AN EMPIRE OF WORDS


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Phantoms (1998)

I must clear up the reasoning behind this movie, I am only watching this film for one reason and one reason only. The reasoning is a quote from a film called Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and Jay states that “Ben Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, yo” to Ben Affleck who is playing someone else. Odd I know, but brilliant in action.

The film is set in Snowden, Colorado, where Lisa and Jennifer Pailey are heading to Jennifer’s home, but only to find her housekeeper dead and everyone in a usually busy town, missing. They head to the town bakery, to find the severed heads of the baker and his wife in the oven, this where the Sheriff and his deputies intercept them. The Pailey sisters (Lisa played by Rose McGowan and Jennifer played by Joanna Going) spooked investigate a local hotel with Sheriff Bryce Hammond (Ben Affleck) and his deputies Stu Wargle and Steve Shanning (Liev Schreiber and Nicky Katt). where they discover the name of Timothy Flyte coupled with The Ancient Enemy and of course, everyone dead or missing.

After this discovery and the clump of metal left on a bed that previously wasn’t there, they converge on the police station in aid of trying to get help and to find out this mystery name, Timothy Flyte. He is found and taken to a base close to Snowden where he reveals that this thing is “chaos, chaos in the flesh.” After calling for aid, they are attacked at the police station by a large moth-like creature and it attacks deputy Wargle, who has been peculiar up until this point. Upon examination of the deputy after the attack, they discover that Wargle had his eyes, brain and the soft tissue on his face eaten by the moth creature.

“Hey, you wanna see somethin’?”

Flyte is taken to Snowden in hope of trying to find a way to stop this ancient enemy as it is referred too, where he explains he believes this ancient enemy has wiped out civilisations including the Mayans. Accompanied by a small army to try and find this ancient enemy, they arrive in Snowden, only to be wiped out apart from Flyte, the Pailey sisters and of course, Sheriff Hammond.

Peter O'Toole here, confronting the 'Phantoms' for the final sequence.

Peter O’Toole here, confronting the ‘Phantoms’ for the final sequence.

Much of the rest of the film not much really happens, apart from the ending where everything goes down so to speak. (The final scene was quite good though). I say the rest of the film, majority of this film was very much below average, painfully  below average. As they discover the ancient enemy absorbs information and gathered this knowledge that the ancient enemy has become to believe it is all powerful and immortal. A God. They discover a way to destroy this entity, and decide to put it into practice. And whether or not it works I leave with you, if you want to choose to watch this film.

I imagine this film in surround sound and big screen it would’ve been much better only for the effect though, but as for the actual film, I felt it was too much like The Thing, the original. As the indistinct noises, the morphing into dogs and people and of course the way it attacks the people left is all too familiar with The Thing. Ultimately, I did not expect big things after the reviews score and the sole reason I was watching this film is the reference in another film. I would not recommend this film at all. It’s quite lackluster and any action and thriller-esque only comes from jump tactics employed.

The acting is not brilliant either, Ben Affleck is probably the quietest character in this film and least memorable. Liev Schreiber probably has the best performance as Wargle, as he is very creepy and someone whom you wouldn’t want to be around with for very long. To anyone else who has endured this, um, experience, what did you think? Was Ben Affleck the bomb for you?

1/5 – (For Ben Affleck)


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Peaky Blinders (2013)

I recently discovered a new BBC television series called Peaky Blinders. I was a bit gutted as I had missed it’s showing on television, and it’s turned out to be a great show, thus far.

Set after the first world war, in 1919 Birmingham, the Shelby’s run a ‘gang’ by the name of the Peaky Blinders. The name coming from the razor blades sewn into the peaks of their flat caps. Led by Thomas Shelby played by Cillian Murphy, who’s acting is rather surprising as he seems more sinister and darker in this than what I’m used to seeing. At the start of series, the Shelby’s although governed by Thomas Shelby, their Aunt Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) has a certain dominance over the Thomas and Arthur, as a matriarchal figure in this television series.

Anyway, the main storyline throughout the series is set out from the start, Tommy organised a crate to be stolen, but contains the wrong item. The item in question is a set of guns that were destined for Libya, however, Tommy wants to bargain with C. I Chester Campbell using the guns as his bargaining chip. Chester Campbell (Sam Neill – Which annoyed me as I couldn’t figure out where I had seen him before until about episode 3) had been sent from Belfast, after his successful raid on the IRA in Belfast, on orders from Winston Churchill to retrieve the stolen shipment of guns, and rid of the communism that is brewing in Birmingham.

