellers writing about Wales. The recent announcement of an additional £8.5m funding for programming in Wales – as well as a new £2m development fund for comedy, drama and factual in the Nations – should be a real boost and help generate new drama and comedy coming from Wales.
If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
We already have brilliant writers here working in theatre and radio – what would be great is if there was a vehicle for talented new writers to develop and hone their writing. So much of good writing is about craft – understanding story telling and the beats that make good drama – and this is definitely something that can be refined. Russell T Davies talked about learning to write on daytime drama The Grand – for the first time writing a scene entirely in subtext. I know these sort of long running drama strands are expensive but perhaps we could experiment with form – do it online or in a drama podcast?
What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?
I love the vibrant theatre scene in Wales, which is full of talented actors and writers. I recently saw Lucy Rivers’ Sinners Club at the Other Room – visceral, immersive ‘gig theatre’ that told a factual story in a clever and layered way. She wrote and performed it – and for what was essentially a monologue the pace never lagged. It’s going to be showing at Theatr Clwyd next. Watching theatre at the Other Room always feels like a treat, as it’s such a small intimate venue.


Thanks for your time Rachel.

Review A Cure for Wellness by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
This movie, if nothing else, succeeds in creating atmosphere. While you are watching the scenes unfolds you absolutely have a sense of how it feels to be there. What temperature the rooms are, how the objects feel and how much dread you should be feeling. A Cure for Wellness is a Gothic tale that put’s before us the human condition of comfort over accomplishment and accomplishment over being fulfilled. Along for the ride are some truly disturbing images, suspenseful buildups and intricately designed visuals.
Our tale starts at night, where a man is working high in a building in New York, typing code into a computer, he receives a letter with a mysterious emblem on it, then suffers a fatal heart attack. Because of this a young ladder-climber named Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) takes over his position. The letter is read, it is from a man named Roland Pembroke that is an important CEO to the company, in the letter he writes about the sick nature of the human condition he found himself in and now that he has found peace in his wellness center, he will not return. The members of the board all concur that he’s gone loony but they need him for a merger, so it falls on Lockhart to bring him back.
It becomes obvious very quickly that Lockhart (we never learn his first name), is a dedicated and hardworking individual but is not happy, he has none to create a personal life with and is direct and to the point always.
When he gets there the staff are a little to good at their job and proficient to be natural, all the clients are blissful elderly people from all over the world. The center itself has a very interesting history that is told in-part to him by his driver and the rest is revealed later. He is past visiting hours so he must come back tomorrow. On his way back a deer runs in-front of the car, causing a crash. He then wakes in the center, a cast now on his leg.

Like Verbinski’s last movie there is the use of water as a key theme. In that movie it was the desired substance of life, here it’s in bountiful supply, only there’s a questioning of how healthy it really is.
In order for a movie location to be memorable or even become a character in the film it needs to be distinctive and have personality. This is one of those locations, the wellness center is a place that is too damn clean, in some places and others is a shaking, metallic organism and in others a ancient Gothic tomb. All these different themes of the same building feed into the many goals of it and both serves the plot and express the mood of the scene.
I like this movie for the same reason I like Dark City. Because it simultaneously has a mystery plot that peels itself back one layer at a time until we finally get to the truth and stands as visual nourishment. This is a movie with themes that feed into what is onscreen and shows us things that will move you on the images alone. We have become too complacent with seeing things onscreen, we need to feel things when we see them in a movie. These images will accomplish this.
Like any well constructed movie the sound is intricately designed. Every object and action has a sound and it is captured in razor sharp detail. Everything from the pipes moaning, the drip, drip, dripping of a tap or the creak of crutches when weight is applied to them.
Then adding life to the rest of the mood is Benjamine Wallfisch with the score. At times, it a is dancing fairy-tale, while others are filled with movements of low frequencies that will unsettle you in your seat and others where it becomes a teeth-shattering and panic inducing.
This movie has an 18 certificate and it is earned. This is a dark tale with more than disturbing images on-screen as well as leaving other moments to the imagination. Along with all of that there is the mystery of the building and its true intentions which you will need a strong stomach for. Plus all of these things are wrapped together with the theme of reflecting on human nature, of being complacent and ignorant or reliant and unfulfilled.
There are moments that don’t add up, others that can be cut out and sometimes when it embellishes itself on the gore and/or the more obvious scary elements it goes past the line and becomes too much. But like Argento’s Suspiria, as an experience of movie watching, as something that has images that move and sounds that resonate within you, it is undeniably effective.

