The Watchers

The Watchers

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Masters Of The Universe (1987)

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing. It can often lead to rose-tinting, to believing something is better than it is because of the emotional ties you have to it. A case in point: this evening, I sat down to watch Masters Of The Universe, a film I haven't seen for twenty years or more. As a child, I loved this film; I even had the Panini sticker album of it. I have a certain image in my head of the film as I remember it from childhood. Was it going to live up to it?

Well, yes and no.

Billy Barty (Gwildor)
Dolph Lundgren (He-Man)
Yes, because it's still the same, fun, knockaround, good-vs-evil smackdown I remember from childhood. There's no real point trying to dissect the film, to look for deeper themes and meaning; it is what it is. A movie based on action figures. If you can't accept it for this, you really won't get on with it. Luckily, I can, so I do. Dolph Lundgren looks like he's been carved out of mahogany (and gives a performance to match); Frank Langella's a wonderfully arch Skeletor, really thesp-ing it up; Billy Barty is great as Gwildor, the Thenorian locksmith whose Cosmic Key causes the fight for Eternia to end up on Earth (although there's still a part of me that wishes they could have found a way for Orko to work); Meg Foster gives a quietly sinister performance as Evil-Lyn. I'd even forgotten about Courteney Cox and Robert Duncan McNeill appearing in it; it's weird to see them both looking so young.

So, where does the no come in?

Frank Langella (Skeletor)
Meg Foster (Evil-Lyn)
Technically, it's very dated- very, very 80s (Kevin thinks the Cosmic Key is a new form of Japanese synthesiser)- and a lot of the film hasn't aged well. Some of the culture-shock comedy that ensues when the Eternians end up on Earth is quite hit and miss. The fight sequences lack punch (especially the final showdown between He-Man and Skeletor, which looks like it was just shot against a light which changes colour). Some of the visual effects really do show their age- Blade's electro-whip, for instance and Skeletor's transformation (complete with laser-firing eyes).  That said, there are a couple of the make-up jobs which really have stood up well: there's a real flexibility to the Skeletor make-up which means Langella can really emote and enunciate and it gets picked up beneath the latex. 

So, all in all, looking back on it from an adult perspective, the film is dated and a little cheap-looking (despite the $22m budget). But it's still a lot of fun- and that's what's important.


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Wales Blog Awards 2012 Results

The Wales Blog Awards 2012 were held on Thursday 20 September at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. As we announced previously, The Watchers Film Show Blog was a finalist for Best Multimedia Blog.

Sadly we didn't win this year but would like to offer our heartiest congratulations to Cardiff Before Cardiff who won Best Multimedia Blog and We Are Cardiff who won the Best Blog award. Huge congratulations also go to Gourmet Gorro and Motown Junkies for their wins too and to all the other winners on the night.

This blog has only been running since January 2012, so to be shortlisted as a finalist after a relatively short time is a great honour. We were very pleased to be nominated and had a great time at the ceremony.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Review: Battleship (UK Cert 12A)

First off, I love blockbusters.

I even love them when you disengage your brain, you eat your popcorn and you don't care ridiculous the script is, how stupid the woman role is, how OTT macho the lead men are and even when the explosion soundtrack makes my ears bleed. BUT! This film is just beyond belief – it's all the above and still you can't forgive it and say ‘oh well, it’s a blockbuster, it’s not Shakespeare!’

So, let's begin this warning… yes, this is not a review – this is a WARNING! I'm warning you and also saving you all from wasting two of your life! From the get go, this film is awful! Not ‘it’s that bad, it’s good’, not a ‘guilty pleasure’ – just an abomination on the cinema landscape.

The film is based on the board game of the same name. Yes, it’s based on a board game, which is now owned by Hasbro. Some bright spark at Hasbro decided their next venture into film after the success of Transformers would be… a board game! Come on! Barbie The Movie would have been a better idea – and me saying I would prefer to watch Barbie The Movie screams how bad this film is! Now, you can make a successful film based on a board game – a case in point is Clue (based on Cluedo) but then again Dungeons & Dragons is the yin to that yang! But I digress.

So, the premise: the annual get together of all the Navies of the world – a military expo- is happening and we meet character upon character of annoying cliché drivel. Very near by, there’s a space signal monitoring station where, it just so happens, a few years previous a message was sent out to a newly found planet which is likely to be a close resemblance to Earth! Aliens invade, trap three battleships in a massive force field and a battle commences – you see, the Aliens need the communication dishes that are conveniently near by, because their communication ship crashlanded in Hong Kong, killing twenty thousand people! Yeah.

This movie has a terrible plot, the dialogue might as well be written on the back of a playing card and the cast are just the worst actors on Earth – oh, and on top of that, the lead of this film has had not one but two massive flops this year: Taylor Kitsch (who also starred in Disney's John Carter). We even have Rihanna in this film and you know a film is pants when a pop singer turns up (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome anyone?) Not even Liam Neeson can save this film; his role is blatantly there so his name can be on the poster and Liam Neeson on the poster gets us him playing the Admiral who, for the entire movie, is on the other side of the forcefield, unable to do anything which makes his payday easy (as he literally does nothing in this movie!)

The worst moment of this film however is a scene where there trying to be all Das Boot and use low lighting, have the characters in a 'silent running' mode of combat, all looking at one another with tense (yawn inducing) close ups! But what do they do? Well, you see, because of the forcefield and Alien tech that surrounds them, all radar is not working and they can’t lock on without co-ordinates. So they devise a plan- thanks to a Captain of a Japanese vessel (don't ask!), they’ve been using a clever tracking system. They bring up all the buoys in the area then overlay with a map- thus creating a grid. With this grid, they can lock on to a target. So we see characters all tense-looking as they lock onto A4 and FIRE… then we wait to see if it’s a MISS or a HIT! Yes, they actually try to make playing Battleship tense and dramatic!