Peaky Blinders

The intertwining of the stories of Tommy trying to expand his empire across Birmingham, Chester Campbell trying to eradicate the gangs from Birmingham and also the domination of the seedy underbelly in Birmingham, is rather intoxicating and I have a personal interest in these certain gangster flicks and shows like Boardwalk Empire and Public Enemies, although according to the writers no references were played to Boardwalk Empire and shows of similar nature, which is rather interesting as they can draw similarities in the shooting styles.

My only strive with this series I would admit, is the soundtrack. It’s apt for the mood of the film, but not time period appropriate, considering the more than impressive set, time appropriate music may have given a bigger immersion into 1919 Birmingham. And of course, there are some stunning direction involved, including the Peaky Blinders putting their names to use fighting against Gypsies. As seen below.

0189-pb-19sep12-LST122522

Overall, this is a brilliant short television series, compressed into six hour long segments and the story builds with Cillian leading the charge of the Peaky Blinders. It’s rife with action of course, which is expected, considering the implications behind the show. It’s probably more recommendable if you do enjoy the shows like Boardwalk Empire and the films like Public Enemies and Gangs of New York as although differing in storylines the enjoyment factor is similar to these titles, I found. The depth in the sets gives the television a more mesmerising appeal, I cannot comment on the storyline though unfortunately as I’ve not completed the series, but as it stands the intertwining of the stories is riveting as there are more than one storyline to follow. A definite recommendation though, of course.

If you’ve seen the show, let me know what you think in the comment section!


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Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Now what is expected in a coming-of-age drama about high school, is a social outcast finding their feet in their high school time, relationships and dramas. The Perks of Being A Wallflower is no different as it stars Charlie finding his feet in high school. Charlie (Logan Lerman) is writing to a unknown person detailing the fact he starting high school for the first time and that he has not long been out of hospital. Which of course outlines the character we’re dealing with. He also mentions that bar his family he hasn’t spoken to anyone this summer, pretty much labeling Charlie as a social introvert or outcast.

This idea is shown as Charlie tries to find somewhere to sit during his lunch break, to where he is rejected by people he has known and even his sister, leaving him to sit alone. The next scene, we meet one of the trio of main characters, Patrick. He is a senior unfortunate enough to be taking a freshman shop class, and of course, he plays the class clown type character.

Charlie and Patrick's Clocks In Their Workshop Class.

Charlie and Patrick’s Clocks In Their Workshop Class.

The third and final member of the trio, is Sam (Emma Watson) who plays Patricks stepsister, and she is met at the high school football game, where Charlie is invited to sit next to them. The group discover they have a lot in common, mainly in musical taste and we see Charlie, the introvert, become less of an introvert. Beforehand, we had seen Charlie be alone at lunchtimes and being bullied around school, now he has settled with a group of friends and is doing extra assignments for English for his teacher Mr Anderson, without the hassle from his classmates.

Mr Anderson (Paul Rudd) plays the role of the teacher who everyone got on the most with at school (there was always that one teacher, don’t lie to yourselves). He offers him extra assignments in reading as he sees potential in Charlie and hands him various books. This coincides with his ambition to become a writer which is referenced throughout the film.

“Call it the Slut and the Falcon. Make us solve crimes!”

Relationships become an integral part of this film, because ultimately, this is the rest of the film. With the friendship group which now involves Mary Elizabeth and Alice, relationships evolve and dissolve throughout the film, but maintains Charlie’s interest in Sam throughout the film and whether or not that comes into fruition. Ultimately Charlie, as mentioned before, has been in and out of hospital for an unknown reason, with this new group is feeling better and rarely feeling “bad”, as he mentions in his letters. This is too the point where he enjoys his comrades, and states “we are infinite” when they discover the tunnel song (Heroes by David Bowie) and their continuous quest to find this song.

Majority of the coming of age high school films would see the protagonist getting what there are after and surviving high school, however, Perks of Being A Wallflower is completely different. The ending is unexpected I felt, and of course, I won’t spoil the ending because I enjoyed it and felt it different which was a nice surprise. But generally speaking this film is really enjoyable on a whole, and it all feels very joyful for the nostalgic feel in the experiences that the group go through.