BSL Video, Why not join Get the Chance? with Steph Back

This video features Get the Chance member Steph Back inviting you to join our team. The BSL transcript is below.
Hi my name is Steph Back.
I am a member of Get the Chance. Get the Chance support members of the public to access sport and cultural events such as gigs, the theatre and performances. The members then review the activity they have attended. All of the reviews are posted on the Get the Chance website
Get the Chance wants to support new deaf/hearing impaired critics. Get the Chance can run free workshops teaching you about how to be a critic.
If you are interested in getting involved you need to contact Guy O’Donnell, The Director of Get the Chance.
You can email him at or text him on 07703 729079. Get the Chance also has a Facebook group and you can get in touch there as well.
Thank You.

An interview with artist Ruby Walker on the Strictly Cinema project Bridgend


Our project coordinator recently spoke to Bridgend based artist Ruby Walker. Ruby discussed the Strictly Cinema project in Maesteg Town Hall, Bridgend, community access to cultural provision and fancy dress!

Hi Ruby great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I studied illustration in Wrexham and by fate ended in Cardiff, after being excepted on the Welsh development agency’s program, I was successful in obtaining a grant from the Princes Youth Business Trust to set up as a freelance illustrator. Through my work other opportunities became present. Art direction, set painting and other visual mediums in television, film, theatre and the arts changed my direction. I became involved in project’s with HTV drama workshops, S4C, Cardiff council and the Welsh National Opera.  In 2000 I went abroad to Australia, Thailand and Greece and returned in 2005.  Since my return my day job is Art Materials Specialist/Visual merchandising for the Pen and Paper Stationery Company in Royal Arcade. I have been a volunteer for Strictly Cinema since last November, and became a member of the board this year. Film is my guilty pleasure as those who know me I’m obsessed with film history that includes Welsh history in this equation.

So what got you interested in the arts?

Drawing started when I was six, people joked I had paint for blood. But my other passion was Cinema I saw The Red Shoes at a very early age I was transfixed by this incredible visual feast of colour and movement. I never really wanted any other job as I was lucky I knew some form of art was for me. So I guess I’ve been involved all my life, and will carry on creating, learning and developing.

Strictly Cinema is described a “unique ‘social cinema’ event combining Cinema, Dance/Bingo and Food and takes place last Wed of every month at Maesteg Town Hall.” It sounds great can you tell us more?

I had been looking to be involved in a cinema project since I moved to Bridgend two years ago. Ceri Evans manager with Awen the local cultural trust directed me to Strictly Cinema. It is unique. A day time event offering film, buffet, special features, bingo and raffle. What’s important is the social experience for our customer’s. Making new friendships, seeing new films in such a beautiful building as the town hall. We involve the customers with the film choices, and add there thoughts and ideas to inspire future programs. Our last event featured the silent movie ‘Maid of Cefn Ydfa’ by silent filmmaker William Haggar based on the true story of local girl Ann Thomas with live harp, plus locally made ‘Very Annie Mary’ director Sara Sugarman. Most of our audience either knew someone in the film, or have great memories of the places featured in the film. Great talking points for the day.


The project seems very community focused, I believe you have shown community made films prior to the main feature, do you think involving local communities is important?

If any thing if its locally made it’s of great interest to our customers. Our main facilitator on such features is Andre Van Wyk who works as an Arts development Officer for Bridgend Council, a role which he is extremely passionate about. Usually on the day we collate new stories of interest though talking with our customer’s, and discuss the details in our committee meetings. There are always gems in the mix that’s what makes it so inspired. It’s of great importance to voice local stories, it keeps local history alive.


