Ghost Rider 2 not completely rubbish shock

During the week I got Ghost Rider 2 Spirit of Vengeance to rent on blu ray. It would be true to say that I was not particularly anticipating seeing the movie but I thought I would give it a go.

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At first I was a bit concerned about the production values. The movie looks like it’s a Hollywood blockbuster that’s trying to emulate the look of one of those Wesley Snipes made in Eastern Europe Direct to DVD things. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In any case the look of the thing was quite jarring.

The movie starts with Idris Elba off of Luther on TV trying to rescue some kid from some bad men who are killing everyone in a monastery/castle place, including Giles off of Buffy. Evidently the fate of the world rests on the boy not being caught by said bad men.

Then we are introduced to Nicholas Cage as Johnny blaze and we get a brief animated recap of Ghost Rider’s origin story with a typical Cage Laconic Voice Over. This was handy as I had not bothered to see the first Ghose Rider, although it sees to match the comics, i.e. he does a deal withe the devil… And that’s about it really.

Anyway, Luther off of TV hires Johnny to rescue the boy from the bad men with the promise of johnny’s curse being lifted and his soul being saved.

Just in case you didn’t know, the curse and powers consist of turning into a flaming skeleton and riding a flaming bike and smithing foes and sucking their souls. Lovely.

So Johnny races off and rescues the boy and his mother.

Oh, I forgot to mention the boys mother. She is played by Italian actress Violante Placido, and she is probably the most gorgeous woman on the face of the planet. In fact every time she was on the screen I would sob with despair at the emptiness of my sad existence next to her beauty.

Ok, so I exaggerate just a little, but she is one seriously attractive lady.

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It turns out that the bad men after the kid are the minions of Ciaran Hinds, who is in fact the devil. Like, the actual devil.

Johnny, Luther, the kid and the heartbreakingly beautiful Violante make their way to a community of monks who live in these caves off in the middle of nowhere. And the lead monk guy looks familiar. It’s only Christopher Lambert off of Highlander, with his head shaved and some cool tattoos covering his face.

Luther keeps his agreement with Johnny who gets his Ghost Rider powers removed like in Superman 2, which means you know he’ll need them back shortly.

The devil’s main minion turns up, who has been given powers of decay. One touch and you’re having a really bad day. He has some seriously creepy make up that makes him look one step past death himself and the actor plays him with the right amount of unhinged humour as he sees what his powers do. He makes short work of Highlander and the other monks and takes the kid off to the devil. Johnny, Luther and the lovely Violante head off in pursuit for the big showdown with the fate of the world in the balance. Probably.

As the movie went along I discovered that I was able to forget the funky looking camerawork and I got into the story. There’s a very good cast at work and the Ghost Rider CGI is pretty good, particularly the final daylight battle.

The makers obviously saved up for the final chase and there is some enjoyable action and effects with cars being tossed off the road. The locations are also eye catching and unusual, the makers in some instances turning their low budget Eastern European setting to their advantage.

The best way to view the movie is with the foreknowledge that you have to accept the movie for what it is and understand that it’s no Avengers. With that in mind I found it to be a reasonably enjoyable diversion.

And Violante Placido needs to make more movies.

Blade Runner Blu Ray UK box set

I already have Blade Runner on DVD.

Actually I got the single disk release of the 1992 Director’s Cut and then later got the 2007 25th anniversary tin box set with five (Yes! Five!) different versions of the film including the then new Final Cut. That set also came with an epic making-of called Dangerous Days which is packed with unused footage and puts most other DVD extras to shame.

Oh, and I also bought the two disk version of the Final Cut later on in a second hand shop because I liked the Drew Struzan art on the cardboard slip case thing.

So now I discover it’s coming out on blu ray in the UK next month. If I had any sense I would give it a miss. The actual content of the disks seems to be the same as the previous box set. However the people who decide what to include in box sets have thrown in a couple of physical extras that have caught my eye.

Firstly there is a 72 page art-of book. Now, in reality it’s probably a very small ‘book’ but I like art-ofs as much as making-ofs. And then we come to the second item: a model of a police Spinner! All of a sudden I’m interested. I remember seeing little die-cast Spinners in a toy shop back when I was a kid in 1982. If the model looks anyway decent I think I might bite.

Here’s a photo of all the stuff in the set.

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Slightly more interesting Skyfall poster

I’ve found a slightly more interesting Skyfall poster. Not a great one, mind you. But it’s slightly more interesting, to me anyway, because it features the new bond girl Berenice Marlohe and she looks well. To put it mildly. (Although I still prefer the Quantum of Solace poster of Olga Kurylenko looking sultry and pouty.)

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There’s actually a series of four of these posters featuring different characters. If I get bored I may post the others.