Of course, this being a film in the 1990s, this film might appeal more to those born in the 1980s, as the music choices, the rebellious nature and the infatuation with the Rocky Horror Picture Show on the stage. But not only this, generally there is an appeal to all youth, with the parties and the beginning of and breaking down of relationships. It’s a true coming of age story as Charlie does find himself, not without consequences though as his choices in certain areas are the wrong ones, which causes issues in the friendship group.

What I did enjoy about this film, is off-production, is that the writer of the book, is actually the director of the film. Admittedly there is nothing stunning about the directing. For anyone that is reading this, is the book similar to the film? As I do have an issue of interpretations of books to films, but with the writer of the book directing, it could be different.


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Fast Five (2011)

If you’ve never, ever seen a film from the Fast & Furious franchise, then they have three factors, fast cars, racing and action with the leading stars being Vin Diesel and Paul Walker. Fast Five is, yes you guessed it, the fifth installment in this franchise, but chronologically the fourth (it makes sense if you’ve seen the four previous).

After the ending of Fast & Furious (2009), Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) is placed in handcuffs and is seemingly heading for jail. Seemingly. Of course Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker) and Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) chase the bus with Dom on it and break him out. They escape to Rio De Janeiro which serves as where the rest of the film is set. Awaiting to hear from Dom, Mia and Brian decide to join Vince (Matt Schulze) in a heist involving stealing cars on a moving train.

Dom shows up and the heist proceeds, with a hitch though, as their associates seem particularly interested in the Ford GT more than the other cars. Mia is told to the drive the car and wait for a call. This is when an altercation ensues between Dom and Zizi and his henchman. This is also when the DEA officers on the train catch on and are subsequently killed by Zizi’s men.

Brian and Dom are captured by Zizi’s men to where they are bought to a unknown location and meet Reyes, the leader of this operation. He is orders them to be interrogated to find the location of the Ford GT. They of course escape and manage to arrive at the safe house where the car is, they look for the thing of importance that caused a ruckus during the heist. They find a chip that tells the crew of Reyes’ operations, but also that he is holding over $100 million in the favelas of Rio De Janeiro.

All the while, Luke Hobbs (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) is heading to Rio to go on a hunt for Dom, Brian and Mia, the latter of which have now been placed on the wanted list. Accompanied with a team, Hobbs begins his pursuit of the trio after the killing of the DEA agents and is relentless in his pursuit. So much so, he travels to where they were last seen, which leads to a rooftop footrace chasing after him. He is unlucky in his pursuit as Dom escapes in the blaze of bullets from Reyes’ men.

Fast-Five-Film

So, Dom, Brian and Mia not only have Reyes’ men after them, they now have a specialist unit lead by the unit himself, Hobbs. When faced with limited options of escaping cleanly, Mia announces her pregnancy to Brian and Dom, which changes things. Dom now decides he wants to steal the money from Reyes and pay for a clean slate, a new life. For this, they would need to assemble a crack team to operate this job. The next scene is a real gem for the fans of the fast and furious franchise as we meet old characters including, Tej, Han and Roman.

Much of the next part of the film is just the team preparing differently for the heist job, such as street racing for cars, preparing routes and guns. Although not much exciting happens, until the day of the heist. Faced with a perfect opportunity to pull off the job, Dom sends team one out to begin the job, but before he has the chance to leave himself, Hobbs crashes into his muscle car and goes mano-a-mano with Dom, which is pretty awesome scene in all honesty.

“You just made a big mistake”

After the brawl, which is a good way to describe the fight, Dom, Brian, Mia and Vince are subsequently arrested and are on the way to the airport to be extradited. They are ambushed by Reyes’ men, to which a firefight ensues where majority of Hobbs’ men are wiped out, Dom, Vince and Brian instead of escaping help Hobbs and travel back to the safe house. Vince, however, doesn’t make it, being shot in the process and dies eventually. Hobbs this time round agrees to help with the heist as he wants to seek revenge against Reyes, however, they go with a different plan that isn’t revealed until it’s acted out.