Ruby with volunteers in fancy dress at a showing of Casablanca

In your personal opinion what sort of support networks are there for projects of this nature in Wales? Can more be done?

There  can always  be more done! Cuts to the Arts are the norm. We recently received a grant through Film Hub Wales and the Audience Development Fund. Thinking creatively is a complex maze and if you think your idea is inspired with research, advice and knowledge it’s achievable.

Finally bringing us up to date, what have you got coming up next?

Our next feature is ‘The Proud Valley ‘ on the 29th March. The film starts 11am and the event finishes around 2.30pm. Booking is essential via

We will also have some very special activity for this performance we will be screening a pre-film interview with the family descendants of Welsh actress Rachel Thomas.

“Rachel Thomas, film and television actress, best remembered for her role as a miner’s wife in the film ‘Proud Valley’. In 1968 she starred in the television version of How Green Was My Valley and in 1971 appeared in the film version of Under Milk Wood, with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. She was also a mainstay of Pobl y Cwm, the BBC Wales television soap opera.”

We have also just confirmed that Tony Mullins (Maesteg Operatic Society) will be performing some Paul Robeson spirituals as well!

Thanks Ruby, sounds great, see you there!

Review The Lego Batman Movie by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
The Lego Batman Movie does the same for the Caped Crusader that Blazing Saddles did for the Western genre. Poking fun at all the various versions of the character, the overabundance of praise from his fans and some of the most colorful villains in pop-culture history. But done with genuine love, enthusiasm and knowledge of the source material so it is never bitter or poorly thought-out.
This is the same Batman that we got in The Lego Movie, the Batman that the overzealous fans talk about but don’t know they are. Completely impressed with himself because he can so effortlessly accomplish every seemingly impossible feet, has wealth and many, many cool possessions and everyone else is his lesser (he believes). Will Arnett has made this version of Batman his, having a deep raspy voice but also able to use it for dry delivery and even being petulant at times. He accomplishes one of the great examples of voice acting, remaining in-character while truly acting with it, able to maintain the same voice but use it to convey different emotions.
The other members of the cast members are Ralph Finnes as Alfred Pennyworth, the loyal butler. Through his straight delivery it makes the comedy all the more hilarious, it is a genius contrast against the wackiness he has to work off. Michael Cera plays Dick Grayson/Robin the energetic flamboyant element in the Batman universe and is very unwelcome to this Batman that believes he’s cramping his style. Rosario Dawson plays Barbra Gordan, who they unblinkingly changed to Latino, who’s the level headed, no-nonsense character she’s always been. Zach Galifianakis takes on the role of the Joker, obviously this a much more comedic focused version of the character, but there are a few moments where you can detect his malice, but he is here for comedy and you will laugh.
The animation is just like in The Lego Movie. Using actual pieces of Lego’s and cutting down on the frame rate so that it creates a choppy effect. However there are moments where it isn’t as refined as the previous movie. For example in the last one they only had on-screen what they could do with real Lego’s, here they cheat but manipulating the arms or having the pieces goes where they wouldn’t with a real toy, other times they look less realistic and more like C.G.I. characters, moving more smoothly. This isn’t really a detriment to the movie, it’s just that previous instalment was meticulous in it’s execution of animation.
The message and overall character-arc for Batman in this movie is to not be alone, to let others in because one man (even if they are Batman) can’t do everything. That and life just goes by better if you have someone to share it with. A simple message but told in such a gloriously overblown and entertaining way that it’s damn near impossible to not enjoy it.
Like what Blazing Saddles did to the Western genre I wonder if this will have a similar effect on the “serious” portrayals of Batman. That the people will see that this is all really rather ridiculous and not be able to take it so seriously for a time and have to wait. Or maybe that will be a good thing and realise that to be a real character is to have flaws so they may be willing to accept that their favourite Superhero has more than a few.


