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Blog posts from January 2012

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Last week I decided to go for a 6 mile walk to stretch my legs and try to work off some of the Christmas excesses. Unfortunately, the healthy gesture was somewhat scuppered by the mid-walk break involving eating a metric tonne of popcorn.

The fact I live only 3 miles from Cineworld is both a very handy and potentially dangerous (for my waistline, at least) thing.

Whilst re-consuming the calories burned, I was enjoying watching Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

That’s right, I’ll admit it: I’m a 32 year old man and I found MI:GP thoroughly enjoyable.

Before I talk about why I did, I’ll get one thing straight: it’s not going to win any oscars. The acting is… fine, the characters are… yeah, also fine. The plot… silly, ludicrous, but enough going on in it to keep you watching. In other words: fine.

What makes it so enjoyable?

For me, it was a mixture of (surprisingly) amusing dialogue, fast pace (it really didn’t feel like 133 minutes!) and some utterly, utterly breathtaking set pieces. Explosions galore, buildings crumbling, screens that can create “virtual corridors” in front of your eyes…

Yes, it’s turn-your-brain-off-and-crunch-on-popcorn fodder at its best.

Without spoiling too much about the plot (haaa!), there’s a particular section involving Tom Cruise having to climb up the outside of the Burj Khalifa (the somewhat-on-the-large-side (a.k.a. world’s tallest) building in Dubai), some 100 floors up.

If you aren’t scared of heights, you’ll be impressed at the sheer scale of the tower and the clearly massive distance between Tom and the floor. You’ll be in awe at the real feeling of suspense as things don’t quite go to plan.

If, like me, you are scared of heights then you’re going to spend the entire scene almost wetting yourself.

It. Is. Scary.

You’re totally sucked into the scene and for me at least it made me feel as though I was there with him. Put it this way, it brought back the very same feelings I had when standing over a “mere” 42 metre drop about to throw myself off a bridge in New Zealand. Only this time I didn’t have a saftey rope (Although you did have a floor under your ass, in fairness – Ed). Terrifying, brilliant, and worth the entry price alone in my opinion.

So, in summary, it’s well worth going to see if you just fancy being entertained for a couple of hours without having to think much. You can always rent Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy afterwards to make up for it 🙂

See ya,


Posted on Sun 22 Jan in Review with No Comments

Review: The Thing (Remake)


I come to welcome this new year in with a review of a film. This is another one of my “For Uni” blogs, so apologies in advance for the use of terms such as “semiotics”, “metaphor” and “evokes”.

This is a review of the remake of The Thing.

20 years after John Carpenter’s classic work, one might feel that a remake at this stage is a little late, however after watching I would argue that it is in fact long overdue!

Without spoiling the plot, The Thing is based at a remote scientific base in the Antarctic where a group of scientists are entered into a whole world of fear, distrust and panic upon the arrival of a unexpected “visitor”.

The film itself runs at a whopping 2:19 (compared to John Carpenter’s version at 1 hour 49 minutes) although due to its snappy pace never outstays its welcome.

This is helped by a dialogue that doesn’t bombard with monologues, in fact quite the opposite: a deliberately limited range of vocabulary is used, which not only increases the tension but also acts as a metaphor to highlight how body language and actions take precedence within a crisis situation, with words a secondary concern.

As mentioned, despite the film’s length, it felt like barely a minute had gone by before the first of the incredible effects sequences arrives.

All too often modern films look to CGI when creating special effects, but – perhaps in a nod to Carpenter’s 1982 classic – this new version exclusively uses stop motion animation. Although perhaps dated at first, these effects soon blend perfectly with other scenes to the point that the they feel exactly as real as the other scenes.

Thematically, there is repeated use of imagery of of flightless birds, which is a clear use of semiotics to reflect the limitations one inadvertently places on oneself in a time of panic. This is strongly evident throughout the film, and helps evoke a sense of panic as the action intensifies.

I struggle to find an issue with a film that so effectively shocks, impresses and causes one to think. Other reviewers are commenting that this film has in some way ruined memories of their childhood, but I disagree – perhaps those people are letting nostalgia blind them to the qualities of modern works? Who knows.

All I know is that I used to enjoy doing impressions of the lead character when I was a bit younger.

Incredibly the entire film is available to watch for free on YouTube – at least, at the moment, before the studios notice. So, check it out while you still can!

Before I go, I must mention the soundtrack: on a par with Hans Zimmer’s epic Inception score, or Howard Shore’s grand score to Lord of the Rings, the music – particularly over the end credits – is the icing on the cake for me, an aurally evoked semiotic metaphor that informs the viewer of that which they are experiencing.

10 trumpet-bill-honks out of 10.

Tarrah for now,


Posted on Fri 06 Jan in Review,Uni with Comment (1)