I won’t spoil it, but in true Fast and Furious fashion the heist is ridiculous. How they go about it and what happens is truly ridiculous, enjoyable all the same, but ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the film, as much as I didn’t want to say that, however, this does bring the platform back up after a below average (in my opinion) last two films. And if you’re a Fast & Furious fan that’s yet to see this film, I would advise you to watch til a little after the credits for a surprise. As for what the franchise stands for, this film does have it, aside from a street race for pink slips (even though it is implied), as it has the fast cars, the women and the action.

3.5/5


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Flight (2013)

On the surface, Flight may just seem like a film about a flight captain landing the plane after a malfunction occurs. However, the captain, Whip Whittaker (played by Denzel Washington) had been drinking the night previous, but also on the morning of the flight. This ensues a legal battle about whether Whip will have the blame pinned on him. This is just on the surface, however, Robert Zemeckis delves deeper into the story of Whip Whittaker and his relationships with friends and family.

We first meet Whip in a hotel room with Katrina, an air hostess on the flight Whip is scheduled to be flying, with beer bottles and drugs scattered around the room. After being woken up and having a heated conversation with his ex-wife, he does a line of cocaine and necks the rest of his bottle of beer. He leaves the hotel room as normal and boards the plane as normal too.

After a patch of bad turbulence shortly after take-off, Whip talks to the passengers on board via the hostesses phone, all the while pouring vodka into some orange juice. Due to Whip sleeping in his chair, his co-pilot Ken Evans (Brian Geraghty) is called upon to land the plane. But this is when it all goes pear-shaped as the plane starts to nose dive and lose altitude at an alarming rate. Whip jolted awake, is forced to land the plane, but by inverting it to try and land it in an open field. He does this and manages to save 96 of the 102 people on-board the flight.

“No one could have landed that plane like I did. No one.”

Denzel’s acting ability is called upon more so over the course of the rest of the film as the film is heavily focused on Whip’s relationships with his friends, family and co-workers. Whip wakes up in the hospital to the face of Charlie Anderson (Bruce Greenwood) who explains the National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) are holding an investigation about the plane crash and have some questions for him. During his stay at the hospital, Whip meets Nicole (Kelly Reilly), who is in there for overdosing on drugs (which we saw her being carried out of his apartment when the plane was inverted).

When Whip is released from hospital, he attends a meeting with Charlie and Hugh Lang (Don Cheadle) who is his lawyer that has been supplied to him for the enquiry. He informs that if the NTSB can pin the crash on Whip’s alcohol levels in his blood, he faces prison for counts of manslaughter. This realisation causes Whip to start drinking, after going through an effort to disband all the drink in his home.

flight (1)

Whip goes to visit Nicole at her house, to find her being harassed by her landlord for money she owes him. Whip defends her and invites her to stay at his farmhouse, where he is staying due to the media outside his condo. A relationship develops between both of them, which becomes intimate, however, they both shows two sides of an addiction. Whip is showing the regressive side, that can’t fight it regardless of the advice from Hugh and Charlie to stay sober, whereas Nicole is showing progress.

This is further told when they both attend an AA meeting, where he leaves after the speaker’s story hits home about lying to everyone he knew. Drunk, Whip drives home to his farmhouse to find the media swarming, he decides to drives to his families house. The treatment Whip receives from his wife and son show what the addiction has done to his relationships with his family, and Nicole who decides to leave Whip until he kicks his addiction.

Whip, with nowhere to go turns up at Charlie’s house begging him to stay until the hearing. Charlie states he can, but is not allowed a drink whilst he is staying there, to which he abides by, as when he sees Hugh he accounts for 9 days without a drink. Whip, checks the mini-bar to find only soft drinks inside, showing that Charlie and Hugh have thought ahead.

Now I won’t spoil the ending, but Whip attends the hearing to which decides his fate as an airline pilot. Zemeckis, I thought, did an excellent job with the ending, as it ties in with the underlying battle that Whip has had with his alcohol addiction.

The ending is hard-hitting, although it could’ve been expected, the message is still there regardless. It’s ultimately whether Whip can continue to lie to everyone he knows and get away with it, or confess to the truth and face jail-time for being under the influence. This is what is shown throughout the film, as there are the two different addicts in the film, the pro-active, in Nicole, and the regressive in Whip, who keeps fighting but inevitably losing.

4/5