“I’m puttin’ on my top hat, Tyin’ up my white tie, Brushin’ off my tails” to welcome the fabulous Strictly Come Dancing duo Anton Du Beke and Erin Boag. On Sunday 19th February a packed crowd at the St David’s Hall was treated to an afternoon of high class ballroom dancing from two of Strictly Come Dancing’s most famous dancers.
I must say I was extremely excited before watching this show as I am a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and really love ballroom dancing so for me this show was a dream. The brilliant dancing duo was accompanied by a whole host of other dancers who were just as brilliant. The three male dancers easily kept up with the style of Du Beke and they were Scott Coldwell, Luke Field-Wright and Adam Lyons. The ladies dancing within the show were equally as brilliant and gave the same grace as Erin Boag. The brilliant ladies dancing were Hayley Ainsley, Victoria Hinde and Francesca Moffat.
Alongside the brilliant dancers within the show there was also a fabulous orchestra namely that of the London Concert Orchestra. Anton Du Beke himself joked about how he would have had the Welsh Concert Orchestra only they were too expensive. The London Concert orchestra was conducted by renowned conductor Richard Balcombe. The orchestra accompanied a very special guest singer for the show Lance Ellington who is one of the singers on the show Strictly Come Dancing. His voice was brilliant and worked very well with the music chosen for the show. He even joined in with some of the dances and certainly showed how massively talented all of the performers are on Strictly Come Dancing.
All of the brilliant dances were choreographed and directed by Nikki Woollaston who has worked on productions such as 42nd Street at the Theatre du Chatelet and many other tours with Anton Du Beke.

All in all Anton and Erin put on a fabulous show that really is a joy to behold. With such magical dance numbers and brilliant performances it really is a show not to be missed. So if you have chance to watch this amazing duo performing grasp it and just “face the music and dance”.
Tickets for the tour around he UK are available via –—our-2017-tour/

Review Trainspotting 2 by Ben Poulton

Danny Boyle chose not to choose the rehash, he chose something else.
T2 caught me off guard and I loved it. I was expecting the rehash, but no, he came in with the energy and film making pioneering that I believe will be analysed for years to come. The aspect I would most praise from my viewing is the pacing, as it is something that was uniformly exciting through the film, but also each aspect of what made the film brilliant.
One of the main things I noticed was that, essentially, there isn’t much of a plot at all. Yes we have Sick Boy (Johnny Lee Miller) and Renton (Ewan McGregor) buying and setting up of a ‘sauna’, Begbie’s (Robert Carlyle) return from jail and Spud’s (Ewen Bremner) struggle with addiction and suicide, but they seem side-lined to what we as an audience are wanting to see, The characters being as candid as we’ve always known them to be, and, in all honesty, see Begbie (Robert Carlyle) flip his shite when he gets his hand on the c*** what stole his four f***ing grand.
With 20 years of build-up it was essential that T2 understood something that most sequels don’t, and that’s how to work with nostalgia, and with a great exhale of relief, executed endearingly. In the real world nostalgia is a feeling, a little shot of endorphins that spikes dramatically from a single glimpse of an old friend, or the first few beats of a previously well versed song, it gets you riled up with a sudden awareness of blood running through the veins.