Maybe.

Just to compare and contrast, here is an image of the Olga pouting poster.

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On buying a Blu Ray Player for the Avengers

There was a time when you could buy a DVD and get oodles of extras on it. Nowadays it seems the good extras only get put on the blu ray version, one assumes to encourage more people to buy blu ray players.

Well, I’ve finally got a blu ray player, timed mainly to get the Avengers as the DVD version seems to be a bit rubbish. I also leaned that Sainsbury’s would be including an additional exclusive disk with a substantial 90 minute long extra on it.

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I had hoped that the extra ‘extra’ would turn out to be an in depth making of, looking behind the scenes as the movie was shot. Something along the lines of the production diary that is on the X-Men 1.5 DVD perhaps.

No such luck. It turned out to be an extended trailer for the six Marvel Studios movies from Iron Man onwards. It was interesting enough but not what I hoped for.

The other extras were ok but nothing special. There was a three minute deleted scene featuring Steve Rogers that really should have been in the movie and it’s a great shame that it wasn’t.

The saving grace of the pack is of course the movie itself. It’s astoundingly good, even can’t-tear-my-eyes-away-from-the-screen good. It doesn’t overstay it’s running time and is packed with wonderful little moments and performances.

So in summary the movie is good, the extras are ok, and the jury is still out on blu ray.

Skyfall poster – first reaction

Well, a new Skyfall poster has appeared.

My first reaction, to be honest, was along the lines of “oh, look, there’s a new piece of fan art”.

Then I realised that it was the real deal.

So all I can say is a resounding “Meh”. It has to be one of the most underwhelming movie posters I have seen, and represents some of the laziest photoshopping efforts around.

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The last really great Bond poster was 25 years ago with The Living Daylights, but there’s been some decent ones since. Goldeneye and The World is not Enough were decent and I thought Casino Royale was pretty classy.

Fingers crossed there is another poster on the way. Somehow I doubt it.

Doctor Who Asylum of the Daleks

The first episode of the new series reintroduces us to the doctors old nemesis the Daleks.

Early in the episode we meet a girl who appears to be living in a crashed spaceship on a hostile planet. She looks a lot like the actress Jenna Louise Coleman who is going to be playing the Doctor’s new companion. But it can’t be her because that character isn’t being introduced until the Christmas episode. Right?

But where did you get the milk?

Meanwhile the Doctor, Amy and Rory have been abducted by the Daleks and taken to he Dalek parliament space ship where he meets the Dalek Prime Minister. (What, no Emperor Dalek anymore?)

The Daleks tell the Doctor that they need him to save them by helping them destroy the Dalek asylum. This is where they send all the mad Daleks. Why not simply destroy mad Daleks rather than send them to the asylum? Apparently because Daleks find hate beautiful.

So the Doctor has to go down and shut off the force field which can only be done on the planet itself. That’s a little contrived, I thought, but I’ll go along with it. And if facing countless mad Daleks isn’t enough to deal with the asylum planet also has a nano-cloud that will turn living beings into Dalek zombies . The Doctor, Amy and Rory are given special braclet things that will protect them.

On the planet the Doctor makes contact with the Jenna Louise Coleman character, Oswin, who’s ship crashed on the planet a year ago. She is by all accounts a genius and even thought she is trapped in her compartment her hacking skills helps the Doctor and friends escape from various Dalek encounters.

A word on the inmates of the asylum. The episode had promised we would get to see lots of Daleks from the show’s past. Well, they might well have been there, but as they were liberally covered in cobwebs and filmed in dark rooms it was hard to make them out. A pity.

There was also a sub-plot featuring Amy and Rory’s impending divorce. This really didn’t ring true and all seems to have been resolved by the end of the episode. Still, it allowed for a nice scene where Rory wants to give Amy his nano cloud repelling bracelet after she looses hers.

Eventually the Doctor makes it to Oswin’s compartment and he discovers the truth. It’s fair to say that it had been fairly well signposted that something was not quite right with her story and she is forced to confront the what has happened to her. I was fairly confident that the compartment wasn’t actually real (like Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘capsule’ in the movie Source Code) but the exact nature of what she had become still surprised me.

As a parting gift she helps the doctor escape and also deletes his identity from the Dalek memory banks. So when the Doctor reappears on the Dalek ship he has to tell them he’s ‘the Doctor’. This provided the episodes most entertaining moment with thousands of Daleks all asking ‘Doctor Who? Doctor Who? Doctor Who?

Well done to the show’s makers for keeping secret the fact that Jenna Louise Coleman was in it – she’s not in the Radio Times cast list for example. Now I’m understandably very curious how they will (re)introduce her in the Christmas episode given her apparent fate in this one.