The film.... no, I refuse to call it a film… The giant advert has no redeeming features in any form and should under no circumstances be watched.

I will give it..... 0.00000000000000000000001 out of 5


Friday, 14 September 2012

Programme 21 - The Watch, Dredd and 1950s Movies

The latest programme is now available to view.

In this show, we review new comedy The Watch, comic-book actioner Dredd and we discuss our favourite movies of the 1950s.

In our regular news feature, there's casting news for Kick-Ass 2, the big winners of this year's Venice Film Festival and news on the title of the new Star Trek movie.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Favourite Movie Soundtracks: Part One

A good soundtrack can really enhance a movie; the right musical cue at the right time can stir the emotions, make you cry or laugh, inspire you and make you root for the underdog. An orchestral score can do all that (and more), but for the purposes of these articles, I'd like to focus on original movie soundtracks- collections of songs heard in non-musicals.

There are some truly amazing movie soundtracks out there and here are some of my favourites:


Standout Tracks: 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' by Bob Dylan; 'The Sound Of Silence' by Simon & Garfunkel; 'Hallelujah' by Leonard Cohen

An absolutely storming soundtrack which utilises music cues found in the original comic-book, as well as using other songs to create the world of the Watchmen. The opening sequence, using Dylan's 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' is one of the best openings to a film. Click the video below to see it (NSFW):

Cruel Intentions

Standout Tracks: 'Every You Every Me' by Placebo; 'Secretly' by Skunk Anansie; 'Bittersweet Symphony' by The Verve

Whilst the film itself (a teen remake of Dangerous Liaisons) is a bit of a trashy albeit guilty pleasure, it does have a pretty cool late-90s indie soundtrack. I was heavily into indie music at the time so loved this soundtrack which featured a lot of my favourite songs. For a pivotal moment in the film, ‘Colorblind’ by Counting Crows is used to great effect; see the video below:

Pulp Fiction

Standout Tracks: 'Son Of A Preacher Man' by Dusty Springfield; 'Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon' by Urge Overkill; 'If Love Is A Red Dress (Hang Me In Rags)' by Maria McKee

Tarantino's films always have an eclectic soundtrack and the mad mix-up of Kool & The Gang, Al Green and Dick Dale means the soundtrack for Pulp Fiction has rarely been bettered. It's also one of the best-selling movie soundtracks of all time. In one of the film's most iconic moments Uma Thurman and John Travolta dance to Chuck Berry’s ‘You Never Can Tell’:

The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert 

Standout Tracks: 'I Will Survive' by Gloria Gaynor; 'Mamma Mia' by ABBA; 'Save The Best For Last' by Vanessa Williams

A frothy, camp-tastic concoction of disco and dance tunes which ably enhance the drag-show numbers in the film. CeCe Peniston's hi-energy song 'Finally' over the big show at Alice Springs really hits the mark. To see General Zod and Agent Smith in a whole new light, click the video below:

William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet 

Standout tracks: ‘#1 Crush’ by Garbage; ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ by Kym Mazelle; ‘Talk Show Host’ by Radiohead

Much like Tarantino, Baz Luhrmann’s soundtracks are eclectic mixes of different genres and styles and none so more than in his version of Romeo + Juliet. Indie mixes with dance mixes with gospel to create a beautiful soundscape. Romeo (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Juliet’s (Claire Danes) first meeting is marked by the beautiful ‘Kissing You’ by Des’ree. Click below to see this romantic moment in action:

So those are some of my favourite film soundtracks (with more to come). Let me know yours in the comments below.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Mini-Countdown: Our Favourite Films Of The 1940s

Following on from our discussions about favourite films of the 1930s, we decided to progress onto the 1940s. Again, each of us has three choices:


Great Expectations (1946)

Impressive adaptation of Dickens' sensational novel, with a brilliant central performance by John Mills. David Lean's direction is sleek and atmospheric.

It's A Wonderful Life (1946)

A perennial Christmas favourite which, even over sixty years later, still pulls at the heartstrings. Stewart is brilliant and if you don't come away from this film feeling better about the world, your heart is made of stone.

Rope (1948)

Shot in long continuous takes in one set, the technical tricks played in this film equal the verbal pyrotechnics- Grainger and Dall excel as the murderous students with Stewart as a wonderful counterfoil.


Double Indemnity (1944)

Barbara Stanwyck sizzles as the femme fatale in Wilder's superlative film noir, ably supported by MacMurray and Robinson. The script, from a James M. Cain novel, was co-written by Raymond Chandler.

Lifeboat (1944)

Another Hitchcock choice; set in a confined space, a great set of wonderful actors working with a thought-provoking script; plus this has one of the most genius Hitchcock cameos ever. 

Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949)

A brilliantly black Ealing comedy featuring standout performances by Dennis Price and Alec Guinness. Plus you get to see Guinness in drag (as the formidable Lady Agatha D'Ascoyne) - what more could you ask for? 

So those are our choices. What about yours? Would you have picked Mildred Pierce or Casablanca? The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre or Key Largo? Maybe Olivier's Hamlet or Henry The Fifth? Or how about Whisky Galore, Brief Encounter or the darling of film critics the world over: Citizen Kane? Let us know your favourite movies of the 1940s in the comments below.