This understanding is used with tantalising precision throughout, the well loved soundtrack teased at us in tiny increments, original clips intercut with live action of the aged characters, to engulf us in memory, whilst standing side by side with the characters. This merging of the two assists the audience to come together with the characters, we are never allowed to forget about the content of the first film and are reminded throughout of the goings on in the first Trainspotting, and how although the characters have aged, the harrowing memories and experiences forgone have timelessly stayed with them. In one scene in particular when they return to the ‘great outdoors’ and we are flooded with the memories of Tommy (Kevin McKidd), and baby Dawn. Boyle does this, whilst also creating context and tension in the current film, by having the characters consider their role in the fates of these two from T1, a sign of empathy that goes ignored in the first film. This also goes to show that the characters have genuinely matured, and possessed the reflexive capacity that may only come from one who has decided to choose life.
The only real segment of T1 that Boyle indulges in is choose life, with a spritely modern rendition of the passage. When viewing it in the trailer I did think that it would turn into a pop culture rehash, but again it is the context that it is used in the film that pulled it off.
The new soundtrack itself is riddled with oldies, whom take the lions share of run time, with the likes of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, The Clash, Blondie and Queen, mixed with contemporary artists The Rubberbandits, Wolf Alice, Young Fathers, Shows the dedication to the mix of old and new, whilst primarily aiming to please the mature audience.
The difference between T2 and any other sequel is both the mind-set of the filmmaker, and the respect by that filmmaker, for the original viewer. These two things are key to why films of late, which should have gone down in history as beloved sequels, or prequels, shelved with pride in the collective box set, have been scorned and cast aside by original viewers out of sheer insult or boredom, personally I find myself struggling to mention The Hobbit in fear that someone may watch it if reminded about its existence. There was nothing of the kind in T2. A small disclaimer, I was born on the year of the original release and so my viewing platform is skewed about 10 years. However I do feel that I am an ‘almost original’ as I had watched it when I was a teen and had loved it since, and so view it in relatively the same perspective and the classical viewer. As I was saying, Boyle has taken great pride in creating the film for the simple purposes of entertaining himself and his audience. He knows what the audience has been longing for, the same vibrant, eccentric, experimental joyride that he has always delivered, but with 20 years of build up behind it.
The two decades have been evidently packed with visual ideas, as the variety of shots was phenomenal. Each scene filled to the brim with interesting angles and camera trickery, (including, in my eyes, the first successful use of a go pro shot in cinema to date). This, along with several POV shots from phones and CCTV cameras, worked well in comparison to other less successful uses (think first season Peep Show), is because the shots do actually blend in with the professional camera clips, you just accept it as a regular old clip and can move on without noticing it to stand out. I found myself to be in constant awe of the bountiful scape of shots and the exquisite use of them. It was utterly crammed and I loved every frame.
As much as I have praised the originality and lack of conforming to modern film problems, it is no without fault. Be sure to try to spot the money flow, a fancy new tracksuit you’re wearing Renton (Ewan McGregor), quite the refreshing beer there Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and oh my, I never noticed how very attractive Edinburgh really is. Alongside this there is the odd cringe worthy pop culture reference, the pick of the pile must be the bad photo. ‘Delete that now’, ‘no I’m putting this straight on my twitter profile’ repertoire, maybe they’re looking for this to be nostalgic in 20 years time? Aside from that the use of current technology was effective as they did it either for a reason in relation to the story, or used as a filming technique.
All in all my opinion on T2 is in high regard, mostly on its own merit as a film itself and also on the fact of it being a genuinely exiting sequel, maybe the film industry will take heed of this and produce unique exciting films, regardless of their continuing themes. I’m actually vaguely hopeful of the next year for motion picture, despite them trying to ruin it with another Pirates of the Caribbean.


Review Trainspotting 2 by Jonathan Evans

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)
Trainspotting 2, is something I never thought would be a reality, beyond simple theories and discussions. The first is a more than a complete story, also to others the idea of doing this is considered sacrilege. So why do it at all? Probably because that time has passed and the question of “Where are they now?” has been itching the filmmakers as much, or more than anyone.
For our crew it seems like they have everything right. Ewan McGregor as Mark has returned, Ewen Bremner as Spud, Johnny Lee Miller as Simon, Robert Carlyle as Franco and Danny Boyle once again taking the reins as director with John Hodge writing the screenplay.
Everything kicks off with Marks return. He is back after twenty years and not everyone is glad to see him. Would you be if he stole four grand from you? Spud did have his life on track, but when day light savings kicked in he was an hour late for everything which threw his stable life way off track and is now back on the heroine. Simon has a “business” of filming people have kinky sex with a prostitute friend and then blackmailing them, he also runs a pub that isn’t really worth opening and takes too much cocaine. And within the prison Franco is locked-up in prison, having twenty years for his rage to boil, it cannot hold him much longer.
Everyone has aged, of course, during the course of twenty years (some more gracefully than others). Most are different or in the same place as they were when Mark left them. But for some they have ignored time and it’s not them that’s changed but the world around them.

Danny Boyle is a director that, if anything, is known for his unique, sizzling visual flare. Something that was probably first established when he made the first Trainspotting. He brings it here as well, with careful and expressive lighting setups, razor sharp sounds, crazy setups an dynamic camera work. He is still very energetic with his passing and with Jon Harris as his editor they put together a very sharp movie. However there are moments of showing one thing and it leading to another which I wont dare spoil for you but are moments that remind you that Boyle is one of the top talents working today.
What would disappoint me about the movie would be if it was deliberately trying to recapture the exact same experience as the original. If they all just did the same thing, beat for beat, that would be a huge mistake. Luckily this is too wise to be so foolish. To be sure, for those that want warped visuals, crazy situations and colourful dialog (which is a staple of Trainspotting) you’ll get it, but they’re different and new. The familiar is revisited but not entirely the same.
Later in the movie Simon need’s a lawyer. So Mark goes to Diane, a person he had a fling with one time but has remained in-contact with. Like all the others Kelley McDonald return to reprise her role. In both movies Diane is what Mark wants to be but can never reach. In the original she was the new and exciting free spirit that found balance of fun while not being self destructive. Now she has formed into a mature and successful adult.
The movies main theme is nostalgia. These were once young men that lived their lives every day and for every second, but now all those times didn’t amount to anything. They’re not happy with how it all turned out and wish for a time when they could be happy-go-lucky again. But they cant.
Was this sequel necessary? Probably not, the ending to the first one is satisfactory enough. Though to the young people that have just discovered either the book of the film and see it as a way of life this will show them that there is still the rest of your life that you have to live. And for the youths that loved it when it came out may find some comfort in realising that they turned out better than the characters they once admired. And if there in the same place as the characters in the movie then this can be their wake-up call to change.

Review Ghost in the Shell by Jonathan Evans

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)
Great Science-Fiction asks questions about what is going on in the time that they are made and gives us a vision of what all that will lead to. Now that it is over twenty years old, Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell remains as a pinnacle of great science fiction by still being so relevant because it’s questions are still being asked now.
In the year 2029, the world’s international tensions are still high and the police still do their best to keep the world in as much order as they can. However technology has upped the game, now there is virtual hacking and information deliverance and speed is the name of the game. Just being human won’t cut it anymore so both sides now come with enhancements. They can now trade-in their organic parts and have them replaced with cybernetic upgrades. A brain that can have instant access to the police data logs or act as a radio, more powerful limbs etc. But there are some that are cybernetic from the ground-up. Enter The Major,a woman by appearance but everything from her hair, eyes to her brain has been manufactured. She even comes equipped camouflage capabilities that allows her to disappear.

Probably one of the biggest distinguishing aspects of the movie as well as whats played a part in making it so popular as well as recognizable is the choice to have it main character appear nude for a significant chunk of the movie. On one side, sex sells and there are undoubtedly many that simply come for the exposed breasts. However there are many intellectuals that still find merit in the movie beyond that choice. But lest focus on this part of it. Our opening sequence is the Major being built, the cybernetics, then the fake flesh, then finally the artificial skin. Early on we know that this is not a real woman before us, at least in body , you can observe at her sexualized proportions and say “That was definitely designed by a man” but here it literal on both sides, which adds to it.
Japanese animation operates at a different mentality than what the West will be used to with the Disney movies. First of all they make their movies at a lover frame rate, the West have twenty-four frames a second, while the East have sixteen, this means that they are allowed to have more moments quiet behavior rather than being in constant Ballet mode.They also don’t feel the need to have the characters in constant motion. Sometimes, or even many times they will land on a piece of framing and cinematography and have that be the shot throughout the scene, or for an extended time. It is a method of film-making that is primarily cost effective but can lead to moment of greater poignancy.
Much like Akira and Blade Runner the movie presents us with a city that is like the ones we have now, however elevated through the increase of technology. The building are more higher and technologically designed and advertisements are also everywhere however they are no longer flat projections, they have become three dimensional holograms and move around the building themselves (some even as bug as the buildings). In the slums every inch is used up to accommodate the mass population and is trash heavy and rustic.
We quickly learn that a terrorist is in Japan, one named The Puppet-Master. Who exactly he is nobody knows. They track down an inadvertent accomplice who’s a trash man trying to make money to help-out his daughter, however when they take him in it’s revealed that he has never been married and never had a daughter. This is a world where the enemy can manipulate civilians memories to make them do their tasks. It’s then quickly revealed that The Puppet-Master is actually an artificial intelligence, they simply call it him and he due to typical language conventions. What it really, or at least physically is, is electronic information.
The main theme, or at least the most prominent theme of the movie is what lies beneath. It is about pealing back the layers of what something seemingly is and getting to some sense of truth.
There is a sequence in this movie that consists of images, music and no dialog. It is shots of the city, the major moving through it, while passing she catches a glimpse of someone that resembles her at a restaurant. Nothing really comes of it and it’s not mentioned again but it plants the seeds for so many ideas. Was that a real person that the Major was based on? Is that another cyborg and her face is simply one of many identical ones? Was that even real or was that us getting a view into her imagination? I don’t know. I don’t need to know, because a crystal clear explanation would subtract from the interesting questions that I and/or someone else will come to through the watching and then we can discuss. It is the kind of scene where the robot part of your brain will tell you that it is inconsequential and should be cut, but the emotional, curious side needs it there.
With the heavy science fiction theme and images you would expect the musical score to be some kind of techno/synth style, but no. The score by Kenji Kawai is one of human chanting and traditional instruments. Nothing synthetic. A musical score can be considered the emotional layering on-top a movie, or its spirit.
The main theme, or at least the most prominent theme of the movie is what lies beneath. It is about pealing back the layers of what something seemingly is and getting to some sense of truth. Throughout the movie The Major keeps referring to “Twitch in my Ghost.” In context they are basically instincts, but it is what cannot be programed or truly logically explained in that machine way. They are those abstract feelings that have immense power over our decisions.
The Puppet-Master arranges for his body to be stolen out of the police headquarters. The team peruses and eventually, it’s just the two of them. Finally comes the encounter between The Major and The Puppet-master, taking place in some kind of old dance hall. He has gained control over a tank, which in this day and age is shaped more like a beetle. She dodges and shoots what she can but the armor is too tough, so she distracts it and then gets on-top if it in an attempt to rip off its panel. She pushes her artificial body to the limits and beyond, contorting her body to become incredibly butch in appearance, but even that is not enough, her circuits themselves rip out, leaving her limbless and only a torso.
It looks like the end but one of her colleague arrives to put the tank out of business. What is left is two beings that are no longer capable of psychical movement, only thought. In their time conversing The Puppet-Master proposes a merging to the Major, a merging of their minds.
With The Puppet-Master and The Major merged what we have now is something new. With her adult body destroyed in the fight the only replacement that could be found is a child’s one. Neither entirely him not her, their child? Where will she go now and what lies ahead of her? I don’t know. In the beginning the movie asks the question what makes us human, or what makes something living, at the end resolutions are made like any satisfying narrative but the really big one goes unanswered because it will never be answered.
In order for a ghost to be made something must first be living, right? Something must be there is whatever physical entity harbors it. Japan has a different relationship with technology than other countries. It’s more harmonious, encouraged and celebrated, they don’t fear or distrust the progress that’s been made, they’re quite proud of it. Ghost in the Shell is intricately detailed in many regards but it also operates so much in the blank spaces, leaving the audience to guess and fill in the blanks on their own steam. If you want something to flat out give you all the answered there are many other mediums that can give it to you like that. But a movie should have faith in it’s audience and that they can work things out for themselves. Besides, these questions can never be properly answered.